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Whole Grain Benefits

Are there healthy and unhealthy carbs?

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Carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients found naturally in plant foods, including peas and beans, nuts and seeds, grains, dairy and dairy products, fruits and vegetables.

The other two macronutrients are dietary fats and proteins.

Carbohydrates are an essential nutrient – meaning a person must ingest them through food – and the body needs them to function properly as they serve as the primary source of energy.

The word “carbohydrates” is an umbrella term that describes different types of sugary molecules found in foods.

In general, there are three types of carbohydrates: sugar, starch, and fiber.

It is possible to further classify them into simple or complex carbohydrates, depending on the number and type of sugar molecules – like glucose – that each structure contains.

Simple carbohydrates

Also called “simple sugars”, “sugars” or “saccharides”, these carbohydrates contain between one and 10 sugar molecules and are found in fruits, vegetables and dairy products. Those with one or two sugar molecules are called monosaccharides and disaccharides, respectively, while those with up to 10 sugar molecules are called oligosaccharides.

Lactose – the main sugar in animal milk – is a disaccharide made up of the monosaccharides glucose and galactose.

However, oligosaccharides are medium-length prebiotic carbohydrates found in high-fiber foods and breast milk.

Complex carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are made up of polysaccharides, which are longer, complicated chains of sugar molecules. Complex carbohydrates include both starch and fiber.

Starches are the stored carbohydrates in peas and beans, grains and vegetables and provide the body with energy.

Fiber, or fiber, is the indigestible part of plants – found in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, and legumes like peas and beans – that supports good intestinal health.

Carbohydrates often have a bad rap for the association of their excessive consumption with weight gain, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes.

This phenomenon, referred to by some researchers as “carbotoxicity”, encourages the idea that excessive consumption of all types of carbohydrates promotes the development of chronic diseases.

Because of this, many low-carb diets are popular with people interested in losing weight or controlling blood sugar levels. They are popular even with seasoned athletes.

However, several other studies have shown that the quality of the carbohydrates people consume is just as important as the quantity.

This finding suggests that some health options are better than others, rather than “making all carbs equal”.

“Unhealthy” carbohydrates

Carbohydrates that people consider unhealthy because they are less nutritious include:

  • refined carbohydrates like polished rice and flour
  • sugar-sweetened drinks such as sodas and juices
  • highly processed snacks including cookies and pastries

According to existing research, a diet high in these types of carbohydrates and fewer of the more nutritious options can increase markers of inflammation and maintain hormonal imbalances in people with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

Excessive consumption of simply added sugars is also linked to an increased risk of insulin resistance, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer.

However, studies differentiate that added sugars and simple sugars, which are naturally found in foods, may not have the same negative effects.

A 2018 study even suggests that natural sources of sugar like honey can be effective in lowering blood sugar levels and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

New research continues to shed light on the negative health effects of these so-called unhealthy carbohydrate foods.

Experts recommend a balanced diet that consists mainly of nutritious foods and that only contain these types of carbohydrates in moderation.

“Healthy” carbohydrates

Some of the more nutritious sources of carbohydrates that people typically consider healthy include:

  • Fruits like bananas, apples and berries
  • starch-free vegetables like spinach, carrots, and tomatoes
  • Whole grain products like whole wheat flour, brown rice, and quinoa
  • Peas and beans, such as black beans, lentil peas, or chickpeas
  • Dairy products and dairy products such as skimmed milk, yogurt, and cheese

Research has linked a diet high in these complex carbohydrates – like the Mediterranean diet – to anti-inflammatory benefits, lower insulin resistance, and reduced risk of chronic disease.

Researchers attribute many of these benefits to the fiber content of complex carbohydrates.

For example, the fiber in whole fruits improves long-term weight management and supports regular bowel movements and healthy aging.

Additionally, improving the quality of your diet by consuming more complex carbohydrates and fiber can improve some of the effects of PCOS, such as: B. Insulin resistance and increased androgens.

A 2020 review found that the fiber in whole grains offered several health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease, bowel disease, cancer, and diabetes.

The glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) are two metrics that people have used to determine the quality of carbohydrate foods and classify them as “healthy” or “unhealthy”.

The GI is a measure of the blood sugar-increasing potential of a single carbohydrate-containing food compared to pure glucose.

Low GI foods, composed mostly of complex carbohydrates, have minimal effects on blood sugar levels. This includes whole grains and non-starchy vegetables. High GI foods include potatoes and foods with added sugar.

Likewise, people use GL to gauge how much a particular meal is likely to raise blood sugar levels.

Although people have used both the GI and GL for decades to guide meal planning and control blood sugar levels for people with diabetes, the science is inconclusive.

Many studies suggest that increased intake of low GI foods improves health outcomes, but other studies show that differences in daily glucose tolerance and individual responses are responsible for blood sugar levels, rather than the GI of the foods themselves.

A food’s GI therefore cannot be a direct predictor of a person’s glycemic response.

Differences in glycemic response between individuals make it difficult to determine which carbohydrates are really the healthiest, as even whole grains may not be a consistent and reliable measure of GI and GL.

Despite the popularity of low-carb diets, they are not for everyone, and some populations still benefit from a high-carb diet.

For example, exercise endurance performance is compromised on a low-carb diet, and high carbohydrate intake remains the best-documented choice for elite athletes.

In members of the general population with high carbohydrate intake, there is a significant decrease in blood sugar levels – which may promote remission from prediabetes – when daily carbohydrate intake is reduced.

Therefore, experts recommend that populations who consume 65–75% of their daily calories from carbohydrates should reduce their carbohydrate calories to 50–55% of their daily intake and increase their protein intake.

A carbohydrate limit of 45% or less of daily calories is more effective for short-term blood sugar control, but may not be sustainable and will not provide better long-term results than a range of 50-55% of daily calories from carbohydrates.

Before making any changes to their diet, people should speak to a doctor or registered nutritionist to determine their specific carbohydrate needs in order to optimize their health outcomes.

Carbohydrates are an essential macronutrient that provides the body with energy and fiber to support good health.

Excessive consumption of carbohydrates is linked to weight gain and an increased risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

However, despite their bad reputation, carbohydrates offer many health benefits when a person consumes frequent sources of complex carbohydrates and fiber in favor of refined carbohydrates and sugar-sweetened beverages.

The ideal diet also varies from person to person. For example, a high-carbohydrate diet optimizes athletic performance.

Non-athletes who consume 65-75% of their daily calories from carbohydrates, however, see the greatest drop in blood sugar levels when they reduce their caloric intake from carbohydrates to 50-55% of their daily energy intake.

Carbohydrates aren’t bad when people control the amount and type of food they consume and tailor them to their specific needs.

Whole Grain Benefits

Can It Help You Lose Weight? – Cleveland Clinic

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What do you think of when you think of Chia? Maybe it’s pudding, or maybe it’s quirky houseplants. For some TikTokkers, it’s breakfast. They started putting these tiny seeds in water and drinking them to satisfy their hunger – or so they say.

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Is there any truth to this trick? Registered nutritionist Beth Czerwony, MS, RD, CSOWM, LD explains the science behind the seeds, including whether to try or toss this trend.

The benefits of chia seed water

Chia seeds are incredibly healthy, a source of fiber, protein, and various nutrients. They’re also whole grains, low-carb, and low-calorie, with only about 100 calories per ounce.

They come from Salvia hispanica, a purple-flowered plant of the mint family that grows in Mexico and Guatemala. And although the seeds themselves are tiny – much like poppy seeds – they are quite high in nutritional value. You are loaded with:

  • Antioxidants: These substances protect you from free radicals that contribute to cancer and various diseases and can affect the aging of your body.
  • Fiber: Chia seeds contain 11 grams of fiber, which is vital to gut health and will help you feel full longer. (More on that in a moment!)
  • Protein: Protein is sometimes referred to as the “building blocks” of your body and is vital to the health of your muscles, skin, bones, and more. It is also the key to losing weight and building muscle, along with other health benefits.

And that’s not all. “Chia seeds are considered a superfood,” says Czerwony. “They have some nice vitamins and minerals like phosphorus, magnesium, iron and zinc – although honestly not that many people have these deficiencies.”

Can Chia Water Really Help You Lose Weight?

Chia seed water is exactly what it sounds like: a spoonful of chia seeds falls into a glass of water. But why?

Chia seeds can take up 12 times their own weight. When they get wet, they swell and take on a gelatinous texture – which is a polite way of saying they get pretty slimy. Think tapioca, but less flavorful.

The idea behind drinking chia seed water is that the wet seeds will enlarge and take up space in your stomach so you won’t get hungry. This, in turn, can make you feel less hungry and ultimately help you lose weight.

So does it work? In a word, yes. Kind of.

“The chia seeds mix with the water and your gastric juices and they expand in the stomach,” confirms Czerwony. “It keeps you full longer because it takes up space and all of that soluble fiber slows digestion.”

When your digestion slows, your body releases blood sugar more slowly, preventing the peaks and troughs in blood sugar that cause increased appetite (also known as “hangry”).

The risks of chia seed water

But Czerwony warns against going overboard with the chia seed water. While it’s okay to do something every now and then to stave off the late craving for snacks, it shouldn’t be viewed as a key method of weight loss.

For starters, eating chia seeds isn’t an alternative to a healthy diet – just a handy trick that can be used occasionally. And if you swallow a lot of fiber, make sure you swallow plenty of water too, or you could end up with quite uncomfortable digestive problems, including constipation, gas, and gas.

“Too much of a good thing is too much,” says Czerwony. “If you eat a lot of fiber and don’t drink enough fluids, the chia seeds begin to absorb the fluid in your intestines and cause hard bowel movements.”

How to make chia seed water

Czerwony recommends adding a tablespoon or two of chia seeds to a glass with 2 to 10 ounces of water. If you’ve never consumed the seeds, you may want to start with a smaller amount to see how your body can handle them.

And while you might want to soak the seeds in water for a few minutes before consuming the concoction, don’t wait too long. “You have to drink it pretty quickly to get it down before it sets,” advises Czerwony.

The texture of chia seed water can be a little off-putting to say the least, so flavor yours with lemon, lime, or whatever else makes it tastier.

Alternatives to chia seed water

Not excited about swallowing gelatinous goop? Chia seed water isn’t the only way to get some fiber without overdoing calories.

“Chia seed water is all the rage right now, but it doesn’t do anything to your body that you can’t get from other sources of fiber,” says Czerwony. They get the same effects from a large salad or bowl of healthy oatmeal that will keep you full longer than foods that are low in fiber.

However, if chia is sold for sale, you can still enjoy the benefits of chia seeds without drinking them in water. Here are just a few other forms that you can enjoy them in.

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Whole Grain Benefits

The 7 Best Brain-Friendly Breakfast Foods

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ANDYou already know you should be eating breakfast every day – and that doesn’t mean ordering an oat milk latte and calling it good. Listen to us: When you feed your body the right nutrition every morning, it’s not just about filling up your energy tank. Eating a quality, nutritious breakfast will actually help you perform better at work (and play) and improve your overall brain health, according to research. “Emphasizing the words ‘high quality’ and ‘nutrient-rich’ is key,” said Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, FAND, author of the Family Immunity Cookbook.

For example, a study published in the journal Nutrients in April 2021 found that teenagers who ate a nutritious breakfast had better cognitive performance in school than those who didn’t. A small 2016 study in Neuroscience & Medicine showed that certain areas of the brain experience significantly higher levels of activation when young adult participants eat a nutritionally balanced breakfast versus a sugar-filled breakfast. And a 2019 study published in the Journal of Psychophysiology concluded that skipping breakfast can negatively affect short-term cognition, particularly disrupting the attention process (i.e., the ability to pay attention).

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If that’s not convincing enough, get it from a registered dietitian: Amidor says eating breakfast daily should be “top priority”. (Not to mention the fact that having breakfast can also improve your mood and emotional well-being.)

While there’s no official time you should have breakfast, Amidor recommends eating within an hour of waking up, even if it’s small – like a fruit yogurt or a slice of whole grain toast with peanut butter. “You don’t need a complicated breakfast, but it should have multiple food groups of nutritious foods,” she adds.

Remember, however, that eating for optimal brain health and cognitive function is not just related to your morning meal. “It’s becoming more and more about the overall pattern of what you eat and drink in a day, in a week, and so on, versus each individual food item,” said Maggie Moon, MS, RD, author of The MIND Diet.

However, there are some breakfast foods that are better than others when it comes to targeted boosting cognitive function and overall brain health. Read on for top recommendations from two nutritionists for brain-friendly breakfast foods.

The 7 best brain-friendly breakfast foods according to the RDs

1. Salmon

Fancy some smoked salmon when you wake up? Ooh, you send. But you’re in luck – this fish provides tons of omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA and EPA, says Amidor. Salmon is an excellent breakfast choice, especially because DHA makes up a significant portion of the fat in your brain and is therefore critical to brain development, she adds. Research shows that DHA, either alone or in combination with EPA, contributes to improved memory function in older adults. Amidor recommends topping a slice of seedless rye bread with whipped cream cheese and an ounce of smoked salmon and sliced ​​vegetables, or integrating smoked salmon and vegetables into an omelette. You can also try smoked salmon on a mushroom bagel or Better Bagel, or add it to a salad for the best brunch at home.

2 eggs

Speaking of omelets … as it turns out, the humble egg is also one of the best brain-friendly foods out there. “Easy to cook but to make things more decadent, an egg contains both choline and lutein, two vital nutrients that help the brain develop in our early years and then protect it from cognitive decline in mid-life “Says Moon, citing a 2018 report on the benefits of egg cells published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

Learn seven ways to eat eggs without scrambled eggs. Tired of dirtying a pan? Microwave pre-made egg bites like Appleton’s Market Power Veggie Bites for the next best option.

Eggs are so nutritious that this nutritionist actually calls them nature’s multivitamin:

3. Oatmeal

We get it – another dietitian who recommends oatmeal for breakfast comes as no big surprise. However, there’s a reason oats are so popular with nutritionists: as whole grains, they have been linked to improved cognitive functions like better reading comprehension and improved fluency in speech. Moon says she prefers steel cut oats, which are closer to the whole-food form of oats and have a comfortably chewy texture.

In a hurry in the morning? Try packaged, high-protein oatmeal (without all the added sugar) like mush or oats overnight.

4. Turmeric

Incorporating a pinch of this yellow spice into the first meal of your day can improve your brain health. It contains a chemical called curcumin that has been shown to have memory and cognitive benefits in both healthy adults and those with Alzheimer’s disease. Try this breakfast smoothie recipe from Amidor: puree the carrots, orange juice, cinnamon and natural Greek yogurt in a high-performance mixer and then sprinkle with turmeric. Or try oatmeal with a handful of turmeric-containing trail mixes like Toodaloo for crunch and brain benefits.

5. Berries

Who doesn’t love fresh berries for breakfast? A simple morning meal of plain Greek yogurt with fresh strawberries, blueberries, and chopped almonds is a brain-boosting start to the day, says Amidor. A review in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed that anthocyanins, the pigment in berries that give them their rich color, can help protect your brain cells from oxidation and help promote communication between brain neurons. (By the way, pomegranate is another fruit that is amazing for brain health.)

If you can’t get your hands on fresh ingredients, Sow Good Freeze Dried Fruits can be stocked up with the same diet and no additional ingredients. Freeze-dried fruits can also be a life-saving snack for travelers.

6. Coffee

Hallelujah! You’d better believe coffee makes the list (but be careful: drinking too much has the opposite effect). Research suggests that having a cup of joe (black) in the morning improves reaction time, improves alertness, and helps us think more clearly. According to Moon, this may be due to the combination of caffeine and antioxidants, as well as the coffee’s ability to improve the brain’s functional connectivity, which is how well different regions of the brain communicate with each other to get tasks done.

Skip the cafe and make yourself at home. Brands like Explorer Cold Brew Co. and Copper Cow Coffee make it more interesting and easier to be your own barista.

7. Water

OK, so this is absolutely not a food – but hydration with H20 is crucial when you wake up to start your day and your mind. “We call it ‘brain water’ in our home because it’s so important to brain health,” says Moon. Our brains are nearly 75 percent water, which means that even mild dehydration can affect cognitive performance and negatively affect your mood as well.

Really in a time constraint? In a pinch, grab a protein bar specially formulated with nutrients to promote brain health, like Mindright or Mosh.

Oh hello! You look like someone who loves free workouts, discounts on cutting-edge wellness brands, and exclusive Well + Good content. Register with Well +, our online community of wellness insiders, and activate your rewards immediately.

Our editors select these products independently. Well + Good can earn a commission when you shop through our links.

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Whole Grain Benefits

‘MIND’ diet may protect against cognitive decline

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Share on PinterestIn people with Alzheimer’s disease, following the MIND diet can help slow cognitive decline. WP Simon / Getty Images

  • Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related diseases that cause cognitive decline have been linked to pathological changes in the brain, including an unusual build-up of protein deposits.
  • Although the extent of these brain pathologies has been linked to cognitive impairment, some individuals with brain pathologies maintain healthy cognitive function.
  • A recent study suggests that following the MIND diet, a diet used to improve brain health, may slow cognitive decline in people with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • The study found that the association between following the MIND diet and better cognitive health was independent of the pathological conditions of the brain.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. Approximately 1 in 9 adults over the age of 65 in the United States currently has this condition.

Alzheimer’s disease is linked to the unusual buildup of protein deposits called beta-amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain.

These protein deposits are believed to be responsible for the damage to brain cells and, consequently, for the impairment of cognitive function observed in Alzheimer’s disease.

Interestingly, not everyone with high levels of these brain pathologies or markers for Alzheimer’s disease will experience cognitive decline. This ability to maintain normal cognitive function in the presence of brain disease is known as cognitive resilience.

In addition, older adults 65 and older who engage in physical activity and activities that provide mental stimulation are likely to have better cognitive performance regardless of their level of Alzheimer’s-related brain pathologies.

Although some recently investigated drugs for Alzheimer’s disease can reduce the levels of beta-amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain, the interventions investigated to date by scientists have shown limited success in slowing the decline in cognitive function.

This underscores the importance of identifying lifestyle factors that can slow the progression of cognitive decline regardless of changes in Alzheimer’s disease-related brain pathologies.

Some studies suggest that the Diet with Dieting Methods to Stop Hypertension (DASH) and the Mediterranean Diet can improve cognitive function. Based on these studies, the two diets were combined into a hybrid MIND diet specifically designed to improve brain health.

The MIND diet emphasizes the consumption of green leafy greens, other vegetables, berries, legumes, fish, nuts, and whole grains while restricting the consumption of butter, cheese, and red meat.

Previous studies have shown that the MIND diet can slow age-related cognitive decline and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Recently, researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago investigated the ability of the MIND diet to improve cognitive function in older adults regardless of the pathological level of the brain.

Summing up the research results, the first study author Dr. Klodian Dhana, Ph.D., told Medical News Today, “We found that a higher MIND diet score is associated with better cognitive function regardless of Alzheimer’s disease and other common age-related brain pathologies, suggesting that following the MIND diet can strengthen cognitive resilience in older adults. “

Understanding the mechanisms underlying the effects of diet and other lifestyle factors on cognitive function could help researchers develop new treatments to slow cognitive decline.

Given the presence of brain pathologies in a significant number of older adults and the lack of treatments that can slow cognitive decline, such treatments could be immensely useful.

The study results appear in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

The new study analyzed data collected by the Rush Memory and Aging Project (MAP) from 569 deceased people. The Rush MAP is a longitudinal study of adults over 65 years of age with the aim of identifying environmental and genetic factors associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

The Rush MAP conducts annual assessments to assess cognitive health, lifestyle, and risk factors associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The study also performs post-mortem analyzes of brains donated by participants to assess changes related to Alzheimer’s disease.

In the new study, researchers used a questionnaire to calculate the MIND diet score based on how often the study participants consumed foods that were considered healthy or unhealthy according to the MIND diet.

The researchers had access to data from comprehensive cognitive tests carried out shortly before the participants died. After a participant died, the team performed a post-mortem analysis to identify brain changes related to Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions known to lead to age-related cognitive decline.

About a third of the study participants had a clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease prior to their death. However, the researchers were able to identify Alzheimer’s disease in two-thirds of the participants based on the high levels of brain pathologies revealed in the post-mortem analyzes.

The researchers found a positive correlation between the MIND diet score and cognitive function before the participants died. In addition, the MIND diet score was associated with a slower decline in cognitive function with age.

Notably, the association between the MIND diet score and cognitive function was independent of the extent of Alzheimer’s disease-related brain pathologies.

Similarly, the level of brain pathologies associated with other disorders did not affect the association between the MIND diet score and cognitive function.

These results were based on participants’ self-reports of their eating habits during the annual assessments. To minimize the possibility of these reports being inaccurate due to cognitive impairment, the researchers re-analyzed the data after excluding people with mild cognitive impairment at the beginning of the data collection.

The relationship between the MIND diet and cognitive function persisted even after the analysis was restricted to people without mild cognitive impairment.

The researchers observed similar results when the analysis only included people with high levels of Alzheimer’s-related brain pathologies. This further suggests that the association between the MIND diet score and cognitive function was independent of the extent of Alzheimer’s disease-related brain pathologies.

Taken together, these results indicate that the potential effects of diet on cognitive function are unlikely to be mediated by modifying the extent of brain pathologies associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other brain disorders.

“The [strengths] of the studies [include] high quality assessment of nutrition and cognition and availability of neuropathological data, ”said Dr. Dhana.

Similarly, Dr. Nikolaos Scarmeas, Associate Professor of Clinical Neurology at Columbia University in New York City:

“This is a pretty important study as it hasn’t looked at the relationship between diet and brain neuropathology. Very few, if any, studies have information on both ends: dietary habits and cognition throughout life, and measurements of brain changes through autopsies. “

Dr. Scarmeas was not involved in the latest study.

The study authors also note that the investigation had some limitations. For example, they acknowledge that the nutritional information may be inaccurate because it was self-reported. To address the potential inaccuracies in the nutrition reports, the researchers averaged the MIND diet score from reviews over several years.

“The caveat is the generalizability of the results as this study was conducted on older white volunteers,” added Dr. Dhana added.

Regarding future research directions, Dr. Dhana: “I think it is of great scientific interest to identify other changeable lifestyle factors that are independent of [Alzheimer’s disease] Pathology and other common brain pathologies. “

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