In my previous column I mentioned some of my favorite healthy carbohydrate (carbs) food sources — ones that you can actually eat and enjoy and not feel scared or guilty about. Carbs have the biggest effect on our blood sugar (glucose) levels, and if you are consuming more than your body can handle it can cause not only weight gain but can also can lead to many other health problems such as insulin resistance, which is mainly known as pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes.
Insulin is an essential hormone for survival, its main job is to control blood sugar levels and to store fat. Your blood glucose comes from what you eat so when you eat carbs, which are a type of sugar, the blood glucose levels will increase, depending on how much and what type of carbs you consume. As a side note, proteins and fats also increase blood glucose levels but much less than carbs.
The liver also makes glucose when needed, for example during fasting. So insulin is actually doing a critical job by lowering blood glucose levels, however when you eat too many carbs, too often, it can lead to insulin resistance. This happens when muscles, fat, and liver cells stop responding to insulin and as a result the pancreas tries to make more insulin which can cause blood sugar levels to go up.
So it’s not just how much carbs you are eating but also the type of carbs that makes a big difference.
For example, if the carbs contain high levels of nutrients and fiber then that will slow down the blood sugar levels. Here are some examples of these good carbs.
Buckwheat does not contain gluten and has a very high nutrient content, with antioxidants and minerals. Buckwheat is considered to be a pseudo cereal — plants that produce fruits or seeds which are used and consumed as grains — and is sometimes called “ancient-grains,” along with amaranth, quinoa and chia seeds. Buckwheat contains high amounts of fiber which can improve not only blood sugar levels but can also improve colon health too. It is also high in protein, manganese, magnesium and copper.
Einkorn flour is the healthiest flour that you can consume. Einkorn is an ancient grain that has never been genetically modified. Humans have eaten einkorn for more than 12,000 years, it was one of the first grains introduced into agriculture and archaeologists believe that the first loaves of bread were made with it. Unlike most other grains, whose quality has suffered from a reduction in the soil quality, einkorn is as pure today as it was thousands of years ago when people first started eating it. Einkorn does contain gluten, however its proteins are smaller and easier to digest so it actually scores a zero on the Gluten Index. This allows your body to extract all of the nutrition from the grain, and unlike the strong gluten in genetically modified wheat it is gentle on your digestion. Einkorn is delicious and can easily be integrated into your favorite recipes. It contains more lutein, manganese, zinc, phosphorous. magnesium, iron, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6 and fiber than normal wheat, as well as almost 30% more protein than wheat, so it is all round a much better nutritional choice.
Beets, or beetroot, are a purple root vegetable that are both delicious and highly nutritious, packed with vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds, many of which have medicinal properties. At the same time beets are low in calories and fat. They’re anti-inflammatory and are a great source of several key nutrients including folate, manganese, and copper as well as nitrates, which can help lower blood pressure levels. This may lead to a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke. Eating beets 2-3 hours before training can even enhance athletic performance by improving oxygen use and endurance. Beets are also a good source of fiber, which can help digestion. And they can also help in supporting the health of the brain and heart, and can even possibly slow the growth of cancer cells.
If you can, always try to include a variety of healthy carbs into your diet to be sure that you are getting the maximum amount of nutrients. Of course, don’t forget to consume veggies and whole fruits too, which also contain healthy carbohydrates. But always remember to watch the portion size, as the body can only handle a certain amount of food at one time. The amount of food that we eat in each sitting will have a huge effect on how well our bodies can process it and the nutrients that we can extract.
• “12 High Carb Foods That Are Incredibly Healthy” https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-healthy-high-carb-foods
• “Insulin Resistance & Prediabetes” https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes/prediabetes-insulin-resistance
• “Insulin Resistance” https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/insulin-resistance-syndrome
• “What Is a Pseudocereal or Non-Cereal Grain?” https://www.thespruceeats.com/what-is-a-pseudocereal-1664721
• “Healthy Grains: 25 Reasons Einkorn Tops the List” https://www.einkorn.com/healthy-grains/
• “What Is Einkorn?” https://jovialfoods.com/einkorn/
• “9 Impressive Health Benefits of Beets” https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-beets
Ayda Ersoy is a nutritionist (Dip.C.N., Dip.S.N.); master trainer (CPT ACE, NCSF, CanfitPro); registered yoga teacher; founder, Health Angel Nutrition, Fitness and Wellness; and founder, SMS (Stability, Mobility Strength) Intuitive Training System.
Source: The Garden Island