“Macros” is what all the cool kids call macronutrients. Macronutrients refer to the three basic components of every diet — carbohydrates, fat, and protein — with a bonus fourth, water. These are called macronutrients because they are the largest portion of any food and “macro” means “large”. Most foods have some combination of all the macronutrients, but they come in varying proportions. Over the past couple weeks we’ve discussed protein and fat. In this edition, we’re talkin’ carbohydrates.
The health value of carbohydrates’ roles is vast: without carbohydrates, energy metabolism would suffer, our ability to read our own genetic information or to pass it on to our offspring would fail, and immunity and digestion would struggle or fail. We need carbohydrates in our daily diets, the trick is to know which sources of carbohydrates are beneficial.
The reason there are so many diets that limit the intake of carbs, is that the modern Western diet includes not only more than any one human could possibly make use of in a single day, but also because the sources of the carbohydrates are foods that are otherwise devoid of nutrients. The carbs diets like Paleo, Keto, and Whole 30 aim to help people eliminate are those that come from refined sugars and grains. All those bagels, doughnuts, sandwiches on slices of big, fluffy bread, pizza, and even many “healthy” protein bars are just loaded with refined grains. And the sugars are out of control! You’ll find various types of refined sugars in all kinds of foods like yogurts, juices, smoothies, and dressings and condiments. When we say the body needs carbs, let us be clear, we are never referring to these sources of carbs and we’re fully on board with your opting to remove them from your diet most or even all the time.
So what sources of carbohydrates are we saying you need? Glad you asked. Your body is just begging for insoluble fiber which is a type of carbohydrate that feeds your life-giving and sustaining microbiome. You’ll find those in all kinds of vegetables! We’re talking leafy greens, cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, and other yummy foods provided directly from the Earth like artichokes, carrots, avocados, beets, and sweet potatoes. You’ll also get some quality, nourishing carbohydrates from fresh fruits like apples, pears, berries, bananas, mangoes, and oranges. And it’s not just vegetables and fruits – nuts and seeds pack in some delightful microbiome food, too. If you read the editions on protein and fat already, you probably recognize these foods from those lists of good sources of those macros, too. Are you sensing a theme now? The foods that grow (rather than those that are made), and the meats from animals that were raised on the foods that grow from healthy soil, are the foods that nourish our bodies. So, chow down on those wonderful macros, and bon appetite!