The digestive system processes food containing carbohydrates as sugar which enters the blood stream, and simple carbohydrates tend to spike blood sugar levels more rapidly than complex carbohydrates, according to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Simple carbohydrates are primarily composed of sugar such as fructose and glucose, which the body uses for quick and easy sources of energy. Quick spikes in sugar and insulin levels can have negative health implications.
When sugar enters the blood stream, the pancreas produces and releases insulin which helps transport the sugar into storage cells for energy utilization, explains Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. As sugar moves into storage cells, blood sugar levels start to reduce and the pancreas produces glucagon to signal the liver to release stored sugar. This process ensures a steady supply of blood sugar.
Individuals who can't properly produce or utilize insulin are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, states Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Insulin resistance, a condition wherein muscles and cells stop responding to the effects of insulin, causes sugar to remain in the blood stream long after eating. Over the course of a number of years insulin resistance eventually causes insulin production to decrease and stop.
Eating carbohydrates with a low glycemic index, including bran, apples, beans, skim milk and peanuts, helps reduce and manage blood sugar levels, according to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The glycemic index is a method of categorizing foods based on their impact to blood sugar, and following a diet that emphasizes foods with a high glycemic index, including refined cereals, french fries, candy, white rice and sugary beverages, creates a higher risk for both Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.