I am going to put this out there right away. It is a challenge to eat healthy. It takes determination and a lot of self-control. While eating healthy there seems to be so many things to remember. How much sugar can I have in a day? What kinds of fats are the good fats? How much sodium should I be consuming? All of those questions are indeed good things to know, but there is on aspect of our food that we seem to overlook. Carbohydrates.
Because of medical reasons, I have had to go on an extremely low carb diet. I am not even close to being a medical professional, but I was inspired to write about my findings because of how my life has changed. For years I have been trying to be conscious of the way I ate and what kinds of foods I put into my body. Recently, I have become more aware about the effects Carbohydrates have on the body and why consuming a large amount of processed and refined carbs are bad.
(Note: not ALL carbohydrates are bad!!!)
Let’s start with the worst kind, refined and processed carbs. Processed carbohydrates strip away beneficial fibers and nutrients that keep us full longer; such as white bread and white rice. A lot of the food we consume today has turned into something completely unnatural with a lot of added ingredients. Some of those ingredients include: High refined sugars, sodium, sometimes high saturated fat, and cholesterol. A lot of what we eat in the United States is processed carbs. Why? Because it is less time consuming, cost efficient, and convenient and they taste amazing. We are a fast moving culture and it is so easy to make pastas, order a pizza, or even a sub sandwich. Those kind of carbs will sneak up on you when it is least expected. Numerous studies show that refined carbohydrate consumption can lead to health problems like type two diabetes and obesity. The “Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010” suggests that adults, both male and female, get 45 to 65 percent of their calories from carbohydrates. However, this can vary depending on individual’s age, weight, health status, and amount of physical activity. It is recommended that you follow the guidelines that work best with your unique body. All this bad carb talk seems a little depressing with the “what you can’t/ shouldn’t eat” thing. There is good news though! There is such thing as good carbohydrates!
Not all carbs are bad carbs. In fact, we need carbohydrates to live. The best place to get those good nutrients is from natural sources. So what is a real carb or good carb? A good carb, is fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, whole grains (such as oats), nuts, and meats. The way I think about it is “did my ancestors eat this/ would my ancestor eat this”. I very simple guideline I use in determining if something might be high in the bad kind of carbohydrates. Low- carb lifestyles (the word diet may sound negative) might work very well for some people. This way of eating restricts the refined carbohydrate intake, while boosting protein and fat intake. While a low-carb lifestyle may be the answer for some people with certain metabolic problems and weight loss goals, it might not be the best fit for someone else’s lifestyle. Looking twice at food labels will help control your carbohydrate intake and in turn, make your body feel better by getting the good carbs it craves. I know it has made a difference for me.
So why does this pertain to you and your health? Believe it or not, this all connects to the liver. Liver is responsible for many different functions, one of which is breaking down carbs and processing nutrients. Our liver also deals with breaking down alcohol, something Wisconsinites love. Not everyone in Wisconsin is a heavy drinker, but it is good to be aware of what we are putting into our body that our liver has to deal with. My problem, at 20 years old, was my mass consumption of carbohydrates that forced my liver to work overtime and in turn, is at risk of being damaged. If someone else is having the same problem or not watching the carbs they consume, and add alcohol on top of that, it could make for an unhappy liver. I will leave you with this, check your labels, and be aware of what you are drinking. You may feel fine on the outside, but your body is working over-time to keep you healthy and happy. Do the same for your body by watching what you put into it!