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Rooted Wellness

Nutrition Myth Busting: Carbohydrate Edition

Nutrition Myth Busting: Carbohydrate Edition

Every day, I am assaulted with nutrition advice, whether it be at the supermarket, on my television, or on the web. I get an ulcer just thinking about all the new “nutrition rules” that are constantly being flung around. That’s why I consider it my mission to help cut through the BS and give you all the real deal (as in, information that is supported by real scientific evidence).

MYTH: Carbs are bad. And you definitely shouldn’t eat carbs at night.

First off, I’m sick of demonizing carbohydrates. Carbs are good! They are a great source of energy, fiber, and essential vitamins and nutrients. Carbohydrates aren’t just in bread — they are in fruits, some starchy vegetables, grains, beans and even dairy foods. So, cutting out carbohydrates means that you are missing out on a lot of healthful foods.

Second, eating carbohydrates  at night will not make you fat.  I cannot stress this enough. There isn’t a magical “fat burning switch” that turns off after 4 pm. What’s more important to maintaining a healthy weight is the amount of calories you are consuming OVERALL. It’s easy to subscribe to a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet for weight loss, however, while this type of diet may help you lose weight in the short-term, much of the evidence shows that this effect is often short-lived.

I like to look at eating carbohydrates in a common sense kind of way. Sprinkling carbs throughout your day, rather than eating a huge amount in one meal, is a much more effective strategy to maximize your energy and stay healthy. When you have a small amount of carbohydrates in each meal, you keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day, rather than that post-lunch afternoon slump that has you reaching for caffeine or sugar to get an energy boost.

Depending on your schedule and when you will be MOST active, you may want to consider tapering your carbohydrate intake throughout the day. If you are most active earlier in the day, eating your largest portion of carbohydrate in the morning is a good strategy. However, if you have an evening workout planned or you are more active in the afternoon, an afternoon snack with some form of carb (an apple and almond butter for example) will help keep you fueled for the rest of the day.

It goes without saying that some carbohydrates are healthier than others.

Here’s your cheat sheet….

Healthy Carbohydrates = NATURAL AND UNPROCESSED

Complex carbs break down in the body less quickly, which leads to more stable blood sugar levels throughout the day.

  • Whole grains – brown rice, quinoa, barley, wild rice, farro, amaranth, buckwheat, and whole grain cereals such as oatmeal and oat bran
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole wheat pasta and bread
  • Low fat dairy products
  • Beans and legumes

Unhealthy carbohydrates = REFINED AND PROCESSED

Simple carbohydrates break down quickly in the body leading to a sugar “spike” and eventual crash.

  • Anything white: white breads, pizza crust, pretzels, hamburger buns, and giant muffins and bagels
  • Anything with added sugars (this includes so-called "healthier" sugars like agave, coconut sugar, etc): baked goods, cakes, candy
  • Soda

Postpartum Trend: Placentophagy, What’s The Deal??

Postpartum Trend: Placentophagy, What’s The Deal??

Placentophagy, the practice of eating one’s own placenta -- either cooked, encapsulated, or raw, is becoming trendy among certain mommy circles. Health advocates and the media assert that the placenta retains hormones and nutrients that are beneficial to the mother and can aid in postpartum recovery. Some of the proposed benefits include prevention of postpartum depression, reduction of postpartum bleeding, more rapid uterine recovery, increased lactation, enhanced maternal bonding and boosting of the immune system.

So what’s the real deal behind this practice? Is it really the “magic bullet” to solve your postpartum woes? Usually, if something sounds too good to be true, it is. In a recent scientific review in the Archives of Women’s Mental Health, researchers determined that to date, studies that have investigated placenta consumption remain inconclusive. There is very little research on the effects of placentophagy in human populations. Not to mention, consuming one’s own placenta may be potentially dangerous to mother and baby.

One of the main functions of the placenta is to protect the fetus from exposure to toxic substances such as mercury, lead and pathogenic bacteria. Because the placenta isn’t sterile, toxic substances may remain in the placenta post-term. Bottom line: placenta ingestion may be more harmful than helpful, and until there is more scientific evidence to support this practice, your best bet is to steer clear.