From the Atkins diet to the recent popularity of Keto, we are brainwashed into thinking that eating carbs means instant weight gain. While overloading on bread and pasta isn’t a good idea; eliminating carbohydrates from your diet entirely is an equally unhealthy approach.
Our bodies need carbs to function correctly. They’re our primary source of energy, after all. They also help maintain healthy blood glucose and hormone levels. Complex carbohydrates, in particular, are incredibly beneficial, especially for vulva-havers.
Unfortunately, some people are also notorious for trying fad diets to lose weight fast. While cutting carbs might lead to short-term weight loss, you could be doing more long-term damage than you realize.
Here we’ll explore the dangers of low-carb diets, the critical role complex carbs play in human health, and some of the best sources for these beneficial nutrients.
Low Carb Diets
So, what is a low carb diet?
With countless diets promising fast results, it’s challenging to know which one to choose. Low carb diets recommend that you cut your carb intake and up the number of proteins, and healthy fats you consume. That means swapping that bowl of pasta for a salad topped with grilled chicken and oil and vinegar.
Are you still wondering why low carb diets are bad for you? Your body burns them for energy and when it doesn’t, it stores leftover carbs as fat. Eating fewer carbs means less chance that your body will hang onto them. Sounds pretty good, right?
Unfortunately, the adverse effects of cutting carbs far outweigh the positives.
Without enough complex carbs in your system, you’ll experience some pretty unpleasant side effects including:
- Muscle cramps
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Bad breath
But it’s not just physical side effects you have to face. A diet low in complex carbs can also affect your hormones, which, in turn, affects your mood. But how does a low carb diet affect hormones?
Low carb consumption suppresses your body’s production of essential hormones, including leptin. This hormone is responsible for regulating reproductive hormones. Without enough, you may experience mood swings and irritability.
That’s not to say that low carb diets don’t offer some positive side-effects. Some doctors even recommend reducing the number of carbs in your diet to lower blood sugar levels, boost good cholesterol, and lose weight.
Sadly, the dangers of low carb diets are real and sometimes extreme. Here are some of the long-term risks you might face:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Higher risk of cancer
- Kidney damage
- Lipid abnormalities
Before you cut complex carbs from your diet, consider the long-term effects you may face.
Complex Carbohydrates for Reproduction, Hormone, and Period Health
Many people don’t realize the vital role complex carbs play in the female reproductive system. From promoting a healthy menstrual cycle to fertility, your body needs these carbs to function correctly.
Even if you’re not following a low carb diet, you may be lacking these essential nutrients. So, what are complex carbohydrates, and how can you guarantee you’re getting enough?
When you hear the word “carbs”, what comes to mind? Pizza, french fries, pasta? While these are all carbohydrates, they’re not complex carbs — and they’re certainly not the good carbs you want in your diet.
Beans, whole grains, and vegetables are just a few examples of complex carbs that you may or may not be eating enough of. So, what differentiates these carbs (aside from their fat content)?
Complex carbs boost higher levels of fiber. It also takes your body longer to digest them.
For ovary-havers, it’s essential to know how carbs affect fertility? Without the right balance of nutrients in your diet, you may be unknowingly reducing your ability to get pregnant.
Carbohydrates play an essential role in balancing both blood sugar and insulin levels. When these levels are too high, it negatively affects reproductive hormone levels. It can also interrupt healthy ovulation, and therefore affect fertility and your menstrual cycle.
It’s important to note that it’s not so much about how many carbohydrates you eat, but, which ones. Disregard the all or nothing approach and focus more on eating complex carbohydrates (also known as slow carbs) over simple ones (or fast carbs).
Your hormones need carbs to work efficiently, which is why you should avoid drastically and abruptly cutting them from your diet. Aside from eating plenty of complex carbs to regulate your hormone levels, you can also include other foods that support healthy menstrual flow and ovulation. These include:
- Omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, tuna, chia seeds)
- Iron (tofu, oysters, dark chocolate, spinach)
- Fruits and vegetables
In addition to adding plenty of these healthy foods into your diet, you should also limit those high in sodium and sugar which lead to bloating and water retention.
Benefits and Sources of Complex Carbohydrates
Now that you understand the critical role that complex carbohydrates play in your overall health, let’s discuss the best diet for hormonal imbalance.
Usually, your endocrine system produces the right amount of hormones to keep your body balanced and functioning correctly. Unfortunately, some things can negatively affect this natural process, including stress, aging, and poor food choices.
Once you identify the best sources of complex carbohydrates, you can create a delicious and beneficial diet that supports your body’s natural functions. These foods include:
- Beans (pinto, lentil, kidney)
- Squash (butternut, winter)
Balanced hormones equal a happy, healthy body and mind. Not only will you experience increased energy and a better mood, but you’re also promoting healthy ovulation, fertility, and period health.
It’s time to ditch the mindset that all carbs are bad carbs. It’s all about knowing which carbohydrates to eat and how they support your body’s natural systems.
The benefits of complex carbohydrates don’t get nearly enough attention or recognition. A diet rich in these carbs can help balance both your hormones and glucose levels, promoting overall health and wellbeing.
Avoid diets that drastically restrict carbs and leave you feeling fatigued and moody. Instead, adopt a diet rich in proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbs. You’ll experience not only increased energy but a more robust, more efficient reproductive system.