Refined carbohydrates are also known as processed carbs or simple carbs. Refined grains contain refined carbohydrates. These refined grains have had fibrous and nutritious parts removed. A refined grain is the refined form of whole grains. Whole grains consist of bran, germ and endosperm. Bran is the hard outer covering of grain which contains minerals, fibre and antioxidants. Germ is the embryo of the plant which gives rise to a new plant. It contains carbs, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants. The endosperm contains mostly carbohydrates and proteins. During the refining process of grains, all the nutrients along with bran and germ are removed. All the fibre and micronutrients are removed from them. Some producers enrich their products with synthetic vitamins to improve the nutrient content of the product. Refined carbohydrates are considered as ‘empty’ calories as it does not contain fibre, vitamins and minerals.
Foods which are high in refined carbs are always low in fibre. Low fibre foods do not contain roughage which slows down bowels. Fibre is the part of a plant that the body cannot digest. It gives bulk to the diet and gives the feeling of satiety. It helps in regular bowel movements. A low fibre diet has been linked with an increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, colon cancer and various digestive problems. A low fibre diet mostly recommended to those who have undergone GIT surgery. This diet is also suggested to those who have Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis or any other condition that can cause pain, swelling or narrowing of the bowel.
Refined carbs are quickly digested in the body and raise the blood sugar level. They have a high glycemic index. High glycemic index foods quickly spike the blood sugar level and insulin levels after the meals. Eating foods with a high glycemic index often leads to overeating and increases the risk of many diseases. Indian diet contains a maximum percentage of carbohydrates in their diet, which may cause obesity. High consumption of carbohydrate diet may lead to weight gain, poor metabolic health and increased risk of heart disease. There is nothing positive about refined carbohydrates as they are low in nutrients and give empty calories.
The main dietary sources of refined carbs are white flour, white bread, sodas, snacks, pasta, sweets, pastries, white rice, snacks, breakfast cereals and added sugars.
To sum up, refined foods should be consumed in small quantities as it does not have any positive effects on health.