HEALTHY FOODS & LONGEVITY
By Dr.Harold Gunatillake
delivered at the Women’s International Club, Guilford Crescent,
on 20th Feb. 2003- modified for the web)
On the other hand the drug industries are applying pressure on us to take more drugs to remain healthy for longevity. A very good example is the ‘statins’ to control your blood cholesterol, costing over fifty rupees a tablet to take daily for the rest of your life, as recommended by the doctors, when a food parcel costs much less.
We are supposed to eat more carbohydrates than proteins and fats. This is well emphasized in the famous Food guide pyramid created for us by the US Department of Agriculture, first published in 1992. Obviously, the Americans ate the recommended carbs too much causing epidemics of obesity, without realizing that any excess carbs would be converted to saturated fats.
Carbohydrates, as a class, are the most abundant organic compounds found in nature. Though the humans cannot manufacture them, the green plants and bacteria produce them using the process known as photosynthesis, in which carbon dioxide is taken from the air by means of solar energy to yield carbohydrates.
We classify carbs as monosaccharides the simplest sugar as in glucose, the disaccharides containing cane sugar, lactose, and maltose. The polysaccharides have enormous molecules made up of one type or several types of monosaccaride units, such as starch, cellulose, and rice, pastas, bread, vegetables, potatoes, are all included in this group. The complex carbs containing high fibre are strongly recommended for daily consumption.
Let me now talk to you about
To bring the blood glucose level down to normality, the pancreas has to be quick functionally, and send out a hormone called ‘insulin’ to ferry the glucose to the liver and other tissues. Pancreas has no thermostatic control mechanism, and most times send out uncontrolled quantums of insulin into your bloodstream, with demands, resulting in sometimes lowering the normal blood sugar levels. This, we refer to as a ‘hypoglycaemic syndrome. This is why you sometimes feel hungry and perspire immediately after a meal. So the solution is avoid eating fast foods containing sugars. Rice, potatoes and white bread are also classified as having high GI.
Those that are classified as moderate GI are absorbed through the gut at a moderate level, whilst the complex carbs that are classified as low GI are absorbed very slowly. These complex carbs containing high fibre needs to be broken down in the gut by enzymes and the glucose produced is absorbed very slowly. The pancreas can handle this situation by sending slow streams of insulin causing no catastrophes. There may come a time when the insulin becoming less sensitive and less active, when high GI foods are eaten frequently, so that would be the beginning of early diabetes. So, confirmed diabetics too should eat carbs with low GI, to keep the blood glucose level within normal.
Let me now mention a few foods
that we consume daily that have high and low GI.
In the said US. Pyramid the importance of eating vegetables in abundance is not emphasized as the major portion of carbohydrates. As a rough guide 1/3rd of your plate should have carbohydrates like rice, noodles, etc. and ½ the plate as vegetables, and a ¼ as meat, fish, or alternatives. Today, we know that vegetarians live longer than those who eat more animal meat. Further it is emphasized that at least one-third of all the veggies you eat should be raw, as cooking and processing can destroy essential micronutrients. Vegetables are an easy and obvious choice to enjoy raw.
Dr Joseph Marcola in one of
his articles states that vegetable juicing should be an essential part
of your nutritional plan, which is enjoyable and an easy way to consume
your raw vegetables on a daily basis. You need to invest in a juicer for
this daily routine.
Recently a report by Leif Busk, head of the Research and Development Department of the Swedish National Food Administration showed that overcooking of some baked and fried starchy foods causes acrylamide to be formed in these cooked foods. Acrylamide is cancer causing in animals.
Not only is acryl amide formed
in some starchy food but also meat cooked at high temperatures has many
as 20 compounds known as heterocyclic amines.
It is also observed that the
more food is cooked, the more difficult to digest and metabolise.
Higher temperatures are used in Pasteurized milk, chocolates, Margarine, Sugar manufactory, White flour and regular salt. Forget not the sweet meats, Bombay sweets, traditional oil fried sweet eats we enjoy at functions, and festivities. In this sense, ‘wataluppams’ which we enjoy at Muslim functions, is bad news. Oven baked food in our wayside mushroom Pastry shops in most suburbs and main roadsides have to be taken notice of seriously.
Researchers from the University of California at Davis how volunteers digested bread that had been cooked to varying degrees: The slightly cooked bread went through the stomach rapidly and caused no problems in digestion. But the longer the bread was cooked, the longer it stayed in the stomach.
Francis Pottenger, quoted in an article on Dangers of overcooking your food, 29/5/02, by Nancy Appleton MD, states that every food has a heat labile point. The heat labile point is the temperature point at which food changes its chemical configuration. All foods are made up of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen in different chemical configurations with minerals added.
The article further states- “that we have come from early man eating foods in certain chemical configurations. We have the digestive enzymes to digest foods with those chemical configurations. When food is heated past the heat-labile point, its chemical configuration changes”.
Pasteurizing, deep-frying and
barbecuing, are methods of cooking past the heat labile point. The body
does not understand these new configurations and does not have the enzymes
to digest the food easily.
Such changes in the ecology within the gut poisons the normal friendly bacteria, causing overgrowth of candida and other pathogens. The irritation of the gut causes the inner lining cells to enlarge. When this happens, the putrefied, undigested or partially digested foods slip into the blood stream, called the leaky gut syndrome.
When they get into the blood stream these toxins become free radicals, and the liver becomes overloaded with them. These free radicals could be responsible for food allergies, causing runny eyes, scratchy throat, itchy ears, sinusitis and sneezing. They can cause headaches, anger, fatigue and perspiration, and in the joints- arthritis, and on the skin they can cause skin irritations and acne.
Luckily the immune system comes
into action and clears these toxins.
Safety of Chips, Fries
FDA researchers tested numerous brands of commercially available packaged and fast foods, according to an article written by Jeanie Davis and reviewed by Michael Smith MD, in WebMD Medical News, for the presence of acrylamide, a chemical known to cause cancer in animals at high doses. However, there are doubts whether acrylamide in such lower doses found in human foods will cause cancer.
Further report says that Acrylamide may be formed when foods high in carbohydrates-sugars and starches- are fried or baked. Earlier this year, Swedish scientists reported that acrylamide forms when a naturally occurring amino acid in foods is heated with certain sugars such as glucose.
Then the polyunsaturated vegetable oils became popular and we were told that they were good for heart health as it reduced the bad cholesterol in the blood. The unsaturated oils available in our supermarkets are Corn oils, Canola oils, Olive oils, Vegetable oils, Sesame oils, Peanut oils, Soya Oils, and coconut oils. So, what are we going to choose?
Despite ubiquitous concern
about fat and cholesterol, fats still play an important role in good health
and fine cooking. First, they provide the means for transporting the fat
soluble vitamins (A,D,E,K) where they contribute to healthy bones, nerves,
and skin. Butter is a saturated animal fat from butter fat. It has cholesterol
and when eaten will increase the bad cholesterol in the blood. Still a
little butter used as cooking oil infrequently will not affect cholesterol
levels. Many housewives also use margarine as cooking oil for many years.
We were told being made of poly unsaturated fats from vegetable seeds
will not increase the cholesterol level in blood. Margarine is made from
hydrogenated fats or trans fats. These man made fats are more saturated
than saturated natural fats, which was not revealed by the vested interests
for many years. Margarine is unhealthier to use as cooking oil than butter.