Carb Choices for a Healthier Life of Obesity

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While the terms “healthier life” and “obesity” paired together appear to be at odds with each other, research shows that in spite of their obesity, overweight and obese people can achieve some benefits of a healthier life just by making good carb choices. In this article we will learn how that deciding whether to choose calorie-equivalent fast carbs or slow carbs can make a difference in protecting yourself against cancer, diabetes and hardening of the arteries.

In a recent article published in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have discovered that when overweight and obese individuals eat a diet rich in slowly digested carbohydrates, that they show a marked reduction in inflammation markers associated with several diseases.

In the article, 80 healthy participants - of which half were normal weight and half were either overweight or obese - were placed into a study that consisted of two 28-day periods where in one period they were fed a high-glycemic load carb diet and in the other period were fed a low-glycemic load carb diet.

A high-glycemic load carb diet is one that consists of low-fiber, highly processed carbohydrates such as white flour, white sugar, canned syrup, sugary beverages and breakfast cereals. A high-glycemic load meal is digested quickly and causes blood-glucose levels to spike.

A low-glycemic load carb diet is one that consists of high-fiber, unprocessed carbohydrates such as whole grain breads; legumes such as kidney beans, soy beans, pinto beans and lentils; and fruits like apples, oranges and pears. A low-glycemic load meal is digested slowly and does not normally cause blood-glucose levels to spike.

Both diets were identical in carbohydrate content, calories and macronutrients.

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What the researchers found were two significant results: The first result was that after the overweight and obese participants finished their low-glycemic load diet period, they showed significantly reduced markers of inflammation.

According to a press release from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, lead author Marian Neuhouser, Ph.D., R.D., states that, “This finding is important and clinically useful since C-reactive protein is associated with an increased risk for many cancers as well as cardiovascular disease,” she says. “Lowering inflammatory factors is important for reducing a broad range of health risks—showing that a low-glycemic-load diet can improve health is important for the millions of Americans who are overweight or obese.”

The second result of the study was that the researchers also detected in the low-glycemic load participants approximately a 5 percent increase in levels of a protein hormone called adiponectin, which is associated with protecting against several cancers (including breast cancer), metabolic disorders such as type-2 diabetes, and hardening of the arteries.

“Because the two diets differed only by glycemic load, we can infer that the changes we observed in important biomarkers were due to diet alone,” says Ms. Neuhouser. “The bottom line is that when it comes to reducing markers of chronic-disease risk, not all carbohydrates are created equal. Quality matters. There are easy dietary changes people can make. Whenever possible, choose carbohydrates that are less likely to cause rapid spikes in blood glucose,” she advises.

For other food choices aligned with the recommendation to choose slow carbs over fast carbs, yet still be allowed to eat dessert, follow one well-known chef's personal food choice list.

Image source: Courtesy of Wikipedia

Reference: “A Low-Glycemic Load Diet Reduces Serum C-Reactive Protein and Modestly Increases Adiponectin in Overweight and Obese Adults”; J. Nutr. January 1, 2012; Marian L. Neuhouser, Yvonne Schwarz, Chiachi Wang, Kara Breymeyer, Gloria Coronado, Chin-Yun Wang, Karen Noar, Xiaoling Song, and Johanna W. Lampe

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Comments

The glycemic index while having some use, is irrelevant for most people. Soda and ice cream for instance have a lower index that whole wheat bread or potatos, atlhough its probably not as nutritious. Carrots have a high GI, but you'd have to eat a lot of it to spike your glucose. All carbs will raise your glucose and cause your body to make insulin. The key is that carbohydrates are bad for most folks, by bad I don't mean useless, I mean its useless for a sedentary lifestyle, carbs are designed for energy, athletes, out ancestors worked in agriculture back breaking labor, most folks in developed nations do not do back breaking labor, with the exception of blue collar workers, maybe fireman, policeman, sanitation,etc
Very valid points--thank you for your input!