Living the Good Carb Revolution
In the last century, we have gone from about five pounds of sugar per person per year to more than 140 pounds; if we add the huge amounts of highly refined carbs that we eat every day (white bread, rice, potatoes, chips, pastries, etc.), we end up with a type of nutrition that encourages fat production and accumulation in the body with no escape route, and the added consequences of constant exposure to daily extreme blood sugar highs and lows.
Up until a couple of centuries ago, we didn’t have unlimited access to food, especially highly refined, high-glycemic carbohydrates. What is commonplace to us today: grocery stores, convenience stores, restaurants, fast food, sugars, snacks and sodas, really appeared in the horizon less than 100 years ago. Thus our ability to modify, change and transform foods has grown at a pace thousands of times faster that our ability to evolve as a species to digest them in a healthy way.
Our primal instincts keep us in love with (or addicted to) sweet foods because they represent a quick and easy energy boost that our bodies needed for survival in a harsh environment. We evolved to obtain and save every single molecule of that energy source we could get our hands on by converting any sugars or carbs that we could not use immediately into fat.
On top of this, there is a perverse trap: our addiction to sugar. Recent studies show very clearly that our brain is stimulated by sugar in an incredibly similar way to hard drugs such as cocaine; the more we consume, the more we need to feel good, and it becomes a vicious cycle. The sum of our metabolic makeup, sugar addiction, bad carb dominance in the marketplace and lack of alternatives, makes it very difficult to escape the trap.
Most current dietary trends and research all seem to be pointing in a similar direction: reduce or eliminate sugar, avoid bad carbs, go back to eating more wholesome foods, cook less and eat more raw or fresh, favor vegetables, eat more protein and more recently, eat more healthy fats.
Lifestyle changes are always challenging, but there’s plenty of scientific data and studies today that show the beneficial effects of replacing highly refined high glycemic carbs (those we convert into sugar very fast) with “good carbs” such as ancient grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.
By substituting bad carbs with good carbs and reducing all forms of sugar intake considerably, we can transform our health and turn our body into a fat-burning machine, with stable sugar and insulin levels, reduced inflammation and a happy gut, which by means of billions of friendly bacteria, keeps us energized and feeling great.
Get creative in the kitchen or look for better options in the marketplace. If we really need to cheat, only do it in-between meals on an empty stomach and eat half the normal amount. Being healthy is not about being miserable, but making good choices at least 80 percent of the time and indulging in smaller quantity less than 20 percent of the time. Follow that rule of thumb and be healthy.
Luis Zapp is the founder and president of Zapp’s Dancing Grains, headquartered in Glenview. For more information, call 847-786-5600, visit ZappsDancingGrains.com or visit them on Facebook at DancinGrains.