Ditch This One Carb Culprit for a Happier, Healthier You

Not long ago, people thought that eating fat was one of the worst things you could do for your health. Now, sugar is seen as the predominant villain of the modern-day diet. Carbohydrate-heavy foods have dominated the Western diet, and while some sources of carbohydrates, like vegetables, are healthy, others are not. Refined carbs and sugar, in particular, can lead to chronic health problems.

When we consume carbohydrates, they break down into glucose, also known as sugar. While carbohydrates are a source of energy, we can only handle a certain amount at once. Some glucose is used for immediate energy, while some is stored as glycogen for quick access when needed. Any excess glucose gets stored as fat.

High-carbohydrate diets have been linked to numerous health issues. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) affects around 30 percent of the general population, with higher rates in people who are obese or have type 2 diabetes. The overabundance of sugar, fructose, and high fructose corn syrup in processed foods is a significant cause of NAFLD. High-carbohydrate diets have also been linked to increased cholesterol levels, while scientific research shows that carbohydrates play a more dangerous role in heart disease than fat does. When a person consumes too many carbohydrates, it raises their triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol while lowering their HDL (good) cholesterol. This leads to an increased risk of heart disease.

Insulin is the hormone that regulates energy, particularly carbohydrates. Insulin unlocks cells in tissues and organs so that excess glucose can be moved from the bloodstream to the cells, keeping blood sugar levels within a healthy range. When cells become insulin-resistant, blood sugar levels can rise. Numerous lifestyle factors can contribute to high blood sugar, which can irreversibly damage the body when left unregulated. Unregulated blood sugar levels can lead to prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, which are some of the most severe chronic health conditions facing our society today. Controlling blood sugar levels is crucial for overall health and avoiding disease.

To begin reducing your sugar and carbohydrate intake, minimize your consumption of sugars, refined carbs like pasta and bread, and starches like potatoes and rice. Whole grains are a healthier option, but they still contain high levels of carbohydrates. Consume smaller portion sizes to reduce your carbohydrate intake. Also, avoid high sugar/high glycemic index fruits and sugar-filled beverages like soda, fruit juice, and flavored water.

Instead, opt for healthier food options like slow carbs found in beans, legumes, black rice, quinoa, and buckwheat. Non-starchy vegetables like asparagus, celery, tomatoes, and peppers are all healthy carb sources. Low carb/low glycemic index fruits, such as blueberries, strawberries, cherries, and peaches are perfect alternatives for high-sugar snacking. Fill out your diet with protein sources like eggs, meat, nuts, seeds, healthy fats like olive oil and avocado, and fatty fish like sardines and salmon.

The key takeaway is to eliminate ultra-processed and packaged foods as much as possible, as these are typically the main sources of sugar and carbs for most people. When unhealthy carbohydrates are removed from the diet, health often shifts in a positive direction with positive results.