When you’re trying to drop a few pounds or you just want to eat healthier, it’s tempting to try to cut the carbs from your diet. Afterall, we’ve all lived through the Atkins diet-loving era, and this carb-free philosophy still runs strong today. Here’s the thing: You NEED carbs! We’re talking about the good, healthy ones (not cake, ice cream, and potato chips.) Your body depends on them to function properly and at its highest level. Let’s look at 8 reasons why whole grains, fruits, and veggies are so important to include in your eating plan.
They Help Your Brain Work Better
This one is huge, especially as you age. Your brain needs carbs to function properly. Your brain runs on glucose, and you get glucose from carbs. If you don’t have enough of them, your ability to think, learn, and remember stuff will decrease because the neurotransmitters in your brain will not have enough glucose to synthesize properly.
They Help Reduce Bloating
As we discussed a few weeks ago in the “Fiber-Up for Fall” article, good carbs, like whole grains, fruits, and veggies, contain a lot of fiber. This is great for many reasons, which includes helping to keep your bowel movements regular. That means that you’re less likely to feel puffy because your body will naturally eliminate waste more efficiently.
They Speed Up Your Metabolism
My guess is your metabolism isn’t quite as fast as it used to be. That’s why it’s so important to do everything you can to keep it revved up. Eating the right amount of carbs will keep your metabolism fired up and burning fat as efficiently as possible. As my dietetics professor repeatedly said, “Fat burns in the light of a carbohydrate.”
They Make You Happier
Do you feel like pasta can make anything better? Believe it or not, there’s actually some truth behind it. Most carbs contain tryptophan, which helps to produce the “feel-good” hormone, serotonin, in your brain. Without enough tryptophan, and therefore serotonin, you’re more likely to get depressed and have sleeping difficulties.
They Give You Energy
Think about trying to run your car without gasoline. It probably would work so great, right? That’s basically what happens when you try to run your body without carbs. Carbs are fuel for your body because they contain glucose, which is your body’s number one source of energy. Protein and fat can work too, but they aren’t as efficient. Carbs are definitely your best source of energy, which is particularly important if you’re exercising.
They Contain Good-For-You Vitamins
Whole grains contain lots of B vitamins, which help your body make energy from food and help you make red blood cells. And, fruits and veggies are loaded with essential nutrients like vitamins B and C. They contain antioxidants that keep your immune system strong and your skin looking healthy.
They Help Prevent Heart Disease
Healthy carbs can make for a healthy heart! Research shows that whole-grain carbs, like breads, pasta, and rice, help reduce your chance of heart disease and lower your cholesterol. The fiber in these foods plays a role in making this happen.
They Just Taste Good
Face it: Most of us love carbs because they’re delicious. And, if you banish anything from your diet, you’re more tempted to binge on it later. A healthy lifestyle isn’t about creating an all-or-nothing approach. It’s about creating healthy habits that you can picture yourself doing 10 years from now. Keep carbs in those plans. Enjoy healthy ones most of the time and have your favorite treat on special occasions.
Stay happy, healthy, and N motion, AND REMEMBER…age is just a number!