Why ditching the carbs may not be a great idea

Cutting out the carbs – We need carbs for many important roles in the body therefore drastically cutting out carbs, particularly for long periods of time, can negatively influence gut health, mood, adrenal function and even thyroid health which may lead to symptoms of extreme fatigue, worsened anxiety and difficulty losing weight. Low carb diets can reduce the hormone insulin which is required for the conversion of inactive thyroid hormone T4 to T3 and chronic low carb diets may influence thyroid hormones and thyroid function.

A low carb diet can increase cortisol levels which can heighten anxiety and stress which is why low carb diets are a potential adrenal stressor and why many people crave carbohydrates when they are feeling stressed or tired. Good quality carbs e.g. wholegrains, legumes, fruits and veggies help decrease cortisol and increase GABA, a calming hormone often low in adrenal fatigue.

Carbohydrates are a good source of prebiotics, the necessary fuel our beneficial gut microbes require to help keep us healthy and for the production of anti inflammatory beneficial compounds called Short Chain Fatty Acids that we need for general health and well being.

By all means cut back on the unnecessary ultra-processed refined carbs which tend to be low in fibre and nutrients but be sure to include beneficial carbs such as whole grains, legumes, fruits and veggies as these are important for our gut microbes and general health and well being.

How many carbs should we be eating?

Carb intake varies significantly depending on age, size and activity level. As a very general guide aim for an average of 45% - 65% of your total calories from carbohydrates. Going lower than 30% carbohydrate intake particularly long term is not recommended for most people.

Small, elderly and sedentary people or those needing to lose weight may need less calories and it is therefore always recommended to speak to a nutritionist to determine what is best for you.

What should we include more of in 2022?

The latest evidence tells us that the diversity of food in the diet, particularly plant based, is key to general health and wellness. Look to include at least 30 different types of plant based foods a week to increase the diversity in your diet.

Aim to include more of the following -

Wholegrains – E.g.Oats, Rye, barley, wholewheat

Legumes – E.g. Chickpeas, blackbeans, lentils, peas

Nuts and seeds – E.g. Almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts, flaxseed, hemp, chia, pumpkin seeds

Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables - E.g. Leafy greens, capsicum, carrots, pumpkin, tomatoes, beets, cauliflower, berries, citrus, pears

Herbs and Spices - E.g. Rosemary, basil, turmeric, cumin, mustard seeds, garlic, chilli

Omega 3 – E.g. fatty fish – sardines, salmon, tuna, anchovies, walnuts, chia, flaxseed

The greatest predictor of a healthy gut microbiome and good health is the diversity of plant foods in the diet.

Featured Posts
Recent Posts