Sugar, Carbs, and Whole Body Health

Hi friend, nice to see you again. How’s eating going for you? No, really, send me a message and let me know how your food journey is going!

I’ll kick this off by saying I don’t recommend any particular diet, and I don’t believe in eating for weight loss. If you’re carrying around an extra 20 pounds, stop worrying, unless you have labs that say you should make changes or you feel like you need to do something to feel better. Even then, don’t eat for weight loss.  If you’re carrying around an extra 200 pounds, stop worrying about eating for weight loss. Yes, seriously. I’m not saying don’t make changes, but when you stop focusing on eating being part of losing weight, the lifestyle changes you need will come more easily. Spend a lot of time checking in on how you feel when you eat certain foods, personally lots of simple carbs and dairy make me feel yucky. Doesn’t mean I never eat them, but I eat them sparingly and make sure to take some enzymes to help me digest them when I do. Funny thing is cutting out those two things, I eat a lot and I’ve lost weight.  I also feel better overall, it’s a small change, but it’s helped, and my partner is having the same experience. He says it’s getting older, I say it’s eating the way that works best for your body. You figure out what helps you feel your best, then eat that, at least most of the time.

Hold on, I’m going to do a 180 on you now. CUT OUT SUGAR. Yup, I’m on that bandwagon, because I feel the difference. Truthfully, I eat sugar occasionally because I do have a sweet tooth, but I feel awful afterwards. I do find that coconut sugar and xylitol don’t create the same issue for me, but I eat them sparingly. If you’re lucky enough to tolerate stevia, that’s a great option (I’m not a fan myself, here’s an interesting article about the genetic component to tasting sweetness). I mentioned in an earlier piece how dopamine levels are affected by sugar, this is an easy to follow TedTalk about how sugar affects the brain. Sugar is the number one reason to stop eating processed foods. Read the label, there’s probably sugar in there somewhere and those amounts add up quickly. Check our Sugar 101 on the American Heart Association’s website for a breakdown on sugar. Your recommended daily intake is 37.5 grams per day for men and 25 grams for women according to the AHA. Sugar behaves like a drug, increasing dopamine levels, BUT, over time you need more to achieve the same feeling.  Consume it sparingly, your body and your brain will thank you, particularly as you age.

To carb or not to carb, what should you choose? You can’t get away from carbs, they’re in pretty much all foods. “Glucose is produced when carbohydrates are digested or metabolized” and your brain functions on glucose. Too much glucose affects your cardiac function, the rates of cardiovascular disease are higher in diabetics. There is some evidence that people with Alzheimers have very limited use carbohydrates/glucose to power their brain function, but instead may still be able to use something called ketones. It’s something that needs more research, but it looks like preliminary research shows benefits from eating a very low carbohydrate diet.  It’s not uncommon for lots of people to vacillate between using glucose and ketones, when you don’t eat for an extended period of time and your liver has depleted the available glucose, the brain starts to use ketones. If you’ve heard of the keto diet or intermittent fasting, that’s a huge factor in why people choose to make those types of dietary choices.  It is theorized that when your brain is using ketones, it decreases brain fog and increases cognitive function. There are huge variations in the content of carbs in all foods. Cutting out carbs completely is not possible, but just like everything else, take a look at how you feel after eating certain foods. A lot of people agree eating carbs are fine, the key is to ask yourself, are you eating more than your body needs?

Your take away should be, cut back on simple carbs, cut out sugar, and eat whole foods. Don’t panic if you eat cake now and then, but do take a look at your habits. Your body is always telling you something and what you’re putting into it plays a huge role in that conversation.

Happy eating!


Additional References

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