Carbohydrates are important macronutrients that are required by our body daily. Carbohydrates provide us with glucose, vitamins and minerals. When eaten, glucose in our bloodstream increases and the pancreas secretes insulin, in our body cells the glucose is then broken down to release energy or else it is stored for a later time. Glucose is stored in the liver or muscles as glycogen or else in the body as fat as a long-term storage solution.
Thus carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy and many organ functions depend on it; such as the brain, the central nervous system, the heart and other muscles. It also helps us feel full when eating and it is important for our digestive system.
Moderation is Key
As with anything in life, moderation is always the most important thing, as through it we can take the best out of anything without needing to face dire consequences of our overindulgence. Another aspect is to know what you’re eating and the different types of carb sources. The glycemic Index helps us identify which carbs are best. This GI indicates how fast a carbohydrate is turned into glucose. The higher the GI, the faster the process and the less nutritional value of the carb.
Thus, less refined carbs with a low GI, giving us fibre, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids would be those found more naturally in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, legumes and milk products. When eating these, you feel energised and full for quite some time. They also do not contain any added fats, sugars or processed chemicals/ additives.
These are the good carbs and here is a list of food sources:
- Quinoa, barley, oats, whole grain cereals and pasta.
- Berries, citrus fruits, melons, apples, bananas, pears and kiwi.
- Sweet potatoes, corn, carrots, peas and yams.
- Lentils and beans.
- Low fat milk, plain yoghurt and soy yoghurt.
Bad carbs are those foods that contain additional fuel that your body isn’t going to use and thus these cause an abrupt spike and drop in the level of glucose in our blood. They often leave you craving for more and are processed foods with added fats and sugars.
These are some of the ‘Bad Carbs’:
- Refined grains such as white flour, white rice, bread and bagels.
- Processed foods, packaged breakfast cereal, cakes.
- Coffee drinks and yoghurts with fruit at the bottom (not fresh fruit).
The ugly carbs are the same as the bad carbs but are even more addictive.
These foods tend to replace healthy food, usually also being eaten in excess:
- Sugar, gummies, candy, cakes, doughnuts, icing.
- Packaged potato chips, biscuits.
- Syrups, bi-carbonated beverages and soda.
As a rule of thumb, one should consider foods that are less refined and less processed as being more healthy for the body. Obviously by indulging at times or including certain items in one’s diet to control cravings doesn’t have to be looked on negatively.
Ideally if you have any doubts or health concerns, one could consult a dietician. Always remember that there are different body types and different lifestyles, thus what is valid for one doesn’t necessarily have to be valid for the rest!
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Abigail Church is a Humanistic Integrative Counsellor who works with adults and children through counselling with Willingness. She can be contacted on email@example.com or call us on 79291817.