WHERE’S THE SCI­ENCE AT?

Healthy Food Guide (Australia) - - LIVEWELL -

One of the big­gest dilem­mas in nu­tri­tion sci­ence is col­lat­ing the lat­est ev­i­dence on carbs into one-size-fits-all na­tional di­etary guide­lines rec­om­mended by health pro­fes­sion­als.

Cur­rent di­etary guide­lines rec­om­mend around 50 per cent of our daily kilo­joule in­take comes from un­re­fined car­bo­hy­drates that are high in fi­bre and have a low-gly­caemic (GI) in­dex. These foods in­clude whole­grain breads, pasta and ce­re­als, legumes (chick­peas and lentils), fruit and starchy veg like potatoes. Most of us aren’t over­do­ing the amount of carbs we eat, but we could do bet­ter on qual­ity.

How­ever, with the in­creas­ing lev­els of in­ac­tiv­ity, obe­sity and type 2 di­a­betes in de­vel­oped coun­tries, there’s grow­ing ev­i­dence to sug­gest that re­duc­ing the amount of car­bo­hy­drates in our diet — in tan­dem with in­creas­ing the pro­por­tion of pro­tein and healthy un­sat­u­rated fats — may be ben­e­fi­cial.

Low-carb di­ets & weight loss

Some re­search sug­gests that, in the short-term, lower-carb di­ets ap­pear to be a safe and ef­fec­tive op­tion for weight loss. In fact, some peo­ple find they lose weight more eas­ily when they reduce their over­all in­take of car­bo­hy­drates.

How­ever, when com­pared with other weight-loss ap­proaches over longer time pe­ri­ods, low-carb di­ets do not ap­pear to be su­pe­rior.

Given that over 30 per cent of the av­er­age Aussie�s daily kilo­joule in­take comes from dis­cre­tionary foods such as bis­cuits, fast food and chips, most of us could ben­e­fit from cut­ting back on these types of re­fined, pro­cessed carbs.

Low-carb di­ets & fi­bre

Go­ing low-carb can make it dif­fi­cult to meet your fi­bre re­quire­ments, which is why you should never cut out carbs com­pletely. Fi­bre — sourced pri­mar­ily from fruit, veg, grain foods, nuts and seeds — is an es­sen­tial part of a bal­anced diet. Re­search shows a high-fi­bre diet can help with weight loss, and fi­bre it­self is es­sen­tial to pro­mote good gut health.

Ev­i­dence sug­gests that fi­bre from whole grain foods is more ef­fec­tive in pre­vent­ing weight gain when com­pared to fi­bre from fruit and vegies. So swap­ping white, re­fined carb-rich foods for whole­grain foods is a smart way to en­sure you’re not miss­ing out on fi­bre.

Low-carb di­ets & type 2 di­a­betes

Over 20 years of re­search by the CSIRO and other lead­ing sci­en­tific bod­ies into the most ef­fec­tive way to man­age type 2 di­a­betes found a lower-carb diet re­sults in bet­ter blood glu­cose man­age­ment, com­pared to a tra­di­tional higher-carb diet.

The CSIRO found that the low-carb diet group ex­pe­ri­enced greater re­duc­tions in their blood glu­cose lev­els, blood triglyc­eride lev­els, and ‘good’ HDL-choles­terol lev­els. The low-carb group also ex­pe­ri­enced greater re­duc­tions in their need for di­a­betes med­i­ca­tion.

As a re­sult, the world’s lead­ing health au­thor­i­ties now recog­nise and sup­port the role of low-carb di­ets as part of an in­di­vid­u­alised ap­proach in the man­age­ment of type 2 di­a­betes.

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