We have all heard how carbs are bad for you and if you really want to lose weight you should avoid them and blah, blah, blah... Well, the truth is not all carbs are bad, in fact, only one type should be avoided. There are two types of carbohydrates, simple and complex. Avoiding carbs altogether can bring serious health problems which defeats the purpose of doing a diet in the first place.
Carbs are converted into blood sugar and blood sugar is the go-to source of fuel for every cell in our body. Even our brain uses this blood glucose to function and it can account for about ¼ of our resting metabolic rate.
In the short term, deprivation of carbs can cause dizziness, lack of energy, headaches, constipation and so on. In the long term it can cause more headaches, muscle cramps, diarrhea, constipation and bad breath. Aside from these, somewhat mild consequences, a sustained low-carb diet can cause health complications such as heart arrhythmias, osteoporosis, kidney damage, increased cancer risk, impairment of physical activity and cholesterol abnormalities.
The brain needs carbs to produce serotonin, which is a mood elevator, without it, we tend to be restless, irritable or depressed.
Also, low-carb diets tend to encourage the consumption of fatty foods , normally high in cholesterol and saturated fats, and are overall, very nutrient deficient. Sustaining such a diet in the long run could result in malnutrition.
Depriving our body of carbohydrates, the main fuel source for every cell in our body, forces our body to switch to burning fat instead, this is called ketosis. This sounds like a great deal but the truth is, most of the weight lost in the first few weeks, before hitting a plateau, is water weight, not fat. Studies have shown that by putting our body in ketosis mode, it is actually forced to burn more of our own protein than fat. Our body at this point needs to get its glucose from somewhere so it breaks down our protein which is mostly found in muscles. Just to feed our brain, our body would need to breakdown about half a pound of protein a day. So we are losing a small amount of fat, but in the process, we are also slowly shrinking our muscles, losing water, and putting ourselves at risk of all the health issues I mentioned before.
So, staying away from carbs is a good idea but it does not apply to all carbs. Simple carbs are the ones we should try to stay away from. These raise blood sugar quickly and provide almost immediate energy but it promptly runs out and you are left with a drop of sugar levels which makes you hungry sooner, which creates a cycle.
Simple carbs can be found in table sugar, corn syrup, fruit juices, sodas, candy, white flour, sweetened cereals, white rice, white pasta, and all processed wheat.
Complex Carbohydrates are the good kind, the ones you get from nature and have not been processed and stripped off their nutrients in an attempt to change the color, texture or shape to make them more appealing. These good carbs provide fiber, and a wide variety of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Some sources of these good carbs are whole grains like quinoa, brown rice and oats, whole vegetables, whole fruits, and legumes.
Always try to avoid products with added simple carbs on the ingredients list such as glucose, fructose, dextrin, maltodextrin, galactose, maltose or just anything that ends with “ose”. Good luck! and remember, always read your labels and choose wisely!
We are programmed to believe we should avoid all fats because they are all bad but the fact is, this is not true. There are types of fats that are actually essential for a healthy diet. These types of fat can be naturally sourced from plants and nuts and should comprise about 30% of your daily diet.
There are three types of fat:
- Saturated: This is the kind to avoid. This happens when the fatty acids are combined with hydrogenated atoms. This fat is solid at room temperature which makes it perfect to give products like butter their texture and consistency.
- Monounsaturated: These types of fat can be sourced naturally since it is not saturated. It occurs in avocados, nuts, olives, etc. and its liquid at room temperature. This is the best kind of fat to consume.
- Polyunsaturated: This type of fat comes from vegetables such as corn oil, sunflower, etc. they are liquid at room temperature. Although they are great for consumption, unlike Monounsaturated fats, this kind is unstable and can easily oxidize and cause inflammation in the body.
So when grocery shopping, always take a look at the label, the kind of fat used will be mentioned and now that you know what they are all about, you can make an informed decision about your purchase.
So what is all the fuzz about avoiding BPA?
BPA is short for Bisphenol A. This chemical can negatively affect infant brains and children and could be key to the increasing rate of obesity in the United States. BPA can also increase the sensitivity of the addiction receptors in the brain and it affects the thyroid functions. The American Health Association published a study back in 2008 which concluded that people with higher levels of BPA in their urine were at higher risk of heart decease and diabetes.
Manufacturers add this chemical to plastic packages to improve flexibility and avoid shattering.
BPA is mostly found on water bottles being that they are mostly made out of plastic. Even recycled plastic is added this chemical so always make sure to know what you are buying.
Here are some helpful tips to avoid BPA:
- When buying a bottle of water, look at the recycling number. This number is usually located at the bottom of the bottle. If the number is 7, put it down and run away! 7 means the plastic contains BPA. If the number is 1, 2, 4 or 5, it is safe. These numbers are not easy to spot so you might have to squint a bit to see but it is there.
- Another number to stay away from is 3. If the bottles has a number 3 at the bottom, do not buy. This number means the plastic contains Phthalates. This plastic, although it is less popular, is still very used for the same propose, to improve flexibility and avoid shattering. We'll talk more about this chemical later.
BPA can also be found in plastic food packaging so read labels carefully and make sure that if the packaging is plastic, its BPA-Free.
BPA is also widely used the lining of cans so if you tend to eat canned food, it is important you make sure it’s organic and BPA free.
We have all been there... We are trying to eat healthy and we've been good all week but suddenly the crazy cravings for ice cream or cake or just about anything junk come crashing... you are not alone and you are not crazy! These cravings are orchestrated meticulously by the manufacturers of those things you are craving.
A 2010 study published in Nature Neuroscience showing they you can activate the same biological mechanism that drives addiction to tobacco, cocaine or heroin to create food addiction. A constant consumption of foods like cheeseburgers, chips or candy can turn into a vicious cycle.
As the body becomes obese, the receptors in your brain that let you know when you are full deteriorate requiring more processed junk food to satisfy them. This is called Sensory Overload.
Some tricks you can try to help you stand up to those cravings are:
Also keep in mind that once you are free of all those chemicals imbalances, your cravings for junk food will be less and less every time. Be strong and it will pay off! The light at the end of the tunnel is that once you regulate or eliminate your junk food intake, you will discover that natural foods can be just as delicious with the advantage of all the nutrients and vitamins that are so essential for a healthy body!
In my opinion, this additive gets the prize for being the most sneaky of them all. Even when buying organic, always scan labels for this ingredient because it is still allowed in organic products by the FDA.
Studies on animals show a very incriminating linkage between this additive and colon cancer. Although the studies on humans are limited, it is said that this ingredients is not digestible and that, in fact, can be destructive to your digestive system. Your body reacts to it as if it was being attacked by salmonella, causing inflammation leading to ulceration and bleeding.
Research done by the University of Illinois School of Medicine indicates a link between carrageenan and gastrointestinal cancer in lab animals.
This ingredients is widely used due to its thickening and stabilizing properties and can be specially common on non-dairy products such as almond milk, coconut milk, it is also found in yogurts, dietary supplements, etc.
Since this product is naturally sourced from red algae, it is still qualifies as natural and can be added to even organic products.
Who doesn't love bacon??? and sausage, and ham. Well, all these delicious processed meats have one thing in common, they are processed with nitrites and nitrates. They are added to preserve the meat for longer periods of time without bacteria growth. Also, these additives give meat the salty flavor we love so much as well as that that red/pink appearance which is so appealing to the eye. What's the catch?
When nitrites are exposed to high heat and amino acids they can turn into Nitrosamines which are potent carcinogens. Most processed meats tend to be high in Nitrite and Protein (a source of amino acids), and cooking these meats creates the perfect conditions for Nitrosamine formation. Now, like that wasn't enough Nitrosamine in your system, your liver converts the other additive, Nitrates, into Nitrosamines as well, so one way or another Nitrosamine finds its way into your body.
Also, these chemicals, when consumed, can bind to your hemoglobin, the molecules that carry oxygenate throughout the body, and cause dizziness, headaches and rapid heartbeat.
As I mentioned before, both nitrate and nitrite can be found on bacon, ham, hot dogs, and sausages so they are not hard to find.
These processed meats are delicious and very appealing but now that you know their dangers and risks you can make an informed decision and choose wisely.
Eating Clean by Wright Larsen
If you are older than 5 years old, chances are you can't digest lactose. Lactose, a type of sugar found in dairy products, it's generally not digestible by adults, causing belly discomfort, gas, bloating, etc.
See, our bodies need an enzyme called "Lactase" in order to be able to digest and break down lactose. This enzyme is naturally produced by our bodies between the ages of 1 and 5 but after that, our bodies stop the production of this enzyme so when we eat any type of dairy, undigested sugars end up in our colon, start fermenting and cause the intolerance.
The majority of people don't realize this but, being able to digest lactose as an adult is actually a weird generic adaptation, in fact, less than 40% of people on the planet maintain the ability to digest lactose after childhood.
Lactose and our ability to digest it (or lack thereof) is not the only issue with milk or dairy products in general. Bet most of you have heard at some point or another that milk will make your bones stronger due to its high content of calcium. While this statement is true, it only applies to children in the midst of their development.
Milk contains about 300 mg of calcium per cup so it is a wonderful source of it for children who are growing every day but when that progress stops, calcium actually becomes counterproductive. Hundreds of scientific studies show that not only do we barely absorb the calcium from a glass of milk but consuming it actually increases the loss of calcium on our bones leading us to a series of detrimental health conditions.
This is what happens when we consume milk: Any animal protein, including milk, acidifies the pH in our bodies so, in turn, our body's response is to try to autocorrect by pulling out calcium from our bones to neutralize the acidity caused by the milk. Calcium is an excellent acid neutralizer and our biggest calcium storage is our bones so naturally, this calcium is used to balance our PH and every time we consume milk, our bones get a bit more decalcified as it all gets disposed of through urine.
The milk industry has spent millions and millions of dollars trying to cover all of these studies and facts and trying to promote the consumption of milk and all dairy products but your body will not lie to you so listen to it.
Fortunately, nowadays we enjoy a wide verity of lactose-free products and non-dairy products that really make our lives easier. Personally, my transition from cow's milk to almond milk was a hard and bumpy one but I now enjoy my morning cup of coffee on almond milk and a yummy almond milk-based creme cheese alternative, having ran a full marathon my bones are strong and I am healthier than ever.
Hydrogenated Oils or Trans Fats are probably the most harmful fat you can consume.
They not only increase the "bad" cholesterol but they also decrease the "good" one. In addition, this artificial ingredient increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer.
Your body does not recognize these fats as artificial so it processes them as it would process natural fats. This artificial fat becomes part of your membranes, making your cells weaker. Also, this fat is stored for later use as energy (your body does this with natural fats); however, the body is not able to retrieve it easily, as it should, causing weight gain.
They are made from natural oils such as olive oil, canola oil, or corn oil. Now, as I'm sure you know, these oils are liquid at room temperature, so manufacturers process these oils to make them solid (or semi-solid) to give their products the right consistency.
This process of making these oils solid includes taking them to extremely high temperatures in order to separate the fat, then, hydrogen atoms are added through the hydrogenation process which exposes the fat to elements such as nickel, palladium, or platinum. These are all types of metals. This process results in what we commonly know as Trans Fats (or hydrogenated oils). This is a very cheap way for manufacturers to obtain the desired texture on a product, it also helps to increase shelf life and stability of foods.
So, what should you avoid at the supermarket? Unfortunately a lot of everyday use items contain this ingredient. Some of these items are: muffins, cookies, doughnuts, and margarine. Another tip to remember is that, as I mentioned on the previous "Food Labels" post, if a package advertises "0 trans fats" it does NOT mean it doesn't have trans fats. The FDA allows this banner on products containing 0.5 grams or less of trans fats per serving. Some manufacturers, instead of reducing the amount of trans fats, reduce the serving size! You end up eating much more than one serving, the more you eat, the more the trans fats add up.
And remember, always read your label and choose wisely!
-Eating Clean for Dummies by Wright Larsen
This is a big one! MSG has created a lot of fuzz and rightfully so, it is tremendously harmful! A lot of manufacturers mention MSG on their product's labels using its entire name because a lot of people don't realize that Monosodium Glutamate is in fact MSG. Another way for manufacturers to hide the MSG in their labels is by mentioning other ingredients that also contain MSG so if you see the label mentions "Autolyzed Yeast", "Maltodextrin", "Glutamic Acid" or "Sodium Caseinate", put it back on the shelf slowly!
Some of the reasons you should't consume MSG are the following:
Some of the foods where MSG is commonly found are Potato chips, frozen dinners, gravies, ranch dressings, salty snacks... basically everywhere.
Now that you know about MSG, remember to read your labels and choose wisely!
Eating clean for dummies by Wright Larsen
Aspartame is a sweetener commonly used on low calorie or sugar-free sodas, snacks that don't require heating or baking (Aspartame does not react well to heat) such as cereals, granola bars, protein bars, it's also found on ice cream, breath mints, fruit cups, jellies and so on.
This additive is made from genetically modified E. Coli, a bacteria fed in a way that it can defecate a protein that contains Aspartamic Acid-phenylalanine used to produce Aspartame. In other words, Aspartame is made from bacteria's feces.
Once this additive enters your body, it breaks it down into methanol, which the body then converts into Formaldehyde, a cancer causing chemical. This particular conversion can cause changes in cell structure leading to decease and serious health problems. Also, this sweetener, once consumed, it breaks the blood-brain barrier, after it crosses that barrier it can damage and kill brain-cells.
Aspartame accounts for more than 75% of the adverse reactions to additives reported to the FDA. These reactions include:
Now that you have learned the effects this awful additive has in your body, you might probably want to stay away from diet sodas and sugar-free gum, after all, it is not any better than the ones containing sugar.
And remember, always read your label and choose wisely.
Eating clean for dummies by Wright Larsen