Woman's Own

October 25, 2018

These carbs shrink your waistline, boost your immunity

…testing is very important

By Somi Igbene

Would you believe me if I told you that you can still eat carbohydrates (carbs), lose weight, possibly reverse type II diabetes and lower your risk for developing other diet-related health conditions? With keto and other versions of low-carb diets currently trending, I bet you’re not convinced, but please hear me out.

Carbs are the primary source of energy for your body. Your brain, muscles and virtually all the tissues and organs in your body depend on it in the form of glucose to function efficiently. It is true that when you eat low-carb diets, your body is eventually able to switch from burning primarily glucose for energy to ketones.

Despite those changes, you’ll find that you start getting strong cravings for carbohydrates and finally start ‘cheating’ on your diet by either sneaking in foods like white rice, sugary treats or pastries. Low-carb diets are not sustainable for the vast majority of its supporters longterm. They have other negative health consequences, but that’s a topic for a later date.

How can you eat carbohydrates and still achieve your health goals?

Well, you’ll have to focus on making complex carbohydrates your primary source of fuel. Complex carbohydrates provide slow-releasing energy which prevents spikes in blood sugar levels and keeps you feeling full for more extended periods because of their high fibre content. Foods like fresh fruit, vegetables, legumes (beans, peas and lentils), whole grains (brown rice, millet, oats) and starchy vegetables (yams, plantains, sweet potatoes) fall into this category. These foods are very nutrient-dense and provide a range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other phytochemicals that boost your immunity.

Fast-releasing energy carbohydrates like sweets, white flour and white sugar are very nutrient-poor. They tend to spike blood sugar levels very quickly, which then fall just as fast. These blood sugar spikes leave you feeling very hungry soon after you eat and encourage you to eat more to suppress your hunger. If you choose the same carbs again when you’re hungry, you’ll keep repeating the same cycle. Also, because these foods, when prepared are usually high in fat (think meat pie, cake, chin chin, biscuits), you’re more likely to gain excess fat rapidly.

Your action plan: don’t avoid carbs completely, instead;

  1. Eliminate or avoid foods that contain any form of sugar, foods with added sugar and white or refined foods.
  2. Eat at least three servings of dark green, leafy and starchy vegetables like ugwu, bitter leaf, waterleaf, green, sweet potatoes, yams, and plantain daily.
  3. Eat at least two servings of fresh fruit like apples, oranges, watermelon, pears or grapefruit. If you have glucose-related problems like diabetes, you should keep fruits to a minimum.
  4. Eat at least four servings of whole grains and legumes like brown rice, millet, oats, corn, beans and peas daily.

If your next question is ‘what constitutes a serving?’ that’s excellent. I’ll cover that next week, stay tuned!