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Food Bites with Dr. Hyman – Carbohydrates

Food Bites with Dr. Hyman – Carbohydrates

Ellie O. asks: “Are there any exceptions when carbohydrates would be acceptable on The 10-Day Detox Diet?”

Dear Ellie:

You may not know this, but the body could survive without carbohydrates.

Our bodies require essential amino acids to build proteins and essentially fatty acids to function properly – yet there is no such thing as an “essential” carbohydrate.

At the same time, nobody would contest the nutritional value of plant-based carbohydrates.  However, if you never ate another carbohydrate again in your life, you would survive!

The goal of The 10-Day Detox Diet is not to omit all carbohydrates, but rather to flood your cells with the low-glycemic kind using smart carbohydrates (not low carbohydrates).

Smart carbohydrates are nutrient-rich, and overflowing with phytochemicals, minerals, vitamins, and fiber.  Low-carbohydrate diets use cheap ingredients, often artificially synthesized in a lab to remove the starch from the food and replace it with fake sweeteners and other junk, which carry a hefty price tag of unwanted side effects and pose a great risk to your health.

You don’t need that. What you do need is to learn how to create a meal plan that increases your insulin sensitivity, keeps inflammation low, and creates an environment where health and wellness flourish!

Skip empty calorie carbs such as pasta, white rice, pastries, crackers etc..  Instead, opt for the ultra-nutrient dense kind.  Choose vitamin- and fiber-rich, lower-glycemic options such as sweet potatoes, winter squash, beets, pumpkin, and for those who tolerate them, long-grain rice, gluten-free grains, and legumes.

While this smart-carbohydrate diet will work for the majority of people, some may not be the ideal candidate for it.  There are several groups of people that may need a slightly higher intake of carbohydrates due to a particular health status.

If you have started The 10-Day Detox Diet and don’t feel right by day 10, consider the following:

  • Are you pregnant or nursing? If so, your body may require more carbohydrates and fuel.  While recent studies validate lower-carbohydrate and even ketogenic diets (extremely low-carb diets) as being safe for gestation, consider adding 1 serving of smart-carbohydrate choices to each meal – especially lunch and dinner.  This should help if you don’t feel well or you don’t like the options offered on this diet and you are more inclined to eat more carbs than recommended.
  • Are you under the supervision of a local physician for a grave medical condition that your doctor prescribed a certain meal plan for? If so, always refer back to your physician before starting a new diet plan or modifying a program your doctor or Registered Dietitian has prescribed for you.
  • Are you a super-athlete who is currently training and requires more fuel from carbohydrates? If so, you may want to save the dietary component of my 10-Day Detox Diet until your training is over.  However, cleaning up your diet could definitely help improve your athletic outcome.  I recommend following the Basic Plan diet guidelines in my book The Blood Sugar Solution.
  • Are you having trouble sleeping, and feeling utterly worn out, like you have no fuel left in your tank to function? If so, you may be suffering from HPA-axis dysfunction, formerly known as adrenal fatigue, resulting in high or low levels of circulating cortisol.

Those suffering from adrenal burn out might benefit from a small serving of a starchy carbohydrate combined with protein at dinner. The protein in your meal provides an amino acid called tryptophan, which induces sleepiness.  The carbohydrates cause your pancreas to release insulin, which makes the tryptophan more available to the brain.  This triggers your brain, to produce more serotonin and melatonin – both of which create that sleepy, calm feeling that enables you to fall asleep, sleep soundly, and wake up feeling refreshed.

But remember, the best recipe for good sleep, energy, and successful recovery from adrenal overdrive is the proper portion size, combining carbs with protein, and timing.  If you overdo it with too many carbs, then you risk releasing too much insulin, which leads to rapid changes in blood sugar, and invoking stress hormones, thus increasing the odds of poor sleep and lack of energy.

Always aim to eat your carbohydrates three to four hours before bed.  Studies show that eating right before bed keeps you awake, but if you need a little bedtime snack, have some almonds (rich in calcium and magnesium – both of which help to calm your nervous system).

To find out if a detox like mine is right for you, please take this quiz.  If you need help fine-tuning your meal plan to work for your specific needs, I invite you to join my community-based 10-Day Detox Diet Challenge.  You will receive support from people just like you and professional care from me and my specially trained Registered Dietitians.

Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD.

Mark Hyman MD is the Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine, the Founder of The UltraWellness Center, and a ten-time #1 New York Times Bestselling author.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.