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Hello! Dr. Alvi here,

Are carbohydrates unhealthy?

This is one of the most common questions my patients ask me. In order to answer this question, lets start by taking a look at what carbohydrates actually are.

Carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients our bodies need. The other two are fat and protein. Each macronutrient serves its own specific function and all three are a vital source of nutrition. It is important to remember that many Whole Foods have some combination of these three macronutrients.

When evaluating the carbohydrate content of a food, its important to look at the TYPE of carbohydrate. Carbohydrates can be broken down into complex and simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are found in naturally occurring unprocessed or minimally processed foods such as health promoting whole grains and vegetables. Simple carbohydrates are found in both unhealthy processed or refined foods and health promoting fruits.

Grains can be broken down to whole grains and refined grains. We can use the schematic of a whole grain and refined grain above to understand the difference between the two types.

As you can see, a WHOLE grain (shown on the left) is full of fiber, nutrients, minerals, and phytochemicals while a REFINED grain is stripped away of some of the most nutritional components of the grain. The refined grain (shown on the right) is devoid of the beneficial bran and germ layers and left with the higher carbohydrate endosperm.

Studies have shown that those eating WHOLE grains have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes, and even premature death. Those eating refined carbohydrates may increase their risk of the same chronic diseases.

So in summary, not all carbohydrates are created equal. Eating a doughnut is NOT the same as eating Kale or Oatmeal. Complex carbohydrate and Whole grain options are Quinoa, Brown rice, Oats, and Amaranth.


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Hello, Dr. Alvi here,

Let’s talk about fruit.  As an Endocrinologist, I often get asked about it:

  • Is it healthy?
  • Does it have a lot of sugar?
  • Can I eat any fruits, or stick to certain ones?

There is certainly a lot of misinformation out there, so it’s a topic that deserves the time to be discussed!

The answer to these common questions can be explained simply by looking at what fruit is providing nutritionally, alongside a deeper dive into the the evidence-based literature  supporting how healthful fruit can be. 

Fruits NATURALLY contain simple sugars such as fructose, glucose, and sucrose. Sugars commonly ADDED to a lot of foods are these exact simple sugars. Since these simple sugars are found in both foods, they are indeed the root of the confusion and misinformation. 

Let’s talk about what the whole fruit provides: HEALTH PROMOTING Water, Fiber, Nutrients, Minerals, Antioxidants, and Phytonutrients.  There are many studies to support the favorable outcomes of fruit on health. One large epidemiological study showed higher fruit consumption being associated with a lower risk of Diabetes.  

Let’s talk about what added sugar provides: Essentially it provides Empty Calories. Sugar sweetened beverages in particular have been linked to Type 2 diabetes. 

My take away is basically the same message when it comes to nutrition – to look at foods as a whole package and the benefits they can provide to optimize overall health. 

I love all fruit, but mangos are my top favorite fruit.  What are your favorite fruits?

References:

  1. Du et al. Fresh fruit consumption in relation to incident diabetes and diabetic vascular complications: A 7-y prospective study of 0.5 million Chinese adults. PLOS med. 2017
  2. palmer et al. Sugar sweetened beverages and incidence of type 2 DM. Archives of Internal Medicine 2008.

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April 18, 2019 Endocrinology News

Humans have over 50 different hormones. Hormones are the body’s chemical messengers and are part of the endocrine system. They regulate metabolism, respiration, growth, reproduction, sensory perception and movement. The endocrine system regulates our heart rate, metabolism – how the body gets energy from the foods we eat – appetite, mood, sexual function, reproduction, growth and development, sleep cycles, and more.

Hormone imbalances are the underlying reason for a wide range of medical conditions. Maintaining proper hormone balances is an ongoing process. We emphasize a combination of medicines that regulate your hormone levels alongside good nutrition and lifestyle habits.

Endocrinology focuses both on the hormones and the many glands and tissues that produce them. The human endocrine system consists of a number of glands, which release hormones to control many different functions. Endocrine glands make hormones, which travel through the bloodstream to tissues and organs, and control most of our body’s major systems. They can exist in very small amounts and still have a significant impact on bodily function and development. Some of the factors that affect endocrine organs include aging, certain diseases and conditions, stress, the environment and genetics.

There are three broad groups of endocrine disorders:

  • hyposecretion: when a gland does not produce enough of its hormones
  • hypersecretion: when a gland produces too much of its hormones
  • Tumors develop in the endocrine glands. They may be malignant, or cancerous, but they may also be benign, or non-cancerous.

[content sourced from hormone.org, the Hormone Health Network from the Endocrine Society]


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Saadia Alvi, MD believes in the power of both evidence-based conventional and lifestyle medical approaches to prevent, manage and treat endocrine conditions. After 13 years of practice, she opened her membership-based care practice to help her patients actively pursue better health.

Her practice is based on conventional evidence-based medicine. An Endocrinology Specialist, she is Board Certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in the specialties of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism.

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