WPS Health Insurance Blog

Think twice before reducing carbohydrates

Posted by Mark Mitchell

May 16, 2013 9:00:00 AM

CarbsEliminating carbohydrates from your diet, specifically complex carbs (starches) such as grains, beans, rice, pasta, and breads, can have both positive and negative effects on your health. The body needs carbs to function; they are its primary fuel source. But too many carbs can lead to increased weight gain.

I work with folks who have asked about cutting carbs either for weight loss or because they are gluten intolerant. Below are some of the pros and cons of reducing the carbs in your diet.

Pros:

  1. Key nutrients can be found elsewhere: The two major benefits of eating grains are the positive effects of dietary fiber and B vitamins. The good news is that these can be provided when eating other foods. For example, instead of eating cooked brown rice, try collard greens, which contain nearly double the fiber of rice.
  2. Burn more fat: In the grand scheme of existence, farm-raised grains are a relatively new component to our diet. Our ancestors rarely consumed grains. Reducing the amount of grains you consume will force your body to pull energy from its fat stores, which can lead to weight loss.
  3. Reduce negative inflammatory properties: Grains contain starch, which can lead to chronic inflammation when consumed in highly processed form. This chronic inflammation is linked to conditions like arthritis, allergies, asthma, and potentially even cardiovascular disease.

Cons:

  1. Digestive issues: Fiber is the drain cleaner of the human body. If you do not actively seek high-fiber foods, such as fruits and vegetables, cutting out carbs can lead to digestive issues.
  2. Kidney damage: Low-carb diets typically result in people eating greater quantities of proteins instead. According to the Mayo Clinic, high-protein diets can lead to increased kidney disease and should not last for more than four months.
  3. Increased cholesterol in bloodstream: Again, if you eat large amounts of protein in the absence of carbs, your cholesterol and triglyceride levels may increase given the increase in animal-based products you consume.

Before making drastic changes in your diet, be sure to consult your doctor. He or she can offer advice based on your personal situation and goals. The best all-around way to improve your health is a well-balanced approach to your diet plus moderate to vigorous physical activity most days of the week.

Look to our WPS Health Center for more information on carbs and on healthy eating in general. Have you tried to cut carbs from your diet? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

Topics: Wellness