Controversy persists about what food plan is best for all -- paleo, ketogenic, Mediterranean, myPlate, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free and on and on and on ....
Right now low carb diets are all the rage. The big question -- How low should you go?
30 g, 50 g, 100 g ?????
I believe we're NOT all created equal.
One diet does not fit all. Each of us are unique with nuances in terms of different genes, gut bacteria, enzymes, food tolerances --- and let's not forget -- what tastes good to us.
Why does eating one way make some feel more virtuous? I think all this "nutritionology" is insane!
I'm not against carbs -- or fats, animal proteins, gluten, or dairy -- just any foods that offer very little nutrition value.
With that being said -- on to Part 2 of my series, Rate the Reds -- The Best Carbs.
In this post I will present the foods included in the RED list -- the carb list.
I will discuss the better carbs in terms of vitamin and mineral content, fiber, prebiotics, probiotics and organic vs. conventional. You will learn not all carbs are created equal and how many RED servings to consume daily for best blood sugar control.
I'm not going to dicker over 1/2 cup vs 1/3 cup because it's just not worth it. We don't live in metabolic kitchens, nor are we conducting complex experiments, so "ballpark" it is.
Then there's the plate method- an even more "ballpark" portioning method. This is the one I use daily. Works for me.
On to the RED list ...
Servings are estimated and each serving contains approximately 15 gm carb.
Measure or portion foods after cooking, as you would eat them. Highest fiber sources found in List 1.
Beans/legumes 1/2 cup
Barley 1/2 cup
Millet 1/2 cup
Buckwheat 1/2 cup
Bulgur 1/2 cup
Wheat Berries 1/2 cup
Cereals 1/2 cup
Corn 1/2 cup
Parsnips 1/2 cup
Peas 1/2 cup
Fruit (fresh, all kinds), 1 small or 1 cup
Rice, brown 1/2 cup
Popcorn, popped 3 cups
Squash 1 cup
Sweet potato/yams 1/2 cup
Quinoa 1/2 cup
High carb foods lower in fiber
Bread 1 slice
Cereals 1/2 cup
Cream of Wheat
Milk 8 ounces (check labels as brands differ in carb content)
Fruit, canned 1/2 cup
Pasta 1/2 cup
Peas 1/2 cup
Potato 1/2 cup
Rice, white 1/2 cup
Roll 1 small
Soup 1 cup
Tortilla, corn 1-6 inch
Tortilla, flour 1-6 inch
Yogurt, fruit-flavored 4-6 ounces
There's the list.
I prefer RED - List 1. Here's why:
Promotes healthy guts and regularity due to the fiber
Contains more vitamins and minerals
Slower and less blood sugar rise after eating due to net carbs(grams of carb in a food portion minus the grams of fiber)
Wonderful taste and texture
First, a few definitions important for a happy belly:
Gut microbiome - The trillions of bacteria living in our digestive tract. These play a role in every aspect of health including digestion, immunity, weight, heart health, mood and memory. The mix of these microorganisms is unique to every individual.
Probiotics – Live bacteria we consume in fermented foods. Eating and drinking these promotes the growth of good gut bacteria (gut microbiome). They rebalance the gut so we can digest foods and absorb nutrients better.
Prebiotics - These act as food for probiotics and promote growth of good gut bacteria. Fiber is a source of prebiotics. Try to eat high fiber foods in the raw state or minimally cooked.
Dysbiosis – An imbalance of microorganisms in the gut -- not enough good bacteria to balance out the bad stuff. Gut dysbiosis can lead to changes in the lining of the intestines. This can cause bacteria and toxins to leak into the blood (leaky gut syndrome). Inflammation is the result.
Why is Dysbiosis so Bad?
The primary functions of the gut are:
1) digesting foods
2) absorbing nutrients
3) preventing toxins and pathogens from entering the body.
These functions are impaired with dysbiosis. Besides feeling lousy, research is suggesting dysbiosis, with its resulting inflammation, can lead to these diseases over time:
Various types of cancer (colorectal, breast)
Irritable or inflammatory bowel disease/syndrome
Neurologic diseases like Parkinson’s disease
The foods in List 1 REDs are the best choices because all are excellent fiber sources, 3-7 g fiber per serving on average.
The fruits found in the RED, especially good for gut health include: apple, banana (under ripe), fig, orange, mango, peach, papaya, cherries, kiwi, grapes, melon (all kinds), pineapple and berries.
Known prebiotic sources found in the RED: whole wheat, wheat bran, chicory root or inulin (found in cereals and other foods), oatmeal, apple, grapes, blueberries, banana (under ripe).
Known probiotic sources found in the RED: Kefir and yogurt.
If these nutrition "recs" are new to you, gradually add in prebiotic foods and fibers to avoid any digestive distress such as gas or diarrhea. Aim for at least 30-40 gm fiber daily over a period of time. Drink plenty of water to avoid constipation.
Recommendation: 3-6 RED's daily
ORGANIC VS CONVENTIONAL
Organic foods can be expensive and difficult to find in the regular grocery store. If an extra trip to a specialty market just isn't convenient, there are many home delivery options now available. I know for me this was a great choice for the last year. When I did a price comparison, I found the prices couldn't be beat on some, but not all items.
Another advantage to ordering foods on line -- it's a great way to plan and budget. I would load up my e-cart with everything I wanted with a running total. It made it easy to add and delete items, enabling me to stay within my spending limit.
This feat isn't always so easy at the grocery store. I'm not so good at "brain math" without my calculator. I also lose focus and end up buying way more than I planned. There goes the wallet!
BEST: Grow your own produce. If not an option, buy local or organic. If your budget doesn’t allow for organic, and local isn't available, follow these guidelines as adapted from the 2017 Environmental Working Group (EWG):
Lowest level of pesticide residue. Okay to buy conventional vs organic:
Sweet Peas (frozen)
Due to high pesticide reside, recommend buy organic vs conventional:
Carbs have the biggest impact on blood sugar -- the more consumed, the higher the blood sugar goes. Limit portions and increase intake of List 1 REDs.
And remember as always ...
Eating healthy doesn't have to be complicated.
Eat at least 2-3 times daily.
Space meals 4-6 hours apart.
Include carb (preferable from List 1 and lots of veggies), protein and fat at each meal.
Cut back on portions, especially carb foods and beverages.
Choose whole, real foods, avoiding processed foods as much as possible.
Good for the entire family. No special food plan for you and then another for the kids. Same foods, but different portions based on body size and physical activity.
NOTE: If you have diabetes, consistency from day to day with when you eat, how much you eat and when you take prescribed medications to lower blood sugar is key.
It may seem boring, but best results are seen with consistent daily patterns or habits.
The information presented here is neither revolutionary or "sexy". It's just plain simple -- and it works. Sometimes the simple gets lost in all the confusion.