Intact Carbohydrate

I’ve been thinking about the fact that carbohydrate virtually never grows in nature without the fiber attached.  Think about it:  meadow, garden, orchard — they’re all growing vegetables, beans, fruit and grains with the fiber matrix intact.

Along these lines, why do we call flour that’s been stripped of its fiber and germ “refined”?  What’s refined about flour?  When I look up the meaning in the dictionary it says that refinement means to remove the course impurities.  Really?  That got me thinking.

Whose idea was it to imply that the germ and bran are coarse impurities?  I’m pretty sure that it was not a nutritionist.  

I’ve written previously about how words carefully chosen can be employed to influence large populations to behave in ways that they would not otherwise.  Consider, for example, the fact that yogurt without any flavoring is called plain, when it could have been called pure.  Which would you rather buy?

Under the radar, a war of words influences our purchasing and consumption behaviors to an extraordinary degree.  Did you know there’s a special name for nutrition information displayed on the boxes of items like breakfast cereals, crackers, and the like?  It’s called advertising.  

So if word selection is that important, and worth as much to the food processing industry as I believe, then I am offering an alternative tool, to level the playing field as it were.  At the very least it should be a fair fight, and how can it be, when most of us don’t even realize that it’s going on? 

I am offering a new term for whole meal, whole grains, beets, dates, and any other food that is rich in carbohydrate and has not been stripped of its fiber matrix.  I’m going to call it intact carbohydrate, as opposed to stripped.  Intact carbohydrate is what you find when you walk outside and pick a tomato.  Or a peach.  Or a green bean.  Or a grain of wheat.  Stripped carbohydrate is what you find in supermarkets and loads of restaurants.

If refined carb is the Western diet’s default setting, then carb that hasn’t been tampered with, even though it grew that way for thousands of years, needs a special descriptor.  That’s the reason for having to call flour “whole-grain.”  As customer demand increases for food that grew the way nature intended, grocery stores are now filling with foods described as organic, grass-fed, pastured, free-range, and so forth.  Consider the fact that those none of those words were necessary 100 years ago.  

Instead of using the term refined carbs, we can call whole grains and fruits (and vegetables and beans) INTACT carbohydrates.  Fussed-with, tampered-with, refined carbs are “stripped.”  After all, having been stripped of their bran fiber coat, or their fiber matrix, that’s what they are.   Intact carb requires no special descriptors; it is what it is.  Intact carb is less likely to be found in a box, by the way.  Intact carb is carb the way nature intended.  Intact carb is food.  Intact carb is found in abundance in the produce section.  It’s potatoes, apples, oranges, lettuce, onions, peppers, kale, cauliflower, rhubarb, broccoli, and kohlrabi, not to mention whole-grain flour and brown rice.

Intact carb is NOT food starch, modified food starch, white flour, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, enriched flour, fortified grain, white rice, polished rice or reconstituted anything.  


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