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Carbohydrates: Are They Really Essential To Good Health? | Affinity Health

Affinity Health, leading providers of affordable health insurance, probe whether carbohydrates deserve a seat at the table when it comes to a healthy diet.


What are Carbohydrates?

In the last few decades, carbohydrates have earned a bad rap for contributing to weight gain. They are also linked to increasing the risk of diabetes, raising the chance of heart disease, and contributing to high cholesterol.


Carbohydrates are a type of macronutrient found in certain foods that provide the body with a much needed energy boost. Just like fuel gives your car the juice it needs to make it run smoothly, carbs give your body the kick start it needs to stay energised.


Generally, there are three types of carbohydrates: sugars, starches, and dietary fibre. The human body needs all three types to function well because they all get used by our bodies differently.


Sugars and starches get broken down for energy usage and storage in our cells, tissues, and organs. Fibre, on the other hand, helps regulate things like digestion, blood sugar, and cholesterol.


While there are no “bad” foods, certain foods aren’t nutritious for the body. Carbs occur naturally in various healthy foods. These would include peas and beans, nuts and seeds, grains, dairy and dairy products, fruits, and vegetables. However, carbs may also be present in unhealthy foods. Such carbs would include white bread, white rice, cookies and pastries, sugar-sweetened beverages such as sodas and juices, and other highly processed foods.


For this reason, carbs are not “created equal,” and yes, some carbs are better than others are for our health and wellbeing.


Read More: How Many Kilojoules Should You Eat in a Day?


Examples of Carbohydrates

It’s essential to eat the right kinds of carbohydrates for your health. The glycaemic index (GI) and glycaemic load (GL) are two measures that are used to establish the quality of carbohydrate foods and categorise them as “healthy” or “unhealthy.”


The (GI) is a way that carbohydrates in foods and drinks are “ranked” according to how quickly they raise the glucose level of the blood.


Simply put, low GI foods, which primarily consist of complex carbs, have minimal effects on blood sugar levels. High GI foods can cause blood sugar levels to spike, triggering chronic health diseases. These could include type 2 diabetes, dementia, cancer and cardiovascular disease, to name just a few.


Read More: Diabetic? These are the Things You Should be Doing 


Carbohydrates are not bad when people manage the amount and types they consume and tailor these to their specific needs. Some people prefer making the switch to a moderately low-carb lifestyle.


Research shows that limiting your carb can lead to reduced blood sugar, insulin, and removing the triggers of chronic inflammation in the body.


“Before making any diet changes, it’s important to speak with a doctor or registered dietitian to determine your specific carbohydrate needs to optimise your health outcomes,” concludes Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading provider of health insurance, offering you a range of options at affordable rates including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance that meets your needs, your budget, and your lifestyle. Our range of healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service at all times. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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