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After you determine the amount and type of healthy carbohydrates you can tolerate it’s likely that these types of foods will remain a par...

Carbohydrates: The Good and the Bad

After you determine the amount and type of healthy carbohydrates you can tolerate it’s likely that these types of foods will remain a part of your diet. When choosing carbohydrate foods it’s important to realize that not all are created equal. Some carbohydrates are more natural than others, thus the response they evoke in the body is less dramatic. In general, the more highly processed the carbohydrate food, the worse it is for you. Highly processed carbohydrates generally
have a higher glycemic index than those that are processed less or not processed at all. Most commercially processed bread, bagels, rolls, cereals and other grain products, and those containing sugar, are so highly processed with virtually no nutritional value they can
only harm your body and brain, impairing human performance. This does not mean you can’t enjoy eating — in fact, there are many ways to create gourmet meals, including desserts, which are not only delicious but healthy.
So what carbohydrates should you eat? At the top of the list of unprocessed carbohydrates is fruit. In addition to containing vitamins and minerals, fruit also contains important phytonutrients.
Though fruit is a carbohydrate food, the glycemic index of most fruit is low to moderate because fruit contains substantial amounts of fiber, and because fruit sugar, or fructose, has the lowest glycemic index of all sugars. Most fruits contain a combination of fructose and glucose,
and those with the most fructose have a lower glycemic index. At the low end of the glycemic index are cherries, plums, grapefruits, apricots, cantaloupe, berries and peaches. Apples, pears and baby
bananas have a more moderate glycemic index, with grapes, oranges and large bananas scoring higher. Pineapple, watermelon and dried fruits are among the highest-glycemic fruits and should be eaten sparingly, if at all. Most people who are CI can tolerate some amount of fresh fruits, although sometimes they can only eat from the low
glycemic group.
Legumes or beans can be tolerated by many people, but often in small amounts. These foods are thought by many to be a protein food, but most contain much more carbohydrate than protein. For instance a serving of red beans typically may have 6 grams of protein and 16 grams of carbohydrate, with 5 of these carbohydrate grams as fiber. Because of the presence of both protein and fiber, the glycemic index of red beans and other legumes remains relatively low for a carbohydrate
food. In addition, other legumes may have even lower glycemic effects. Overall, because of their composition, most beans, including lentils, have a moderate glycemic effect, and are a good alternative to refined-carbohydrate foods.
Vegetables also contain carbohydrates, though most have only small amounts. Vegetables are an extremely important item in the diet and are discussed in detail in a later chapter. Some vegetables, however, contain moderate to high amounts of carbohydrates and therefore
warrant discussion here. Among the higher-carbohydrate vegetables are corn and potatoes, which  should be eaten sparingly, if at all. In fact, a baked potato has a whopping 37 grams of carbohydrate — as much as a serving of cooked pasta — and a higher glycemic index
than some cakes and candy. New potatoes have a much lower glycemic index than other varieties. The reason potatoes and corn are such high glycemic foods is because they have been genetically
changed to be sweeter than the same foods a generation or two ago. Many people consume the bulk of their carbohydrates as grains.
Whole grains, and products made from them, are more healthful than their refined counterparts, and contain more of the nutrients and fiber
from the original grain. For instance, whole oat groats are better than the common processed oatmeal cereals, especially the “quick” oats. Long-grain brown rice is better than short-grain white rice. Wild rice, which isn’t really a rice but a seed from a reedy grass, is fairly low in
carbohydrate and has a moderate glycemic index as well. There are a number of breads on the market made from whole, sprouted grains, and most have a lower glycemic index. Processed wheat flour (white flour) can increase insulin levels two to three times more than true whole-grain products. But whether whole or processed, grains are starches and more difficult to digest than most foods, and many people,
often unknowingly, are intolerant to wheat of any kind. Wheat is
such a common problem for many people that I devoted the section
below to it.

Wheat: The Shaft of Life

Wheat may be the most unhealthy food staple of the Western diet next to sugar, contributing significantly to ill health and disease. We all know how bad sugar is for health due to its high glycemic nature,— but wheat and wheat products can actually be worse due to an
even higher glycemic index, so eating that piece of bread is not unlike eating a couple of spoons of white table sugar! And, much of this wheat, and sugar, turns to fat. For example, almost half of that socalled fat-free bagel can turn to stored fat. Wheat is a lobbying success story, like the tobacco industry, as it’s found in most people’s media-driven diets. It’s certainly not recommended, for its nutritional reasons as we can obtain whatever benefits wheat contains (some fiber and nutrients) in many other healthy foods. And, considering the health risks, wheat’s place on any food
pyramid is a scheme that serves those who are addicted and the companies
that sell it.
The facts are clear: Wheat is unhealthy. It’s a common cause of intestinal problems, allergy and asthma, skin problems; it prevents absorption of various nutrients, contributes to weight gain and the
obesity epidemic — and occasionally causes death. The reason for wheat’s failure as a healthy item is twofold; the protein component of wheat, called gluten, is highly allergenic in
many people, including infants who are unfortunately given this as their first food. And many people are adversely affected by gluten without realizing it, with a slow, silent buildup of chronic illness.
Gluten is what makes bread rise, so most baked goods and packaged foods are full of it.
The second reason wheat is unhealthy is that almost all wheat products are high glycemic — from bread, bagels and muffins to cereals and additives to many packaged foods to wheat flour itself, a staple in almost all kitchens and recipes. High-glycemic foods contribute to chronic disease, weight gain and other ills, and along with sugar
wheat ranks among the worst. Gone are the days when people would buy real whole-wheat
berries, grind them and make flour or sprout them for use in food products. While the berries still contain gluten, they’re not high glycemic. But almost all wheat used today is processed, making it
high glycemic.
Consider too that wheat makes up a significant part of most people’s diet. In doing so it also replaces many potentially healthy foods such as vegetables, fruits, protein foods such as eggs and meat, nuts
and seeds, and others. For example, instead of unhealthy cereal for breakfast, a vegetable omelet would be a much healthier choice for
most people.
The list of specific conditions associated with wheat keeps growing — from autoimmune diseases (such as arthritis, Type 1 diabetes, lupus, MS) and chronic inflammation to infertility and skin disorder
(such as eczema, acne and psoriasis); and even cancer.
Some people are more sensitive to the harmful effects of wheat than others. Wheat allergy is among the common allergies in children and adults, along with milk, soy, peanuts and corn. The most practical way to assess this is to note how you feel after ingesting wheat.
The most common symptom is intestinal bloating, but signs and symptoms are associated with skin, breathing and edema, and may be immediate or delayed. If you’re sensitive to wheat, significantly reducing or eliminating it from your diet is the most effective

Here are some other points about how wheat can harm us:
• In the intestines, wheat can bind important minerals
from food and prevent their absorption. These include
calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and copper — all essential
for good health.
• Wheat can reduce digestive enzymes, especially those
from the pancreas, rendering key foods less digestible —
including protein and fats. By not digesting protein,
amino acid absorption is impaired, and whole protein
absorption could cause allergies. And by not digesting
fat, essential fatty acids may not be absorbed, adversely
affecting a whole spectrum of problems from skin quality
to inflammation and hormonal balance.
• Since wheat is high glycemic, it can lead to the production
of higher amounts of insulin by the pancreas. In
addition to causing more fat storage, this can also
increase your risk of various diseases including diabetes,
cancer and heart disease.
• Combining exercise and wheat can trigger allergic reactions
in some people, although it’s not common. This
occurs when a person eats some form of wheat, and exercises
within a given time period. This is followed by
some allergic reaction, from mild problems (sometimes
so mild people are used to it) like skin rash or hives to
more severe problems including anaphylaxis and even
death. This may also include breathing difficulty. It is
sometimes difficult to diagnose because of the need for
both triggers (wheat and exercise) around the same time
period. It’s conceivable that some of the deaths reported
in athletes are due to this problem.
• High-glycemic wheat products, which are often sweetened
with more sugar, can result in a sweet-tooth — or
addiction — that not only perpetuates the desire for more
sweets, but the dislike for health-promoting less sweettasting
and bitter foods, like vegetables.
• Wheat can sometimes cause mental or emotional symptoms,
including depression, mood swings, attention problems
in children and anxiety. Long-term illness associated
with wheat allergy includes dementia due to cerebral
(brain) atrophy.
• Osteoporosis may be strongly associated with wheat
• Other health issues can also be associated with wheat
consumption. These include belching or gas, diarrhea or
other abdominal discomfort; reduced mental focus and
poor concentration, and fatigue — some people actually
fall asleep after a meal containing wheat, even just a

   The extreme condition of wheat intolerance is celiac disease, and patients must avoid any amount of wheat or risk serious, sometimes life-threatening reactions. Many professionals now agree that even mild forms of wheat allergy are really the same thing — a sub-clinical celiac condition.
  If you’re in doubt about what wheat may be doing to your health, consider strictly avoiding it for a couple of weeks or a month. You just may become a new, healthier person.

What about Sweeteners?

Sweeteners are carbohydrates, or sugars, in their purest form. They range from highly processed and higher-glycemic products such as maltodextrin and table sugar, to the lower glycemic sources such as
honey and agave nectar. As with other carbohydrate foods, the least processed and more natural sugars are the healthiest sweeteners. Most sweeteners are complex carbohydrates — high glycemic
and more difficult to digest. These include all maltose sugars (maltodextrin, malt sugar, maple sugar and syrup), corn sugars and syrups (high-fructose corn syrup), all cane sugars whether white or
brown, rice syrups and molasses. Perhaps the best sweeteners to use are low-glycemic simple carbohydrates that don’t require digestion and are unprocessed. These
include agave nectar and honey. I recommend honey for many reasons as discussed below, but in moderation and not to exceed your carbohydrate tolerance.
Honey has been used for centuries as both a sweetener and a remedy, and remains today as the most natural sweetener available.
Honey contains a variety of vitamins, minerals and amino acids, including antioxidants. In addition, honey has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects. Recently a large volume of scientific literature has substantiated honey’s therapeutic value, as well as its ability to improve endurance in athletes.

   Honey is also perhaps the only carbohydrate food that does not promote tooth decay through acidity. In general, proteins and fats raise salivary pH, making it more alkaline, while carbohydrate foods lower pH, making it more acidic. Honey is the sweet exception — a carbohydrate that may raise pH levels. In addition, honey has an overall beneficial effect on oral health due to its antibacterial effect and ability to reduce dextran, a sticky, sugary substance that helps
bacteria adhere to the teeth. Like fruit, honey is primarily a blend of fructose and glucose.
Different types of honey have different ratios of each type of sugar. Those that crystallize fastest have the highest glucose content, and thus the higher glycemic index. Since fructose has the lowest glycemic index of all sugars, honey with higher fructose content will have the lowest glycemic index. Sage and tupelo honey, for example, are known for their high fructose content, while clover honey has a medium fructose content, and alfalfa honey is higher in glucose.
When shopping for honey, look for a number of attributes. Dark honey may be the most therapeutic and have the most nutrients. Buckwheat honey is said to contain the highest amounts of antioxidants.
Raw, unfiltered honey retains more beneficial qualities. Heat, light and filtering remove some of the beneficial properties of honey. Agave nectar is very high in fructose with a very low glycemic
index. But it lacks the therapeutic benefits that honey contains. Due to its high fructose content, some individuals don’t tolerate it. Intestinal distress is the most common symptom, and in those with high triglyceride levels, high fructose intake may worsen the condition.

What about Artificial Sweeteners?

I recommend avoiding artificial sweeteners in virtually all situations because I believe fake sugars can have an adverse effect on your health. Some say the research is still not clear on this issue. But I say why wait when there’s enough information about it? Artificial sweeteners are used in many food items: diet soda, chewing gum, ice cream, iced-tea mixes and many other products. If you want to avoid them you must read the labels. While substances such as saccharin are not recommended for children or pregnant women, and aspartame has been related to an increased incidence of migraine headaches and allergic reactions,
another fact has been ignored: The use of artificial sweeteners is most often accompanied by increased consumption of food. In other words, if you use artificial sweeteners, studies show you often end up eating more food, usually sweets. What’s worse is that you may store
more fat as well. Researchers are unclear why this happens, but certain factors seem to be implicated. It may be a learned process by the body. The tasting of sweet substances may cause the body to store,
rather than burn, fat. Or, it may be related to the dehydration that accompanies consumption of artificial sweeteners. This may trigger the brain to increase the appetite and food intake as a means of restoring water balance. Eating low-calorie substances will lower the
body’s metabolism. This will not only cause the body to store more fat but also activate the need to eat more food. Some people argue that artificial sweeteners reduce calories. You
may be fooled into believing that you are buying a more-healthful, low-calorie food when you choose a product made with fake sugar.
But you’re avoiding only 15 calories per teaspoon when using an artificial sweetener. This is not a significant caloric factor. Not only that, counting calories, as discussed elsewhere, is unhealthy.
Clearly if you want to be healthy and continually improve human performance, you need to understand how carbohydrates can affect overall health, especially in relation to your particular needs. In general, refined carbohydrates are best eliminated. The best choices are
fruits, legumes and whole grains if tolerated, with small amounts of honey as a sweetener. As you begin to choose your carbohydrate foods more wisely, you will notice that you feel better. This is part of becoming more intuitive about your diet and individual needs. In addition to making wise choices about carbohydrate foods, you need to do the same when it comes to eating fat, which is discussed in the following chapters.

Carbohydrate Intolerance and The Two-Week Test

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