When it comes to carbohydrates, it’s all about quality. The body uses all carbohydrates to produce glucose (also known as blood sugar) to help our organs do their thing and energize us throughout the day. When considering the quality of carbohydrates, the magic lies in how quickly your carb of choice is broken down into glucose. Glucose itself isn’t a bad thing, but getting too much glucose too quickly is when we get into trouble.
Refined carbohydrates like white flour go through a process which removes the “bulk,” such as fiber and other nutrients, from a food. The “simplification” of this food is what causes it to have a sudden effect on your body.
Unlike complex carbs that have fiber to act as a buffer, refined carbohydrates are broken down much faster. The result? All of that glucose hits your bloodstream like a sugar bomb, leading to a burst of energy and soaring blood sugar. In response to this spike, the hormone insulin springs to work, helping the body to store fat and signaling your cells to “store that glucose!” Before you know it, your blood sugar levels have tanked, leading to an energy slump, a crappy mood, and a craving for more sugar.
When rollercoaster blood sugar levels become a part of your daily life, this puts stress on your body, contributes to inflammation, and is correlated to health conditions like diabetes. This stress and inflammation can signal bad things to your hair follicles, getting in the way of the hair growth cycle.
In contrast, complex carbohydrates like whole grains generally pack a higher amount of fiber and a lower amount of sugar. These “nutrient buffers” ensure that the breakdown of glucose is more prolonged, allowing your body a more steady flow of energy and avoiding an unpleasant crash.