I often hear from folks who tell me they are afraid to eat rice, potatoes, bread, pasta and corn. They have read somewhere that these foods have contributed to the many terrible symptoms they are experiencing.
These folks are partially correct; overeating starchy carbs leads to some serious trouble in the body.
But… let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water, just yet.
Let me explain.
Over the past decade or two, carbs have been demonized. Especially, by the Paleo, AIP and Ketogenic communities.
It’s eerily similar to the way that fat and specifically butter was demonized in the 1960’s. We know today, many decades and many trans fat obesity-causing-fat-substitutes later, that we need good fat for our body to function optimally. And, thankfully saturated fat and butter have rebounded back into the “good-fat” category.
Now, carbo-phobia has swept the nation.
But, little by little the Paleo peeps and hardcore no-carb advocates are swinging back around to let us know that, surprise surprise… carbs aren’t that bad for us after all. And, they can actually improve our mood and boost levels of serotonin.
In a recent article, Chris Masterjohn, PhD elaborates on the scientific details about how being on a low carb diet for too long or too often tanks your serotonin contributing to low energy and depression. But, eating carbs like rice and potatoes helps tryptophan enter the brain, promoting serotonin production that boosts mood: Carbs for Serotonin and Stress Release
I’m personally NOT a big fan of all the scientific blagety blah blah blah. For me, I refer back to the two-thousand year old wisdom of ancient medicine.
Here’s what I mean…
Starchy carbs like rice, potatoes, corn, bread, and pasta all turn to sugar in the body. The process begins in the mouth as our carbohydrate digesting enzyme, amylase, is released to break down those starchy carbs into their most simple sugary form.
Keep in mind that that the flavor profile of sugar, in any form, is sweet.
According to ancient knowledge from the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine (The Nei Ching), a variety of flavors help us achieve balance, but too much of any one flavor damages and weakens the body.
Each of the flavors has an energetic effect on our cells and our viscera.
The sweet flavor:
- Controls the flesh
- Controls the ideas
- Has a retarding effect
- Excessive sweet causes aches in the bones
We need the “sweet” flavor for energy, but too much sweet contributes to what is called a damp condition in the body.
Below are some symptoms of dampness:
- Excess phlegm
- Bloating and digestive distress
- Obesity, overweight
- Pain in the bones
- Rheumatic conditions
- Asthma and breathing problems
- Edema and other swellings
- Chronic exhaustion
- Excessive worry, pensiveness
- Fogginess and cloudiness in the mind
Do any of these symptoms sound familiar?
New clients often tell me… “when I eat a piece of bread, I get foggy in my brain and I can’t think straight” or “when I eat carbs I feel bloated and swollen.”
Those are symptoms of a damp condition that has been created by abusing the sweet flavor (and/or starchy carbs) at some point in their life.
So, instead of eliminating carbs (sweet flavor) entirely, as in some of the highly restrictive dieting protocols, the question is how can you heal an overly damp condition created by that excess sweet?
Here are some simple suggestions:
- Be conscious to NOT excessively eat the sweet flavor in any form (food, drink, candy, chocolate, carbs, etc.)
- Spleen/stomach/pancreas is nourished by the sweet flavor, so don’t eliminate it entirely
- The bitter flavor can help to clear and cool excess heat created by a damp condition
- The pungent/spicy flavor disperses excess phlegm created by dampness
- Running and cardiovascular activity helps dry a damp condition (as well as deep belly breathing)
- Weight training strengthens the muscles which are developed/controlled by the spleen/stomach/pancreas
Basically, we need to balance the flavors, dry the excessively damp condition, vary our exercise routine, and get back to eating normally and naturally without restricting foods that have been eaten for centuries.
Boom! Dropped the mic…
For those of you interested in learning how to use food and flavor to nourish and heal the body, download my FREE Food as Medicine Guide.
It’ll get you started on a happier, healthier and more delicious path to wellness… without having to go on a highly restrictive, joyless diet.
Andrea Beaman is an internationally renowned Holistic Health Coach, Natural Foods Chef, Speaker and Herbalist. Named one of the top 100 Most Influential Health and Fitness Experts, she is also a recipient of the Natural Gourmet Institute’s Award for Excellence in Health-Supportive Education and a Health Leadership award from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Since 1999, Andrea has been teaching people how to harness the body’s own preventative and healing powers using food, herbal remedies and alternative medicine.