Most people think of carbohydrates as bread, pasta, rice, crackers and maybe potatoes. But carbohydrates are found in many more foods than just grains. Fruits and vegetables also contain carbohydrates and even proteins ( including dairy products) contain a small amount of carbohydrate.
Don’t get me wrong – carbohydrates are essential to a healthy diet. I am not advocating a carb free diet for anyone. However, the type of foods you eat to obtain your carbohydrates from is very important. And, bread, pasta, crackers, rice and potatoes are not the best place to get those carbs!.
The reason grains (even gluten-free grains) are not ideal carbohydrate foods for most people is because grains cause a surge in blood glucose. This is particularity true when grain foods are eaten alone, without any healthy fats or proteins to slow their absorption int the blood stream.
Athletes however, (not necessarily the weekend warriors out there) do carb load with grains before strenuous sports or competition. They do this because their bodies benefit from the energy boost carbs give them that they will need to have peak performance. In this case the extra energy is used up rather rapidly. But for regular working and mostly sedentary Joe’s and Jane’s our bodies don’t require this infusion of energy to run a marathon. So when we eat lots of carbs from grains we eat more than our body needs we get the opposite result – weight gain and especially fat.
You thought whole grains were good for you? ..and the USDA recommends 6-11 servings a day!
This is simply flawed advice so please do NOT eat this many grains!
Negative health effects of eating too many grains:
- Highly inflammatory – anyone with joint pain or autoimmune disease should eliminate these from their diet.
- Contribute to leaky gut and nutrient mal-absorption.
- Strong association to increase in insulin resistance and type II diabetes.
- Directly connected to weight gain and rising obesity epidemic.
- Greater numbers of people are reactive to grains – particularly gluten containing grains such as wheat, rye & barley.
- Grains increase risk of yeast over growth and autoimmune disease states – even cancer.
So where, you ask should you get healthy carbs from?
The best place to get healthy carbohydrates from are low glycemic vegetables and fruits. These foods have great vitamin and mineral content and are full of healthy fiber too.
Start with eating more Low GI vegetables. These provide ideal healthy carbs. Examples of low GI veggies are; leafy greens (lettuces, kale, cabbage, swiss chard, mustard greens etc..) broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, green beans, asparagus, zucchini & yellow squash, celery, bok choy, onions and peppers. These are the very healthiest of foods but most of us don;t eat these nearly enough. We should aim for 7-9 servings a day of these.
Starchy vegetables are fine in smaller quantities. If you’re looking to reduce your weight and/or stabilize blood sugar you should eat less of these because they are higher in the glycemic index but DO include them absolutely! These include winter squashes, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, parsnips, rutabaga, turnips & pumpkin. These medium and higher vegetables provide excellent fiber and are also high in valuable vitamins and minerals.
Fresh fruits are good sources of healthy carbs too. Again if you’re trying to lose weight and or stabilize blood sugar you’d be better off eating mostly low GI varieties of fruit such as apples, peaches and berries. Most people do fine on 2-3 servings of these a day. Higher GI fruits like grapes, pineapple, tropical fruits like papaya, mango and banana should be eaten in small quantities less frequently.
But everybody loves grains you’re groaning!
True, we do seem to be wired to gravitate towards those grains. I think one reason we do gravitate for the grains is because they are so readily available as snacks and quick foods. Unfortunately these “convenient” foods are NOT real foods, but very processed, devoid of vital nutrients and they are making us sick and fat.
Just remember that grains were not eaten until rather recently in civilization and for thousands of years people lived with out them…I bet the obese and diabetic person was nonexistent then.