Warning: No-Carb/Low-Carb Can Cause Serious Health Problems
By: Oleda Baker
Balance in nutrition is the single most important aspect and often the first to be discarded when dieting. With all the many trendy diets today, Americans are losing the nutritional foundation essential for lifelong good health. We take our bodies on these rollercoaster diets, changing with each new trend and promise, leaving us in a state of chemical imbalance and forcing our digestion and metabolism to compensate when our usual nutritional sources are removed. When there is balance, our systems work efficiently to process the foods we eat. With balance and efficiency comes healthy weight maintenance.
Carbohydrates are not the villains they are being made out to be! They are essential for digestion and metabolism; they are the best source of energy for all bodily functions, especially the brain and central nervous system. Carbohydrates help regulate protein and fat metabolism, as fats require carbohydrates for their breakdown within the liver. Carbohydrates contain the same number of calories per gram as protein (approximately 4 calories per gram) and less than one half the calories of fat (approximately 9 calories per gram).
Unrefined, natural carbohydrate foods like grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables are the only food category not linked to any leading killer diseases. Research has shown that diets low in pure sugar — one of the very real culprits — and high in complex carbohydrates have been shown to help many disorders.
Avoid the carbohydrates that are “bad” carbs: the pure sugars and starches, the carbohydrate foods lacking in essential vitamins, minerals and fibers- the “empty calories.” These carbs, found in starchy and sweet foods, when eaten in excess can crowd out essential nutrients in the diet. Concentrated sweets, such as cookies, cakes and candies should not exceed 10% of the daily total calories, yet it is estimated that today we consume as much as 25% of our calories in the form of sugar.
The National Research Council does not state a specific requirement in the diet, however most authorities agree that 55 to 60% of total calories should be from carbohydrates. A minimum of 100 grams a day is absolutely essential, with 300 grams being ideal for most people. A person’s metabolism, activity levels, size and weight all determine the amount of carbohydrates the body needs. Complete removal of carbohydrates from a diet may produce ketoses; these are toxic compounds that can cause a breakdown of essential body protein, brain damage, depression, apathy, and loss of energy. When protein is burned for energy, as in low carb diets, the kidneys can be overworked trying to quickly rid the body of toxins. It is necessary to consume large amounts of water to stabilize this condition. In balanced diets, fats are burned for energy from storage – not proteins – benefiting the entire body as these stores of fat produce energy more efficiently.
So now back to balance – if you are one of the millions now on one of those “No-Carb/Low -Carb” diets please be aware of the need to help your body in balancing and compensating for a lack of essential nutrients. Consider supplementing and balancing where you are lacking in carbohydrates with a good multi-vitamin; a vitamin rich in all B’s, and especially biotin, to help in the digestion of added proteins in the diet. Also drink plenty of water, eat an assortment of fruits and vegetables – choose your favorites, they are all good for you!
Sources of Complex Carbohydrates: Rice (especially brown), Potatoes, Beans, Peas, Corn, Yam, Low-Sweet Fruits and Vegetables, Wholegrain Bread, Dark Bread, Pita Bread, Matzo Bread, Pasta, Wholegrain cereal (including high-fiber Breakfast Cereal), Wheetabix, Shredded Wheat, Kasha, Oatcakes, Cuscus.
Sources of Simple Carbohydrates: Sugar, Chocolate, Candy, Jam, Cookies and Cakes, Biscuits, Sweet White Breads, Toffee, Honey, Soft Drinks, Alcohol Drinks, High-Fructose Juices, Ice Cream, Syrups.