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Yes, You Do Need Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates have gotten a lot of bad press recently. I like to joke that I feel my job is actually an attorney, with the way that I have to defend this macronutrient. So, here are my opening arguments for Carbohydrates... backed by scientific research and all!

Carbohydrates are the primary fuel source for the body... and more specifically, the brain. The brain loves glucose (which is the product of broken down carbohydrates) so much that it will pull glucose from other parts of your body that want to use it. About 95% of your brain's function is fueled directly by glucose.

What carbohydrates do for your body:

  • Stored Energy - Carbohydrates allow your body to always have energy on hand. It's stored as glycogen and paired with a water molecule, so that if/when you need it you can tap into that energy "savings account."

  • Prevent Heart Disease - Sources of carbohydrates are also typically high in fiber or contain fiber as well. Not only traditional carbohydrates like oatmeal, whole grains or pasta.... but also plant carbohydrates like corn, brussels sprouts and carrots. Consuming a wide variety of these foods will provide you with an adequate amount of fiber in your diet.

  • Regular Bowel Movements - There's that fiber again!

  • Serotonin Production - Carbohydrates are also the precursor for serotonin production. When you eat carbohydrates you are stimulating the "feel good" hormone as opposed to the "chill out" hormone, dopamine, that is created when you consume fats.

What happens if you don't get enough carbohydrates?

  • Reduced cognitive function - struggling to find a word, feeling low energy, having a foggy brain. Think back to third period math class in high school when you started to nod off.. maybe that was less about algebra and more about your body's need for carbohydrates!

  • Bad breath and increased hunger - sometimes when people say they're "addicted" to sugar they have created rules around sugar or carbohydrates and the feelings that they're having is their body telling them that they need carbohydrates.

  • Muscles and immune system can be compromised - your body runs predominantly on carbohydrates so if you don't have enough of them, these systems cannot keep up with the demands that you put on them.

  • Digestive System - If you are not getting an adequate amount of carbohydrates, your gut microbiome can be altered in terms of the microbiota that are living there and will effect the way your food is digested.

What if I have a diagnosis that says I shouldn't eat carbohydrates?

Trust me on this... Your body NEEDS carbohydrates!

If you are diagnosed with Celiac Disease - you need to cut out gluten, but not carbohydrates.

If you are diagnosed with Diabetes - you may need to consume carbohydrates in a way that is safer and more efficient for your body, so that your insulin is able to adequately take care of the glucose in your body. But heck yes, you still need carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are crucial in providing your body with the energy that it needs to function. I cannot defend them enough! As I always say, if something feels off... the fix is probably more carbohydrates.

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