It has become very popular for people to avoid all carbohydrates to improve their health. There are many different reasons for doing this that are given by low carb gurus.
Eating carbs has been blamed by the health gurus for diabetes, insidious weight gain, brain fog and even serious diseases. Carbs are usually lumped all together from whole grains to refined grains, natural sugars, refined sugars and fruits.
The problem is that there is very little evidence for the claims of the low carb advocates. After the initial honeymoon phase of low carb eating, often related to the idea of eating like a caveman, the same and even more serious health issues arise.
Substantial and undeniable improvements, particularly in the first 6-12 months of eating a diet based more on meat and vegetables and less on grains and sugars, can occur. Many of the benefits are often from switching from a junk food-based diet that is low in nutrients and high in industrial chemicals, oxidized fats, and other nasty elements to a very nutritious whole foods diet. It is not usually just from eliminating carbs.
Low carb diets tend to increase adrenal activity - increased glucocorticoid production as well as catecholamines – like epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine. These are the same chemicals released when taking amphetamines/stimulants or during stress.
Adrenal activity also occurs due to increased consumption of animal protein and fat and decreased consumption of carbohydrates – and because a whole foods diet spontaneously decreases calorie consumption (and absorption) for most people – putting their bodies into a catabolic state (high adrenal state). Even if animal proteins are not emphasized, the lack of carbohydrates puts people in this high stress mode.
There are hundreds of ways to increase your production of catecholamines. Catecholamines make you feel absolutely incredible. Doing methamphetamine, for example, raises catecholamines through the roof. They feel so good that you are likely to become so addicted to the feeling that you will ruin your life in pursuit of it.
Catecholamines blunt appetite while increasing fat mobilization (fat burning). The best supplement ever created to achieve this was Ephedra, an herbal amphetamine. Not only did it help people to lose weight without hunger and have legendary workouts, it made people feel superhuman – with great mental focus and energy.
Because of the addiction that develops to these brain chemicals, it becomes very difficult to resume eating food as this triggers withdrawal symptoms with a big crash in mood and accompanying sluggishness, brain fog, and other negatives to accompany the digestive pains, bloating and reactive hypoglycemia. This is the primary reason why eating disorders are self-perpetuating.
Many people on low carb diets start to turn to other ways to stimulate adrenal activity and catecholamine production after the honeymoon of feeling good is over. For most people on these diets, as with much restrictive diets such as vegan and raw foods diets, the time that people feel good only lasts from 6- 12 months. The time one feels good depends on the state of your adrenal glands. If the adrenals are in a weakened state, the honeymoon may not last long at all.
Intermittent fasting, or a fancy way of saying skipping meals, vigorous exercise, and increased caffeine consumption are some of the ways that people try to keep the adrenals burning to make them continue to feel good.
The many ways that a person eventually starts to feel poorly on low carb diets occur to a large extent because carbohydrates in the form of starches, grains, vegetables and sugars - such as natural sweeteners and fruit, stop catecholamine and cortisol release. When the body doesn’t have these natural antidotes to stress, many symptoms of ill health arise. Carbohydrates are one of the antidotes to stress.
Human bodies run on sugar. The brain function will get affected if you don’t eat enough natural sugars and starches. The brain needs large amounts of sugars. If you exercise or are just active in the day, you need muscle glycogen from carbohydrates to perform at a high intensity as fatty acids are not sufficient to sustain intense activity.
Many people at this point of reading the article will think, but I eat carbohydrates, I eat vegetables. Starchy vegetables such as carrots and squashes have very small amounts of carbohydrates. These vegetables contain good quality carbs, but the amount is not concentrated enough for a human body’s requirements.
People on low carb diets will try to increase fat to get more energy. Running on fats is a disease state, not a normal state of health.
The healthiest traditional cultures known for their longevity such as the Sardinians, Quichua Peruvians, Okinawans, Nicoyans and Ikarians ate starches as their main sources of carbohydrates along with the regular use of natural sugars.
Stress signs that occur on low carb diets are not limited to these diets alone, but they do occur for many: cold hands and feet, sexual disorders, reduced sex drive, loss of menstruation, infertility, frequent urination, night sweats, irritability, anxiety, waking at 4 am, lightheadedness, constipation, delayed stomach emptying, acid reflux, high LDL cholesterol, low testosterone, puffy eyes, auto immune disease, increases in allergies and sensitivities, chest pain, low blood sugar, bad breath and body odor. These are all stress signs that can occur on diets missing nutrients or that are too low in calories.
Whole food diets are notoriously low in calories. The stress response of eating animal proteins and vegetables with no or extremely little carbs cuts the appetite, a typical high stress response.
As with other things that stress the body, severe muscle tension occurs. This is made worse by over exercising in an attempt to stimulate those feel good catecholamines.
If you have been restricting your carbohydrates, add in whole and naturally refined grains, fruit, fruit juice and natural sweeteners slowly. With any diet that has been restricted, there will initially be a reaction to adding foods that have been previously eliminated. Be careful not to take reactions as a sign that you need to keep restricting carbohydrates or any healthy food groups.
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