Serious questions arise in the medical community about dietary recommendations. Some doctors say, “don’t take sugar” while others say, “when you lack sugar in the body, you end up developing cancer.” Which one is it?
Everybody - regardless of health status - should be encouraged to improve their diet in order to help control the growing threats of diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The trouble starts when many people seek advice from a doctor, a dietician, a friend or even unqualified individuals. The recommendations often vary greatly.
Hippocrates is known as the founder of modern medicine and is regarded as the greatest physician of his time. One of his most famous but often forgotten quotes is, “Let food be your medicine and medicine your food.”
Your body needs carbohydrates
The truth is that sugar broken down from carbohydrates is one of the body's most important fuel sources. It's readily accessible by most organs and tissues, available in large quantities and a preferred fuel for the brain and muscles. Everyone is different and no one diet is right for everyone. Be wary of anyone that promotes only one diet regardless of person or condition.
Understanding the sources of carbohydrates is the key to carbohydrate recommendations and a balanced diet. Sugar is often thought to be only the white, granular substance that you add to cakes, coffees and teas, but sugar is also found in pasta, rice, breads as well as vegetables and fruits.
Essentially all fruits and vegetables would be classified as bad, if sugar were bad. General claims that sugar produces disease will create more harm than good. Healthcare professionals need to be more specific and differentiate good and bad carbohydrates.
High glycaemic index carbohydrates like fizzy drinks, chocolate and cake will enter the bloodstream rapidly and cause blood sugar levels to significantly spike. This spike in blood sugar is known to elevate insulin, stress hormones and the inflammatory process that is known to produce disease in the body.
Berries, apples and nearly every vegetable are better sources of carbohydrates because they take longer to digest; reducing the time it takes for blood sugar levels to increase.
A food's ranking on the glycaemic index doesn't solely indicate whether it's a good or bad choice. As a general rule of thumb, whole foods - such as vegetables - are superior to processed, commercialised carbohydrates regardless of where the items fall on the glycaemic index.
You don't need the glycaemic index to make wise choices. Just eat the majority of your calories from whole foods: meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, dairy, and nuts. This will automatically eliminate junk foods and will provide a diet that is rich in vitamins, minerals and other healthful nutrients.
Can I eat junk food and exercise?
Diet is always important regardless of physical activity levels. One cannot exercise into a good diet. Eating highly processed, high glycaemic index foods will directly inhibit the results being sought by exercise. Consuming whole foods will enable one to exercise longer, more efficiently and allow one to recover faster.
The key to health is selecting the best carbohydrates. Eliminate items that are stored in a can or a box and seek out fresh produce, lean meats and consume a variety of nuts such as walnuts, almonds and pecans.
* Dr Cory Couillard is an international healthcare speaker and columnist for numerous newspapers, magazines, websites and publications throughout the world. He works in collaboration with the World Health Organisation goals of disease prevention and global healthcare education. Views do not necessarily reflect endorsement.
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