Reaping the Benefits of Healthy Carbohydrates: How They Can Help Our Health and Minds
Carbohydrates are a key source of energy for our bodies, providing the necessary fuel to help us perform our daily activities. Nutritionist Nidhi Nigam explains that carbohydrates are a vital macronutrient that supplies the nervous system with energy, and not consuming enough of it can have severe consequences. Lowering our intake of carbs can quickly drain our energy levels, leading to feelings of tiredness. Eating fruits, which are high in carbs, can still be beneficial due to their vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. For those participating in frequent exercise sessions, sufficient carbohydrate consumption is vital to replace energy stores in the muscles.
A 2019 meta-analysis in The Lancet suggests that increased consumption of carbs can be beneficial to our health. Eating an optimal amount of 25-30 grams of fiber per day can reduce our risk of diabetes, colorectal cancer, and stroke or heart disease.
Carbohydrates are broken down by the body into glucose, which is then used as energy for our cells, muscles, and organs. Glucose fuels activities such as running or thinking, and excess glucose is stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles. They also have a protein-sparing effect, allowing proteins to build muscle, repair wear and tear, and help the body grow. Post-workout consumption of carbs can stop muscle tears and promote muscular growth.
Contrary to popular belief, healthy carbs can even help us lose weight. Fibre and complex carbohydrates help improve digestion and keep us full for a longer period of time. Additionally, conscious consumption of carbs can improve heart health by helping to regulate cholesterol levels. Finally, research by Tufts University found that a low-carb diet affects people's memory, so they recommend eating healthy carbs every day to maintain a sharp mind.
Overall, carbohydrates are essential to the body, providing us with the energy we need to get through our daily activities. While it is important to limit our intake of unhealthy carbs, conscious consumption of healthy carbs can have numerous benefits, from weight loss to improved heart health.
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