A Medical Perspective On Low Carb Diets

By the early 2000’s, low carb diets were all the rage, and from then on, their popularity seems to rise and fall on a regular basis. For many people, the results they got from eating low-carb diets payed off but as time went on the initial thrill of being able to eat foods like bacon while on diet wore off and sticking to mostly protein foods became dull.

Despite the high profile opinion that carbs are bad for you, doctors have a counterpoint: carbs are actually highly important for human health and weight loss. This idea is taken so seriously that some doctors in fact recommend a high carb diet. 

Criticisms of carbohydrates are that they are a cause of insulin resistance, heart disease, and other ailments. While these things are true of some carbohydrates, the reality is a lot more complicated because carbohydrates is a giant category of foodstuffs. To establish some perspective as an example, a banana split with all the toppings is a carbohydrate just as much as a piece of broccoli. 

In actuality, all plant-based foods are carbohydrates. For some doctors these plant-based carbohydrates are referred to as “slow-carbs” because they digest slowly in the system without raising blood sugar levels or insulin to dangerous degrees while dissolving large amounts of nutrients, fiber, and phytochemicals into the body. 

When eating fresh fruit and vegetables, which are packed with these phytonutrients, including carotenoids, flavonoids, and polyphenols, health problems are improved immensely. Dementia, diabetes, and age related symptoms are just some of the many ailments that “slow-carbs” can help to correct.

A perfect diet would be comprised of about 75 percent non-starchy vegetables and low-glycemic fruits. This means almost all of each plate at a meal would be healthiest if two thirds of it was carbohydrates. Calorie counting when eating these types of “slow-carbs” isn’t worrisome either because these types of foods are very low in calories. 

To keep both body and mind healthy carbohydrates are necessary. But the idea is to avoid bad carbohydrates like doughnuts, bagels, pastries and other sweets commonly considered to be carbohydrates. These bad carbohydrates are typically processed foods with their essential nutrient profiles removed from the while being manufactured. 

Good carbs are non-artificial, whole foods, that come from plants and contain a full spectrum of essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients.

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Jason Thien