Being a part of an orthodox family, who subsisted mainly on grains, rice and potatoes, if someone had asked me this question few years back, I would have thought it’s a nobrainer. Now I face the guillotine.
5 Metabolic Syndromes (South Indian city survey):
Now for some statistics – 32% of Americans suffer from Metabolic Syndrome. A recent survey 2017 in South Indian cities, primarily Hyderabad, Chennai and Bengaluru reveal some interesting statistics.
- 31.4% have abdominal obesity (visceral fat)
- 45.6% have hypertriglyceridemia (high level of triglycerides)
- 65.5% have low HDL (high density lipoprotein)
- 54.7% have Hypertension (high BP)
- 26.7% have high Fasting Plasma Glucose
When I checked myself against this list, I found that I scored high on 4 out of the 5 parameters. Thankfully Hypertension had avoided my attention. What could have been the prime reason for all these chronic ailments? I donned my Sherlock Holmes cap and started probing into the whereabouts of this stealthy prowler who had gone about disturbing my metabolism.
After a long search, I pinned down on the culprit; CARBOHYDRATES (carbs). I couldn’t believe it. This person, who had been my companion all my life turned out to be a traitor. Et tu Brute! I know that it will be a very disturbing story but please bear with me.
The Anatomy of the Criminal (just in my case)
Here is a quiz for you – a loaf of bread, a bowl of rice or a can of soda, which one has more carbohydrates? Answer: Calorie counter says – all of them have the same amount of carbs.
So what are these so called ‘Carbs’? It takes me back to my school days, where my biology teacher drew out the Food Pyramid with carbohydrates at the base. She pointed out that carbohydrate metabolism and structure was the essence of life energy in all animals. This thought penetrated my psyche and my life started revolving around rice, rotis, starch, grains, beans, sugar and soda of course.
In simple layman terms, carbohydrates are made up of Monosaccharide (Glucose, Fructose & Galactose) which the body sends into the blood stream ASAP, spiking our Glucose and Insulin levels.
Next in the list comes Disaccharides (Lactose, Maltose & Sucrose) who take a little bit more time to spike up. The last in the list are Oligosaccharides and Polysaccharides. These guys consist of indigestible Beta bonds and take hell of a time to enter the blood stream.
Moral of the story: the more the Saccharides, the better the guy (carbohydrates).
What makes villain out of these harmless souls? (Idli and its relatives turned sour)
We decided that we would live together and vowed never to go apart till the end of times, but Idli and its companions Dosa and Vada had skeletons in their cupboard. They never revealed to me that they had ‘lectins’ in them, which would cause a leaky gut. They are also supposed to be the prime cause of ‘inflammation’ (the slow burning of the body, which leads to faster aging of the arteries). This uncanny fact about them gave me sleepless nights. How could they? I had really trusted them.
Then came another shocking revelation, this bunch had phytic acid in them which would prevent me from absorbing whatever little nutrients that I was consuming.
Then came the unkindest cut of all, they had been the prime cause of my elevated insulin. This insulin was pushing all the fat into my interstitial cells (causing visceral fat) and a metabolic catastrophe.
The Gluten Story:
During my sojourn in North India, right from West Bengal to Delhi to Mumbai, it was chappatis all the way. I took pride in consuming these rotis as they had been the staple diet of pahalwans for centuries. A renowned cardiologist set me on the right track, after I read his horror book ‘The Wheat Belly’ by William Davis which Punjabis should avoid reading, as it would hit them worse than a tsunami.
Wheat (the triple whammy):
- Wheat causes inflammation; it messes up with the gut and separates the cells in the gut wall. Yucky to imagine all the food stuff leaking out of your gut. So gluten is not the only culprit, as mentioned by one of the respondents. It is not only celiac resistant (wheat resistant people who should avoid wheat) it is virtually everyone, unless you would love to see your whole gut and intestine full of leaks. My kind suggestion is take an abdominal test and figure out the facts. Just for your information, this other villain is called ‘Zonulin’.
- More trouble – Gluten (Gliadin) and Agglutinin pack a punch. When a foreign body enters your blood stream your immune system gets into action. Here is where the real danger is – your body mistakes Agglutinin as a foreign thing and starts to attack your own immune system which leads to inflammatory bowels (Crohn’s disease). Did you know that Gluten is the major trigger of Type 1 Diabetes?
- To top it all, there is a another important body which is at stake, the Brain. And Gluten could be connected to Alzheimer’s disease.
The list is endless, skin disease, eczema, psoriasis, diarrhoea are all connected to wheat. So is it time, we said goodbye to chappatis, naans, puris, cakes, bread (brown or white), rava, semiya so on and so forth.
The choice is yours. Say No to puris and have a lovely gut or say Yes to puris and have a stinky gut.
What was I to do? Was there a way out of this ruckus?
One experiment is worth a thousand books (sensor to the rescue):
(Sensor readings of Sivakumar)
How could I separate the chaff from the grains? How could I separate facts from opinion? Whom should I believe? Should I run my life based on hearsay, a judgement or should I discover the truth to myself? Fortunately technology is there to our rescue and I discovered it in the form of Glucose sensor which Dr.Deyanandan fitted on me.
One thing surprises me about people, they are ready to pass on judgment and opinions at the drop of a hat but ask them to fit a sensor and discover the truth within, they run away like deer confronted by a tiger. Why don’t they face reality? The truth may hit us like a tonne of bricks, but can free us from the figment of our imagination.
The Great Healer of Tamil Nadu claims that jaggery, palm sugars do lot of good to us. Has this messiah tried the sensor on himself? He may be responsible for a thousand deaths and he will as long as people run their lives based on belief.
Fruits are good or so I thought but this instrument said a firm “NO” to it. Be it tea, payasam, ice cream, rice, potato, pasta – whatever I consumed, my insulin spiked. So what was I to consume? We forget the other two constituents of the ‘Food Pyramid’ – proteins & carbohydrates. Be it eggs, paneer, walnuts, almonds, coconut, olive oil – my insulin never spiked.
What carbs to eat?
Veggies my dear! The rainbow of vegetables; VIBGYOR came to my assistance. Each colour brings in a phytonutrient with it, which will protect my body against cancer. Moreover most of them have dietary fibres, which work brilliantly on my gut. As for the insulin spikes, these veggies are complete carbohydrates and hence take a long time to enter the blood stream.
The Grand Finale: (Body for life)
6 months into a veggie, eggs, kefir , nuts, fish and paneer filled diet, my glucose which was hovering around 300 mg / dl range is now in the 90s. My HDL has shot up from 40 to 55. My triglycerides have crashed down from 120 to 66. My Blood Pressure reads 110 / 66 and I have shed 12 kilos.
When Tim Ferris was asked whether carbs are good or bad? His answer was yes –he said, if you are as fit as an Olympic Athlete, do take carbs after a workout. Otherwise, if you are still desperate, have it now and then – once every 6 months.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder; the facts lie bare before you. Test it out for yourself and decide your true calling – ARE CARBS GOOD OR BAD?
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