Try a Slow-Carb Habit
Carbohydrates - found in grains, breads, pasta, and sugar, as well as vegetables, fruit, tofu, beans, and dairy - provide the body with the most efficient fuel for energy production and brain activity. They're nutritionally essential, a principle currently downplayed by the "low-carb craze".
What is important to understand is that not all carbohydrates have the same "fuel efficiency". Many carbohydrates - termed "refined" or "simple" - cause blood sugar highs and lows which can result in a period of high energy followed by a period of extremely low energy, often leaving the person craving more of the simple quick release carbs.
Examples of these "refined" carbs are regular pasta, white bread, snack foods and baked goods. The weight loss plans that advocate eating less or none of these foods are on the right track, except they tend to throw out the GOOD carbs as well. We'll call these "slow carbs", and here's why:
After you eat them, the carbohydrates in foods are broken down and released as sugar units (glucose) into your bloodstream. "Slow carbs" are foods that release glucose at a slower rate.
Typically, these foods are "whole foods"; that is, they contain the fibre and minerals that are often removed in making their refined, "quick-release" counterparts. (Such is the difference between whole wheat bread and white bread.)
Choosing "slow carbs" over refined carbs helps keep your blood sugar balanced (positively affecting your hunger level, mood and mental concentration, among other things). Fibre also promotes regularity and helps maintain healthy blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Examples of "slow carbs" are whole grain breads and crackers, potatoes with their skin, beans & legumes, brown rice, oats, and whole grain pasta.
Here are five tips for creating a "slow carb" habit:
1. Whole Foods - Eat as close to natural as possible. Vegetables, fruits, beans and lentils are whole foods that contain all of their original nutrients (fibre, vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates for energy).
2. Grains & Breads - When it comes to grain products such as breads, crackers, cereals, and pasta, choose "darker", whole grain varieties. This can be done in restaurants as well as the grocery store.
3. Snacking - Fruit is an excellent snack. Consuming the whole fruit provides the slow-release carbs and will sustain your energy for longer, as opposed to fruit juice, which provides the body with a quick release of fruit sugar into the bloodstream. Another great snack to try is sliced red peppers with hummus (made from chickpeas).
4. Take the time (you're worth it!) - Seeing as some of the slow-carb options take longer to cook (e.g., brown rice versus white rice), make them ahead of time, and make extra to freeze for future meals. Brown rice is very versatile; try it in soups, casseroles, stuffed vegetables, or for breakfast (warmed) with cinnamon, raisins, chopped nuts or ground flaxseed.
5. Read labels - "Whole wheat" (or other "whole" grain) should appear before any other flour in the ingredient list. White flour can be disguised as "wheat flour", "enriched flour", "unbleached flour", or "grain flour", to name a few.
Working at substituting "slow carb" foods into your lifestyle will ensure that you have ample energy, proper nutrition, and that you maintain a healthy weight. Of course it's also essential that you find some ways to be active and that you limit high fat and high calorie snack foods as best you can.
(c) Copyright 2005, Genuine Coaching Services.
Susan Baker, B.Sc.,RHN, RNCP is a registered nutritional consultant who supports individuals on their path to optimal healing through nutrition consultations, with a special interest in digestion and food sensitivities.
Linda Dessau, the Self-Care Coach, is the author of "The Everyday Self-Care Workbook". To receive one of her free monthly newsletters, subscribe at http://www.genuinecoaching.com/newsletter.html
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The purpose of this article is to provide you with a tool, a resource that you can print out and discuss with your physician. Negative Clinical Studies: Increased cancer recurrence in patients with head and neck cancer: Bairati and co-workers (J Natl Cancer Inst. 2005 Apr 6;97(7):481-8.) found in a multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized chemoprevention trial among 540 patients with head and neck cancer treated by radiation therapy that supplementation with alpha-tocopherol (400 IU/day) produced unexpected adverse effects on the occurrence of second primary cancers and on cancer-free survival. No increase in cancer risk, but increased risk of Heart Failure in patients with established vascular disease or diabetes: The HOPE Trial Investigators (JAMA. 2005 Mar 16;293(11):1338-47) evaluated whether long-term supplementation with vitamin E (Daily dose of natural source of 400 IU of vitamin E or matching placebo) decreases the risk of cancer, cancer death, and major cardiovascular events. The Hope vitamin E trial was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled international trial of patients at least 55 years old with vascular disease or diabetes mellitus (9541 patients, in 174 centers) with a median duration of follow-up of 7.0 years. The investigators examined cancer incidence, cancer deaths, and major cardiovascular events (myocardial infarction, stroke, and cardiovascular death), heart failure, unstable angina, and need for cardiac revascularization. Among all HOPE patients, there were no significant differences in the primary analysis: for cancer incidence, 11.6% in the vitamin E group vs 12.3% in the placebo group developed cancer (a non-significant reduction for vitamin E); for cancer deaths, 3.3% in the vitamin E group vs 3.7% in placebo (also not significant) and for major cardiovascular events, 21.5% vs 20.6%, respectively (not significant). Of concern, was that patients in the vitamin E group had a significantly higher risk of heart failure and hospitalization for heart failure. The authors concluded that in patients with vascular disease or diabetes mellitus, long-term vitamin E supplementation does not prevent cancer or major cardiovascular events and may increase the risk for heart failure. Increased all-cause mortality: A meta-analysis of randomized, 19 controlled clinical trials (135,967 participants) evaluating the dose-response relationship between vitamin E supplementation and total mortality (Ann Intern Med. 2005 Jan 4;142(1):37-46. Epub 2004 Nov 10.) Published by Miller and associates at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, found High-dosage (greater than or equal to 400 IU/d) vitamin E supplements may increase all-cause mortality by 5% and should be avoided. Neutral Clinical Studies: Risk of Coronary heart disease (CHD) in Smokers not effected: The effect of vitamin E on coronary heart disease (CHD) was evaluated in the alpha-tocopherol, beta-carotene cancer prevention (ATBC) study (Eur Heart J. 2004 Jul;25(13):1171-8.). 29,133 male smokers, aged 50-69 years were randomized to receive alpha-tocopherol 50 mg, or beta-carotene 20 mg, or both, or placebo daily for 5-8 years. The risk for a first-ever major coronary event was insignificantly reduced by 5% among alpha-tocopherol recipients compared with non-recipients, and the risk for non-fatal MI was insignificantly reduced by 4%. The authors did not advocate the use of vitamin E supplements due to the weak findings. Cardiovascular mortality and all cause Mortality not effected: In a meta analysis of eighty-four trials (J Gen Intern Med. 2004 Apr;19(4):380-9.) examining outcomes of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality, fatal or nonfatal myocardial infarction vitamin E was not found to have neither positive nor adverse effects. Shekelle and colleagues found that the use of vitamin E supplements insignificantly reduced the risk of all cause mortality by 4%, insignificantly reduced cardiovascular mortality by 3% and trended toward but did not achieve a significant reduction in nonfatal myocardial infarction, reducing the latter by 28%. Positive Clinical Studies: Reduced Risk of Congestive Heart Failure and Myocardial Infarction In two large clinical studies conducted by Stampfer et al470 and Rimm et al,471 vitamin E supplements were associated with a reduced risk of congestive heart failure. In an analysis of almost 45,000 men in the Health Professional Follow-up Study database by Ascherio and associates,823 the use of vitamin E, or multi-vitamin supplements, was associated with a significantly decreased risk of myocardial infarction. These results suggest that higher supplemental doses of vitamin E may be beneficial in patients with CAD, especially those on diets high in polyunsaturated fatty acids. Reduction in Risk for Cardiovascular Disease and Myocardial Infarction (Heart Attack): The Nurses' Health Study, a study of 121,700 women between the ages of 34 and 59 which was conducted by Manson and co-workers,69,805 used food frequency questionnaires to demonstrate a relationship between dietary intakes of foods rich in vitamin E and beta carotene, and the reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease.
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