Thursday, March 15, 2012

What Staple of Most People's Diet is Unnecessary?

During my lecture on why supplements are usually a waste of money, I list the six essential nutrients that the human body needs to exist.

They include:
1. Vitamins
2. Minerals
3. Essential fatty acids
4. Essential amino acids
5. Oxygen
6. Water

This list is remarkable for two missing items. One is anti-oxidants. They are not considered an essential nutrient. The more amazing exclusion is carbohydrates. Homo sapiens does not need to consume a single carbohydrate to thrive. Wait, you say, don't we need glucose to fuel our metabolism? The answer is yes but glucose is a by product of proteins, from which we also get our essential amino acids. Also, fruits and vegetables, which are a natural source of vitamins and minerals (and antioxidants) are also a source of carbohydarates.

Nevertheless, our diets need not include carbohydrates. From an evolutionary perspective, the superfluousness of carbohydrates may explain the current obesity epidemic.  Early man did not routinely come across simple carbohydrates (like glucose) other than the more complex carbohydrates found in natural foods.  When he did, his brain signaled him to consume as much of it as possible. Even though it was not essential, it did provide for fast and easily used energy.

Today, we are bombarded with easy access to almost unlimited simple carbohydrates, many in the form of unhealthy snacks and deserts. Our minds and bodies continue to crave them even to the point of excess and we are not easily satiated by them when we eat them in even relatively large amounts. That is why there is some science behind the low-carb diets.

However, I am not in the camp that believes that carbohydrates should be replaced by fats in excess of what our bodies need. Studies have shown protein, which can be obtained from vegetable sources and even grains like quinoa, are a viable alternative to carbohydrates and can even contribute to increases in lean body mass.

So the next time you consider consuming a processed carbohydrate perhaps you will remember that it is not essential to your diet and will probably do you no good. Perhaps, you will now consider eating a vegetable instead.

5 comments:

  1. Maintaining an ideal weight is important for staying healthy and looking young.you can lose weight by triglycerides diets.Many people suffering from obesity face the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

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  2. I do not recommend any diets focused on triglycerides because too many fatty acids can contribute to heart disease. A diet, such as one based on the Mediterranean Diet, consisting of fruits, vegetables grains, nuts, beans, some healthy oils, and fish would be my preference.

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