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Why Carbs Aren't Your Enemy: Separating Fact from Fiction

Carbs - we seem to have a love/hate relationship with them. They are a controversial topic in the world of nutrition. With so many mixed messages and myths out there, it’s tough to know what to believe. But understanding carbs is important for your overall health and wellbeing. In this post, I’ll debunk some of the common myths and misconceptions, and give you some tips for incorporating them into a healthy diet. Let’s dive right in and get started!

sourdough bread

Carbohydrates are one of three macronutrients our bodies need to function properly alongside protein and fat. Macro just means big. Micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) are needed in much smaller amounts but are still vital for health.

Carbs are the main source of energy for our bodies and are needed for physical activity and brain function. Incorporating healthy sources of carbs can help maintain energy levels, improve cognitive function, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

In recent years carbs have got a bad reputation in popular media and diet culture. Let's take a look at some of those myths together:

Myth #1 -All carbohydrates are bad and should be avoided.

The truth is that not all carbs are created equal. There are three main types of carbohydrates - simple carbs like those found in sugar, complex carbs like those found in whole grains and vegetables and fibre also found in whole grains, fruit and veg.

Simple sugars can spike blood sugar levels and lead to health problems including insulin resistance and eventually type 2 diabetes.

Complex carbs can be very beneficial to health, as long as you make the right choices - whole grains over white processed varieties, whole fruit instead of fruit juice.

Fibre is absolutely crucial to keeping your digestive system and therefore, your whole body healthy. One of the major disadvantages of a low-carb diet is the digestive upset including constipation it often causes.

Myth # 2 - low-carb diets are the best way to lose weight

While it's true that reducing carb intake can lead to weight loss in the short term, it's not necessarily the best or healthiest approach for everyone. In fact, studies have shown that low-carb diets can be difficult to sustain and may even lead to negative health outcomes including fatigue, headaches and muscle cramps.

Myth #3 - Carbs are always bad for people with type 2 diabetes.

It’s true people with diabetes do need to carefully manage their carb intake to control blood sugar levels. However, eating whole, fibre-rich carbs like vegetables and whole grains can actually help regulate blood sugar levels. It’s important that people with diabetes work with a healthcare professional to determine the amount and type of carbs for their individual needs.

oats with nuts and dried fruit

How to choose healthy carbohydrates

The key to choosing good cards to include in your diet is to look for whole, unprocessed foods and stay away from processed varieties. Opt for wholemeal bread and pasta, instead of white versions. Choose brown pasta and whole grain couscous over their white counterparts. Explore different whole grains like quinoa and buckwheat for more interesting mealtimes.

Avoid sugary foods and drinks as much as possible. Bear in mind, these can be hard to give up, so take it slowly and be kind to yourself as you make these great health improvements.

Pack in plenty of vegetables each day and choose two or three different fruits to get a good mix of vitamins and minerals as well as fibre.

Remember balance is key

As you start to incorporate healthy carbs into your diet it's’ still crucial to remember that balance and moderation are key. Eating too much of any type of food, even healthy ones, can lead to weight gain and other health issues. That’s why it’s important to focus on variety and balance and to enjoy carbs as part of a well-rounded diet. Think about portion control, as it can be easy to overdo it with carbs, especially if you’re eating processed foods or sugary snacks. Focusing on balance and moderation means you can enjoy carbs as part of a healthy satisfying diet that supports your overall health and wellbeing.

Avoiding carbs is not usually the best option for most people, rather it’s best to avoid unhealthy processed carbs and sugars. Sticking to a balanced diet with good-quality carbohydrates, proteins and fats helps create a healthier version of you. Don’t forget you can still enjoy the odd treat, carbs are not your enemy.

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