We often find ourselves defining foods based on how much fat, carbohydrates or protein they contain and we use this to determine how healthy they are.
In the past few decades, fat was believed to be the main culprit of our expanding waistlines, but more recently it has become carbs who cop the blame.
Alongside the ‘low fat’ foods available in supermarkets, we now find a huge range of ‘low carb’ products dominating our shelves. We are bombarded with information telling us that reducing carbohydrates will enable us to shed those kilos fast and fix our dietary issues.
But this is missing the bigger picture. It is simply NOT about one small component of food; it’s about the whole diet.
When it comes to carbs, you need to be taking into consideration the fibre content, how long it takes for that food to be absorbed and digested, what are its effects on blood glucose levels, is it rich in vitamins and minerals – all these attributes play a part in deciding what is a good and a bad carbohydrate.
It doesn’t take much to know the difference between a bag of lollies and a bowl of fruit, or a multigrain loaf compared to a fluffy white bread roll. All these foods are carbohydrates, but all couldn’t be more different nutritionally.
So, why should we NOT avoid carbs?
Energy: Our bodies are designed to run on carbohydrates, which provide the glucose that must be kept at a certain level in the bloodstream for our brain and body to function and give us energy.
Decrease fatigue: Including carbohydrates in your diet will help reduce feelings of fatigue, particularly when accompanied by an exercise regime.
Mood: A diet too low in carbohydrates can affect your mood! Carbohydrates play a role in the production of serotonin (the body’s feel-good hormone responsible for lifting our spirits). Low carbohydrates can lead to feelings of exhaustion, fogginess, and reduce that happy feeling we should be getting everyday.
Bowel Health: You can risk becoming constipated. Good carbohydrates like wholegrains, fruits and vegetables are high in fibre and fibre is what helps to keep your bowel movements regular. A diet that contains good quality carbohydrates can also help to reduce feelings of bloating as your body will be more efficient at eliminating waste.
Help your brain work better: Your brain needs carbohydrates to function properly. Your brain runs on glucose, and you get glucose from carbohydrates. If you don’t have enough of them, your ability to think, learn, and remember stuff will decrease because neurotransmitters in your brain will not have enough glucose to synthesize properly.
Reduced risk of disease: Good carbohydrates are packed full of vitamins and minerals that are essential for our health and without them leaves a huge gap in our nutritional health that is difficult to obtain from other foods.
Good carbohydrates are good and bad carbohydrates are bad, but it’s up to us to know the difference, and ensure that we are eating good carbohydrates in order for our body to benefit!