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7 Carb Myths You Should Know

7 Carb Myths You Should Know

Oh, carbs. Love ’em or hate ’em…  who are we kidding? You love ’em. We all do. But are they good or bad for you? Well, it’s complicated.

With so much conflicting information out there, it’s hard to know what’s what. What was good has become evil and what was evil has become good in a dietary sense, and round and round we go.

Here are a few myths about carbs explained to help you navigate the nutritional seas.

1. Cereal is a heart-healthy breakfast

Cereal is a staple in what we we think of as “a balanced breakfast” because it’s “light”. But it’s composed of highly processed carbohydrates for easy eating, which are just as easily broken down to sugar in our bodies.

Some brands try to offset this fact by adding “oat clusters” or nuts, but they’re usually coated in some form of sugar. How did you think the clusters clustered?

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All those simple carbs and sugars can actually do damage to your heart according to the Cleveland Clinic.

2. Grains and legumes should be the base of a “healthy” diet

Remember the classic Food Guide Pyramid from the USDA? The one with grains and legumes dominating all along the bottom of the image? It’s out of date! The USDA Food Pyramid has been replaced by MyPlate.gov, a more comprehensive and vegetable heavy approach to eating a balanced meal.

Guess what you should actually be eating most of? Veggies of course!

3. Granola bars are a “healthy” option

Candy bars are bad and granola bars are good, right? Not so, I’m afraid.

Granola bars are compact little blocks of processed carbohydrates. Even if they’re composed of more slowly broken down grains like whole oats, (most aren’t) they’re held together by sweeteners from corn syrup to honey.

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You’re better off snacking on some raw nuts or maybe an avocado, both of which have sustaining healthy fats to hold you over and won’t spike your blood sugar.

4. Exercise is more important than watching carbs

Let’s face it, we all hate cutting carbs. They’re so comforting and delicious.

If you’re trying to loose weight, or just be healthier, they really are one of the first things that should be reduced. Some people exercise more rather that eat fewer carbs. Anything not to cut back!

But according to this article from the British Journal of Sports Medicine, that’s not the best method. Over the past 30 years, obesity has reached new highs. While our physical activity levels haven’t reduced much, our carbohydrate and sugar intake has increased considerably.

Some people even manage to maintain a healthy weight by exercising more, but the strain on the system from all that exertion as well as the inflammation caused in the body from eating too many carbs and sugars can put seemingly fit people at risk for hypertension, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and heart disease.

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5. Fruit has “healthy carbs” so you can eat as much as you want

You may think that “eating clean” means loading up on a big, fresh fruit salad first thing in the morning to get yourself started on the right foot. Not so fast.

Simple carbohydrates, be they the much-feared high fructose corn syrup, or regular old fructose occurring naturally in most fruit, will burn up quicker than a phoenix in the California hills.

This will spike your blood sugar and bring you crashing down just as if you ate a couple doughnuts. Not to say fruit is bad. Just that there’s always too much of even a good thing.

For a better start, have a protein based breakfast like an egg or some chia pudding with green veggies.

6. Gluten is the cause

Celiac disease is very real, and those who have it should absolutely avoid gluten. But for those who seem to experience gastrointestinal issues when eating glutenous grains and are not celiac, you could be misdiagnosing yourself as “gluten sensitive”.

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Recent studies have been pointing to the more likely possibility of a sensitivity to fructans, a carbohydrate found in some glutinous grains, garlic, artichokes and some fruits. There’s also evidence pointing to sensitivity to the lactose in some dairy products and galactans, which are found in some legumes.

It might be more complicated than simply a sensitivity to gluten. The particular details of this sensitivity are outlined in the diet movement known as FODMAPs. Read more about it here.

7. All carbs are the enemy

There are carbs in almost every food, even vegetables! Complex carbohydrates in grains and starchy veggies have health benefits and nutrients too.

A wide variety of foods consisting of mostly whole, low sugar options is ideal. Just do a little research into what carbs are better for you. (Spoiler alert, white bread and sugar will be on the naughty list). But you can enjoy whole grain or grain-free baked goods as occasional treats, even if you’re living a low carb lifestyle.

Variety makes life interesting. And who wants to live an uninteresting life? Happy conscious baking!

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Hannah Glenn

Copywriter and Editor

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Last Updated on November 11, 2019

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

4. Feed Your Brain

Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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6. Write it Down

If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

7. Listen to Music

Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

8. Visual Concepts

In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

9. Teach Someone Else

Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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