Our nation today is in a dietary state of emergency. The situation is critical. Today’s generation is the first expected to have a shorter lifespan than that of their parents. The needs of our military may be unmet by a population that is not physically fit to serve. To further add to the epidemic, Americans continue to spend $147 billion a year in medical costs stemming from obesity (Picture of American’s Health ). If you don’t think the problem is that bad, let me give you a few statistics. More than 66 million American adults are obese–more than the entire population of the United Kingdom. The Center for Disease Control states that by the year 2050, one of three adults in U.S. will have diabetes (CDC). The main cause for the obesity crisis is twofold: first, a lack of exercise or sedentary behavior, second, a dietary model that encourages Americans to consume excess amounts of carbohydrate-dense, refined, highly-processed, and nutritionally void foods.
There are three broad types of carbs: sugars (also called simple carbs), starches (also called complex carbs), and fiber (indigestible carbs). Or simpler put, carbs cause a sharp and fast rise in your blood glucose, higher than other macronutrients. Think of carbs as the fuel you put in your car. All car owners know that the quality of the gasoline is important to their vehicle functioning effectively and efficiently.
You wouldn’t put diesel in a Porsche and expect it to perform at high level. The engine would fail before using half a tank of the bad fuel. The same is true with our bodies. If we put the wrong kind of fuel in them, we can’t expect high performance or proper function. According to E.C. Westman,
Carbohydrates are a common source of energy in living organisms; however, no carbohydrate is an essential nutrient in humans. Humans are able to obtain most of their energy requirement from protein and fats, though the potential for some negative health effects of extreme carbohydrate restriction remains.
So with that in mind, here is a list of the most popular, yet bad carbs that people feed on the most for energy.
- SUGAR: Sugar is extremely disruptive to your endocrine system, stressful on your body, provides only empty calories, promotes fat storage (no one likes stored fat), weakens your immune system (you open your body up to sickness when too much sugar is consumed), and impairs leptin (a hormone that tells us we are full) signaling. Sugar is one potent carb and addictive “drug.”
- GRAINS: Grains include wheat, rice (brown, wild, white, short grain, long grain), oats, barley, rye, quinoa, spelt, corn, millet and buckwheat). However, grains contain two components that make them dangerous for consumption:
- Lectins: Lectins are a grain’s natural defense mechanism. Its number one goal is to pass through your digestive tract without being digested or broken down. A diet high in grains, over time, will irritate and damage the lining of your intestines! You won’t find that information on the back of loaf of bread! Lectins do so much damage they can eventually create holes in your intestines. Left undetected, this can lead to autoimmune diseases and a weakened immune system, arthritis, high blood pressure, and more.
- Phytates: Phytates are anti-nutrients meaning they don’t share their nutrients with you, they steal nutrients from you. You would think that eating grains would provide you with good nutrients for the day. But instead, you’re left more nutrient-deprived than you were before you ate.
Now I’m sure I’ve completely rocked your world with the information on carbs. You might be thinking there is nothing left to eat. I want to challenge you this week to gradually take the bad carbs out of your diet and replace them with better options.
- STOP: Grains, sugar, beans, soda, any carbonated beverage, alcohol, fruit juice, and artificial sweeteners
- CAUTION: Starchy vegetables (green peas, parsnips, plantains, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash), honey, stevia, and fruit juices.
- GO: Whole fruit, non-starchy vegetables, organic coffee, unsweetened tea, and water.