“Carbs” has become a dirty word in recent times, especially in the weight loss world, due, in no small part, to the popularity of low-carb diets such as the Atkins, Dukan, and South Beach programs. This week, Hip & Healthy want to shed light on the different types of carbs and why we actually should be embracing them this Christmas rather than cutting them out.
Restricting your carb intake too drastically can lead to: decreased thyroid output, increased cortisol output, decreased testosterone, impaired mood and cognitive function, muscle cataboliam, suppressed immune function. In other words, you’ll feel lousy, spaced-out, sluggish, cranky and even sick. Who wants to feel like that around the holiday season?
Low-carb diets can significantly disrupt hormone production too. Women with too low carb intakes – especially active women – can face a stopped menstrual cycle, lowered fertility, hypoglycemia and blood sugar swings, more body fat (especially around the middle) loss of bone density, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues, chronic inflammation, and worse, chronic pain, chronic fatigue and disrupted sleep and a host of other chronic problems!
Carbs are also crucial for building muscle. Low carb diets increase muscle breakdown, because severely low carb intake lower insulin levels. When you don’t get enough carbs to meet your needs, your catabolic (breaking down) hormonal environment is created, which means more protein breakdown and less protein synthesis.
Below are some of our favourite carbohydrates for the winter season that are filled with nutrients that will keep your body strong, healthy and happy!
The perfect, warming, winter breaky has to be oatmeal! This grain contains beta-glucans, a type of soluble fibre that slows down the absorption of carbohydrates into the blood stream. This slower digestion prevents dramatic spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels that would otherwise encourage our bodies to produce and store fat. Oats are a rich source of magnesium, which is key to enzyme function and energy production, and helps prevent heart attacks and strokes by relaxing blood vessels, aiding the heart muscle, and regulating blood pressure. A body of evidence suggests that eating magnesium-rich foods reduces your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Experimental and clinical data also suggests a link between magnesium deficiency and depression.
LUNCH – Brown Rice
Rich in selenium, brown rice helps reduce the risk for developing common illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and arthritis. Also high in manganese, it helps synthesise fats and benefits nervous and reproductive systems. Not only does this fibrous grain contain naturally occurring oils, it also aids regular bowel function and makes digestion that much easier (We could all do with a little helping had after all those mince pies!). So for a fuller tummy and a that satisfied feeling, stock up on some brown rice!
DINNER – Winter Squash
Perfectly in season and super flavoursome, the squash is one of the richest sources of plant based anti-inflammatory nutrients. Containing omega 3s and beta-carotene, the winter squash can help boost your immune system to help protect against colds and flu. The carbohydrates found in the winter squash come from the polysaccharides found in the cell walls. These polysaccharides include pectins which have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti diabetic and insulin-regulating properties. Try our fantastically cosy Butternut Squash Soup here!