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Carbs: Friend or Foe?

December 22, 2008

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Many Americans associate eating carbohydrates with weight gain. Is this really the case though? Think about other cultures. The Japanese consume high-carbohydrate diets composed of a lot of rice and starchy veggies and yet the majority of them are thin. What’s up with that?

The truth is all carbs are not created equal. It’s the highly processed ones found in white bread or cakes and cookies that are the problem, not the kind found in whole grains, fruits or vegetables. As more Americans are starting to eliminate them from their diets in order to lose weight, scientists are finding a link between fuzziness and carb-intake. In fact, a recent study found that eliminating carbs could leave you fuzzy headed and forgetful.

This supports the idea that there is actually a connection between the foods we eat and how we think. Carbohydrates are fuel for the brain. The body breaks them down into glucose, which it uses to fuel brain activity. Proteins then break down into glycogen, which can also be used for fuel by the brain.

Try an experiment. If you have eliminated carbohydrates from your diet, incorporate more whole grains into your diet, like long grain brown rice, kasha or quinoa. See you how feel. If you tend to eat a lot of carbs on a regular basis, try eliminating them from your diet for a few days. In either case, note how you feel. Do you notice any difference? Everyone is different, so it is important to tune into your body.

About the author

Joshua Rosenthal is the Founder and Director of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. He has worked in the nutrition field for more than 25 years, teaching at the school alongside health leaders including Andrew Weil, Deepak Chopra and Barry Sears. At Integrative Nutrition students are trained as Health Coaches, receiving the holistic nutrition education necessary for them go out into the world and help others improve their health and happiness.