The main concerns that trouble most of us are, diabetes, hypertension and obesity or excess weight. The blame of the evil comes on the 3 white witches of food: sugar, salt and rice.
Everything that is tasty has either sugar, salt or rice…So what happens to those tea parties or coffee meetings if we become sugarless and saltless? How do we enjoy our Indian festivities without the biryani and rice kheer up north and the Pongal n Paayasam in the south? Wouldn’t it be perfect be to wave the magic wand at these 3 white witches and make them disappear from your diet and get the bliss you are looking for. However extremity is never the solution. The fact remains that though these are the contributing factors to the above problems, these are equally necessary for the proper functioning of our bodies.
I think I have managed to raise quite a few eyebrows here. But before you run to the nearest mithaiwala to get those mouthwatering gulab-jamuns, or to devour the death by chocolate at a confectionary, let me stop you. It is important to understand what kind of sugars are considered good and which ones are to be marked of your list.
Sugars are basically carbs and are the major source of energy. Carbohydrates are made up of sugar molecules with different structural chains either simple or complex, which are decisive on their absorption into the blood stream. In other words, refined sugar, honey, jaggary, sucrose, glucose are the simple sugars; monosaccharides or disaccharides, that means with a single or two sugar molecules bound by a shorter chain. Packaged foods with fat free or low cholesterol labels often have camouflaged names such as fructose corn syrup, maltose, dextrose, raw sugar, canesugar, malt extract and molasses but these also are short chained carb molecules which are absorbed quickly, causing a sugar rush. Meanwhile, sugars found in foods such as nuts, legumes, wholefruits, sweetpotatoes, oats, etc. are polysaccharides, having a longer chain of sugar molecules which have a slow and steady absorption into the blood. This can be an excellent source of energy. However, these are beneficial as compared to the simple sugars as these are converted to glycogen to be used as energy reserve for the body, the fiber is used for optimal digestion and the body also absorbs other vitamins and minerals making them a better option. They are required for the proper functioning of your body on an everyday basis.
Both are sugars but all of these add up to the amount of sugar consumed by us on an everyday basis. It is the constant spike in the levels of sugar in your blood that eventually cause diabetes to set in. So choose your sugars.
Salt enhances the taste of everything, undoubtedly. Practically all snacks have a generous amount of salt in them. All the sauces have a high level of sodium content too. However notice a difference when we eat food that is freshly made and hot verses food that is packaged, packed or meant for storage. We will not need the excess salt in the former. It is an enhancer, a retainer, a modifier. Unlike sugar, it can never be consumed on its own and yet without it nothing will taste perfect. The phrase, “pinch of salt” has been rightly coined, cause that’s all we really need. Everything else is excess. Salt has one of the most important minerals. Sodium, which aids in nerve transmission, controls muscle dysfunction, retains water and electrolytes. In iodized salts which is what we normal pick off the shelf there is Iodine, which is vital for correct thyroid functioning. Both these are very important for regular functioning of our bodies.
Rice gives a feeling of immediate satiation and has be directly linked with obesity. However rice unlike its counterpart wheat is gluten free. The consumption of which is not going to create allergies or gastric problems. Rice is relatively easily digestible. Taken in correct quantities it can never be the cause of obesity or clogged arteries. The main benefit of rice is the instant carbohydrates that it provides. It is instant fuel for your body. It doesn’t disturb the gut bacteria and soothes the gut flora incase of any intestinal issues. It is also a mood enhancer since it allows greater absorption of amino acids into the brain which in turn gives us the feel-good hormone serotonin. If we eat enough fiber and protein with rice, it is the most wholesome meal that one could have. Rice is also good for weight watchers as a small amount can make one feel fuller faster as rice tends to expand in the stomach absorbing water whereas wheat (chapatti/bread) takes a longer time to digest and hence the signal of satiation can reach the brain much later.
Hence, before we start the witch hunt lets pause to think and actually eliminate the real causes of diabetes, hypertension and obesity which are…….overeating, stress and complacency or lack of exercise. If we endeavor to live an active life, eat our meals in limited quantities and the right time we can enjoy all our festive sweets and savoury. Happy eating.
Read The Times of India article – click here