Carbohydrates

carbohydrates

Media consistently tries to single out ONE main cause for all of our health issues. Diet trends are always set by marketing giants in order to sell the latest fad to many willing and desperate consumers. With the turn of the millennium, carbohydrates became the main area of focus. They were blamed for causing overweight and obesity and had people saying things like, “I really need to stop eating carbs if I want to fit into my bikini this summer.”Unfortunately, marketing paints a pretty picture, but often does not tell the entire story. Carbohydrates are necessary for the proper functioning of our cells and body. In fact, restricting the body of carbohydrates can severely impair hormone balance by increasing stress hormones like cortisol (which is proven by research to be associated with things like diabetes, weight gain, immune system suppression, gastrointestinal issues, cardiovascular disease, infertility, chronic fatigue syndrome, and insomnia.(1) ).

What types of carbohydrates should I limit?

Instead of limiting entire macronutrient groups, it is more important to evaluate what TYPE of carbohydrates one chooses to eat. In today’s society, the issue of being exposed to many processed foods automatically sets the stage for eating carbohydrates that wreak havoc on the body. Examples of these are processed sugar and white flour. Seemingly “healthy” foods are laden with sugar, flour, and additives that deplete the body of vital nutrients and cause all sorts of health issues including compromised metabolism. Breads, bagels, cereals, bars, etc. that are touted as being “good for you” cause you to gain weight and to feel terrible.

The more one stays closer to eating whole, real foods, the more chance the body has of metabolizing nutrients effectively. The first step to choosing the right carbohydrates is to limit the highly processed ones. Examples of these are the following:

Commercial breads, bagels, and pitas
Commercial cereals
Commercial chocolates, candies, and syrups
Commercial pastas
Any packaged food where sugar (or any of its many names) is found in the first 3 ingredients of the food label

What carbohydrates SHOULD I eat?

As we said before, eating real food is the way to go. When you choose real sources of carbohydrates, you gain nutrient density from b-complex vitamins, vitamins A and C, and important minerals like magnesium and potassium. Most of your carbohydrates should come from nutrient dense foods like fruits and vegetables. Here is a list of foods that will not only boost energy levels, but will have the scale moving in the right direction:

Fruits and vegetables
Beans and legumes
Buckwheat
Quinoa
Brown or wild rice
Gluten-free oats
Home-made chocolate made from raw cocoa
Raw honey

As one can see from the above list, it’s not about limiting carbohydrates. It’s more about choosing the ones that fuel the body to function properly.

Don’t be fooled by gimmicks and tricks used by clever weight loss companies. Starving your body of vital nutrients will not only cause weight gain, but will cause major health problems in the future. Limit processed foods, choose organic, real foods, choose local sources of foods, and stay informed with REAL science based nutrition. A good rule of thumb to follow when deciding if an eating plan is for you or not is, “If it seems too good to be true, it usually is”.

References:

1. Aronson, Dina, It’s role in stress, inflammation, and indications for Diet Therapy (2009) http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/111609p38.shtml

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