Everyday we hear about foods and trends that are supposedly unhealthy for us. Sometimes they are, and other times, it’s simply untrue. Let’s check the facts…
Carbs are necessary. They are digested and converted to glucose. The glucose travels though the liver and circulatory system where our cells use it for fuel. If your glucose levels are too low, cells suffer, even those in your brain.
We can only store carbs in limited quantities. The leftovers (that you didn’t burn-off through exercise), turn into fat. That’s where carbs get the “unhealthy” label. Simple solution: Choose the slower-digesting carbs, which generally contain more nutrients and fiber—and keep you feeling fuller longer. Complex-carbs actually help manage your weight.
SOME “GOOD” CARBS: Apples, Artichokes, Bananas, Beans, Brown rice, Chickpeas, Lentils, Peas, Oats, Soybeans, Sweet potatoes, Tomatoes, Quinoa, Water cress, Whole Grains, Zucchini
BREAD TIP: Eaten in moderation, Sourdough bread is a healthy choice. It contains more of the bacteria Lactobacillus (from the yeast) than in other breads. That means higher production of lactic acid, which allows for better digestion and absorption of minerals. The lactic bacteria produces beneficial compounds such as antioxidants and anti-allergenic substances. It’s theorized that this may help in the treatment of autoimmune diseases.
Yes, some processed foods can be extremely unhealthy. The term “processed” means any food that’s been altered from its natural state. So, it depends on the “process” that’s implemented, which will determine if the food turns out to be healthy (or not).
The processed foods we need avoid are the ones that add sugar, salt, fat, or any chemical that’s used for flavoring or as a preservative.
Unhealthy examples: most breakfast cereals, chips, snacks, meats, bacon, canned and microwavable foods.
SOME “GOOD” PROCESSED FOODS: Milk needs pasteurization in order to remove potentially harmful bacteria. Some seeds (flax, sunflower) need pressing in order to derive their oils. Fermentation is a “process”, and it produces yogurt, kimchi, kefir, kombucha, pickles, among other nutritious foods. Pre-washing is a process used on beans. These are all healthy choices, yet they’ve been processed.
Gluten protein is the majority ingredient in a grain of wheat. Those allergic to gluten experience headaches, nausea, diarrhea, poor nutrient absorption, and intestinal pain. Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disorder (triggered by gluten), which attacks the lining of the small intestines.
Although Celiac is only diagnosed in 1 of 133 Americans, studies have shown the benefits of limiting or excluding gluten from our everyday diet. Maybe removing gluten from our meals is a beneficial idea. But, beware. Just because something is labeled gluten-free, doesn’t mean it’s good for you.
SOME “BAD” GLUTEN-FREE: In desserts, for example, the wheat flour is traded for a gluten-free flour. But if the dish is still chock full of butter, salt, and processed sugar, it’s not ultimately healthy. (Maybe delicious, but probably not great for the heart and thighs.)
The lesson? We’re better off looking at the facts and educating ourselves, rather than just taking a label or a trend at face value. Here’s to a smart, yummy, healthy diet!
For more articles on nutrition and a healthy diet, check out DrDaveCampbell.com