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How do carbohydrates impact your health? - Richard J. Wood

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The things we eat and drink on a daily basis can impact our health in big ways. Too many carbohydrates, for instance, can lead to insulin resistance, which is a major contributor to cardiovascular disease and Type 2 Diabetes. But what are carbs, exactly? And what do they do to our bodies? Richard J. Wood explains.

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  • Educator Richard J. Wood
  • Script Editor Eleanor Nelsen
  • Animator Qa'ed Mai
  • Narrator Addison Anderson

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Additional Resources for you to Explore
Interested in knowing more about the glycemic index? The glycemic index is a ranking system that depicts the glycemic response (change in blood glucose) caused by a food. The index was originally created to help people with Type 2 Diabetes make better food choices, but has been used in many additional settings including cardiovascular health and sports performance. The glycemic index of a food can vary depending on meal composition, cooking or processing measures, ripeness, etc. Furthermore, the glycemic index does not take in to account the amount of food chosen (i.e. a bite of white bread and an entire loaf of white bread has the same glycemic index). As such, an additional system called the "glycemic load" was subsequently created. This system takes into account both the glycemic index of a food and the amount of a food eaten.

Metabolic syndrome is a constellation of symptoms that increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease or Type 2 diabetes. The underlying cause of metabolic syndrome is thought to be insulin resistance. The prevalence of metabolic syndrome is increasing significantly world-wide. There are five diagnostic criteria for metabolic syndrome:
1.Fasting blood glucose ≥100 mg/dL
2.Blood pressure ≥130/≥85 or taking a medication to lower blood pressure
3.Waist circumference ≥35 inches for women or ≥40 inches in men
4.Triglycerides (fat in your blood) ≥150 mg/dL
5.HDL cholesterol ("good" cholesterol) ≤50 for women or ≤40 in men

Insulin resistance is a condition where the body makes insulin, but the tissues response to that insulin is blunted. Insulin resistance is thought to be the underlying cause of metabolic syndrome, and is a hallmark of Type 2 Diabetes. Insulin resistance can lead to weight gain and disruptions in blood-fat levels ("triglycerides") and good cholesterol (HDL-cholesterol).

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About TED-Ed Originals

TED-Ed Original lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed original? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Richard J. Wood
  • Script Editor Eleanor Nelsen
  • Animator Qa'ed Mai
  • Narrator Addison Anderson

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