The Answer is Yes! And Good Carbs Are Delicious!
Good carbs. Bad carbs. There has been an epic fight going on in nutrition for a long while now. In this corner: carbohydrates are great! They fuel us for exercise and sustain our metabolism. In the other corner: carbs are bad! They contribute to the obesity epidemic and can spike blood sugar to dangerously diabetic levels.
So which is it? The ongoing fight has knocked the general public around until we feel confused about our health and constantly punch-drunk. Well, here’s a dose of truth from the nutritional counselors at the National Stem Cell Institute (NSI). Both sides are right. There are good carbs and there are bad carbs. And understanding the difference isn’t as mindboggling as you might think.
Sorting Out the Good Carbs Hype from the Bad Carbs Hype
First off, we need to make one thing clear. Both sides in the controversy can get a little…shall we say…overly enthusiastic. Add to all that, the meteoric rise of particular diet regimens like the low-carbohydrate diet or high-fat ketogenic diet and it’s no wonder it can make your head spin.
And when your head spins, it makes it hard to know which direction to take! Should carbs be avoided altogether? Or should they be rigorously counted? By the end of this article you’ll understand the science behind good carbs and bad carbs, and how to tell the difference. We’ll do some myth busting along the way, too, to shed more light on the macronutrient known as the carbohydrate.
So what is a carbohydrate, precisely? A carbohydrate –or carb, for short- is a molecule. Generally speaking, a carb molecule has a hydrogen-oxygen atom ratio of 2:1. Carbs are one of the macronutrients our bodies need to sustain metabolism and energy levels. When we ingest carbs, whether good carbs or bad carbs, our digestive tract turns them into glucose.
This conversion into glucose is critical, because it’s the actual fuel that the body burns to produce heat and make a molecule known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Think of ATP as the keeper of the energy storehouse. Its job is to store and release energy according to the needs of our body’s cells
Carbs come in three categories:
- Sugars are small-chain carbs. They’re the ones that make something taste sweet. Think glucose, sucrose, galactose and fructose, for example. Sugars are frequently labeled as bad carbs.
- Long-chain glucose. These carbs have a longer chain molecular structure that sugars (hence the name “long-chain glucose”).These get broken down into glucose as they work their way through the digestive tract. Starches in foods like rice, potatoes, breads, and pastas are good examples.
- Finally, we come to the carbohydrate known as fiber. Unlike sugars and starches, our bodies can’t break down this carb in normal digestion. But that’s not to say they aren’t a valuable macronutrient. Our gut bacteria extract some of the fiber to use as fuel, converting fiber into short chain fatty acids.
Foods that are high in fiber are also great sources of prebiotics which are carbs that serve as food for probiotics, the microorganisms in the digestive tract that are considered “good bacteria” and play an important role in health.
Labeling these macronutrients as good carbs or bad carbs is a relatively new dietary concept.
Our bodies have basically remained the same over the past hundreds of thousands of years. By comparison, civilization as we know it came into being no more than several thousand years ago. That means that for the vast majority of human history, we could no more depend on a steady diet than the wildlife around us. So “good carbs/bad carbs” wasn’t much of an issue. The hot dietary topic for most of human history was simply not starving.
Bad Carbs and What Makes Them “Bad”
Today, however, in many parts of the world –such as the U.S. – food is so abundant and diverse it has tipped the scales toward a different kind of health crisis. In the developed nations, most people don’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from. But our bodies don’t know that. The same urges that were essential in keeping us alive hundreds of thousands of years ago are still in full career, and show no signs of relenting.
That means we need to be much more aware of what we eat than our very early ancestors had to be. Part of that awareness is to understand the realties –not the hysteria- behind good carbs and bad carbs. A great deal of our modern day health relies on knowing the type of carbs we consume.
Whole, unprocessed foods are generally classified as healthy or “good” carbs.
Think sweet potatoes, bananas, potatoes, brown rice, yucca, legumes and dates, for example. Whole, unprocessed foods like these still have their nutrients intact. Since they’re still in their original state, they haven’t been significantly altered to the point that their nutritional value and fiber content has been negatively impacted.
Now let’s look at the opposite end of the spectrum. Refined carbohydrates are a product of modern civilization. They are foods with little to no nutritional or fiber content present. Refined carbs have gone through a processing method that strips the food product of many essential vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids. Think white flour, white rice, white pasta, pastries, and many processed fruit drinks, for example.
By and large, they’re all about selling a food product and making the consumer come back for more. In other words, refined carbs are designed to hook you on flavor and to trigger that ages-old instinct to eat while the eating’s good. The goal isn’t to nourish you. The goal is to make you buy more.
Good carbs have a very different impact on insulin levels than refined or “bad” carbs do.
A 2013 study that appeared in the American Journal of Epidemiology showed the effects of refined carbohydrates coronary heart disease. It was found that the prolonged intake of bad carbs led to an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease and obesity. This is because processed carbohydrates lead to constant blood sugar fluctuations all through the day. This blood sugar roller coaster impacts overall human performance and longevity.
Meanwhile, researchers from the American Heart Association studied the harmful effects of a high glycemic index when processed carbohydrates are consumed. Processed carbs are considered bad carbs, and are known as high glycemic-load foods.
Impaired glucose intolerance is strongly connected to the consumption of bad carbs.
When these foods are eaten consistently over a period of time, greater concentrations of insulin circulate through the bloodstream. There is little doubt today that high glycemic-load foods cause an increased risk in developing type 2 diabetes and has now also been connected to Alzheimer’s disease.
Good Carbs and What Makes Them “Good”
The news on bad carbs and the way unethical manufacturers are manipulating how we eat has caused a bit of a backlash against carbohydrates in general. The truth is that not all carbohydrates are bad. Healthy carbs (good carbs) are also high in sugar and starch, but they have vastly different effects on the body.
Take for example the purple sweet potato. This source of good carbs is chock full of complex sugar molecules, and unrefined starches. Purple sweet potatoes also have a variety of vitamins, trace minerals, and phytochemicals. They have been shown to help slow cancerous cell growth and boost overall metabolic function and cardiovascular health.
Other examples of foods with good carbs include:
- Sweet potatoes
- Brown rice
Is There Such a Thing As Too Many Good Carbs?
Just like anything else in life, good carbs can be overdone. After all, good carbs are delicious! So, how can you enjoy the great taste of good carbs and reap their nutritional benefits while not fearing the weight scale?
When determining your personal carb count, you’ll want to keep in mind that your nutritional needs will be unique from others. You’ll need to take into account your personal health goals, age, sex, body type, activity/training level and metabolic health. On average, however, for those looking to achieve a healthy weight, 100 to 150 grams of good carbs is ideal for weight management, supporting energy levels, and a sense of overall vitality.
100 to 150 grams of good carbs works out to approximately 15% to 30% of your total daily caloric intake.
You may find it very helpful to find a good carbohydrate calculator online like the one on Calculator.net. You’ll want to keep in mind that these carb calculators are generalized, but they can help you move into the range that brings you closer to your individual needs. For people who have a carb-sensitive disease or neurological condition, such as type 2 diabetes or Alzheimer’s disease, a lower carb regimen may be in order.
Some People Find Carb Cycling an Effective Way to Both Enjoy and Limit Carbs.
Carb cycling is a type of nutritional regimen that centers around taking in more good carbs on specific days of the week while dialing back on them during others. There are specialists in the nutritional science field that believe carb cycling can accelerate weight loss. They may be on to something. It has been shown that cycling good carb days helps in the maintenance of lean muscle mass, assists exercise recovery, and balances out metabolism and hormone regulation.
Always remember, however, that balance is key. For most people, going too low on good carbs can negatively affect health and daily performance. It can impact mood, cognitive performance, aging, hormone imbalance, sleep quality and recovery from exercise. Studies have shown that restricting good carbs can have a negative effect on thyroid function, leading to weight gain, fatigue, brain fog and low mood.
Summarizing the Good Carbs/Bad Carbs Debate
So now we know that there are such things as good carbs. In fact, the right carbs in the right amounts are crucial for optimum health. Good carbs are found in whole foods like tubers (potatoes and sweet potatoes), whole grains, whole grain breads, and fresh fruit. But, like all foods, good carbs should be eaten in moderation.
It’s the bad carbs that are largely behind the controversy and have muddied the waters over the years when debating whether there are good carbs at all. Bad carbs are largely the product of the commercial food market that is focused on profit over consumer health.
The manufacturers rely on refined sugars, carbohydrates, and chemicals to generate flavor.
They “game” the brain’s ancient pleasure centers to bring us back for more, and have little to no regard for the nutritional value of their customers. Bad carbs are in foods like refined white flours, refined sugars, candy, ice cream, the majority of packaged snacks, frozen foods, and fast foods.
While good carbs should be a part of virtually everyone’s healthy diet, the unique health needs of each person should be taken into account. For example, diabetics need to be especially mindful of carb and sugar intake. Be sure to consult with your doctor or nutritional counselor before making changes to your dietary regimen.
There’s no need to fear carbs.
But there is a need to know what kind of carbohydrates you’re putting on your plate. With just a little understanding you can bring good carbs into your life, eliminate bad carbs, and reap the nutritional benefits. So relax and enjoy!
About the National Stem Cell Institute (NSI)
The National Stem Cell Institute (NSI) is a leading regenerative medicine cell clinic based in the United States. NSI specializes in stem cell therapy and platelet-rich plasma therapy. From diseases like diabetes and COPD to injuries of the spine and joints, NSI has helped patients recover from disease, heal from injury, and improve quality of life.
NSI is a fully licensed regenerative medicine facility that strictly adheres to FDA guidelines. NSI encourages the public to call with any questions regarding stem cell therapy and how it may pertain to any health concerns. Below, NSI offers tips on selecting the right stem cell clinic for you.
What to Look for in a Stem Cell Medical Clinic
When searching for a qualified stem cell therapy center it’s important to remember that not all of them are created equal. Stem cells, when used properly, are your body’s most powerful means for healing that can repair everything from ligaments, tendons, and cartilage to organs including your liver, pancreas and lungs and even neurological tissue like your brain, nerves and spinal cord.
Unfortunately, the majority of so-called “regenerative medicine clinics” in the world aren’t trained in the latest, most technologically advanced procedures and will, therefore, provide poor results if any.
The good news is the National Stem Cell Institute (NSI) has established the most advanced stem cell and platelet rich plasma procedures on the planet which has drawn patients from all over the world as well as professional athletes and celebrities because they are recognized as the best in the world at stem cell therapy.
What makes NSI Stem Cell the top stem cell clinic in the world is demonstrated in 5 key areas:
1. Highly trained and experienced, board-certified doctors and team members who have performed stem cell procedures on thousands of patients with incredible results.
2. Cutting edge procedures utilizing all that regenerative medicine has to offer for many chronic degenerative conditions.
3. Leading scientific researchers who follow the advanced guidelines to maximize the healing potential of your stem cells and to maintain compliance and ethics
4. Use of only the most potent and viable resource of living, viable stem cells and harvested on the same day. No vial that you can purchase will contain living stem cells. If there is no harvest then there are no stem cells.
5. Post-operative guidance for supporting stem-cell growth including rehabilitation, diet and supplement protocols. NSI is a full-service healthcare center focused on patient outcomes. Stem cell therapy is only one tool used to help improve patients’ lives.
Patients have raved about their experience at NSI Stem Cell Clinics testifying that it was their unique cutting-edge procedures that helped them experience a breakthrough when nothing else worked.
If you want to learn more about NSI Stem Cell Clinics, you can set up a complimentary consultation today to see if you are a candidate. You can contact the National Stem Cell Institute at (877) 278-3623.