In case you didn’t know, in the UK, we love our carbs, they are also the biggest macronutrient in our diet. The problem is that with 63 per cent of UK adults now overweight or obese, many experts think we are eating far too many of the wrong sorts of carbohydrate.
There have been numerous studies and arguments about what (or who) is to blame for our obesity crisis, but in reality, carbs are a killer and are one of the main reasons for our record levels of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
A new BBC TV show has just been released from Xand van Tulleken, a medical doctor and self-professed carb-lover, to the point where he used to weigh 19 stone. The film investigates cutting-edge research into the possible link between carb consumption and infertility in both women and men, and even looks into whether genetic changes are taking place as we pass our eating habits on to our children. (Click here to watch the program)
One of the biggest misconceptions about diet is that every person will react to every food the in same way, but everyone’s different, so people’s blood sugar will spike to different foods. That said, foods that we think are healthy actually contain a staggering amount of sugar. For example, Xand discovers that a baked potato is the equivalent of an astonishing 19 sugar lumps, whereas a large bowl of strawberries is only four.
Many people believe that chewing an unsalted cracker until the taste changes is a test to determine how well they tolerate starchy carbs like rice, pasta and bread. Actually it’s true… most people have an enzyme in their saliva, called amylase, which breaks down carbohydrates. Analysis shows this varies from person to person, with some people having 50 times more than others, and some people having virtually none. Amylase breaks down the complex starch molecules into simple sugars. So, when you chew a cracker, when it turns sweet this taste is due to the amylase beginning to break down the carbohydrates into sugars.
If you are someone who doesn’t break down starch easily, there are plenty of ways to eat carbs but in a way that is much healthier!
There is a little-known type of carbohydrate called resistant starch; like fibre, it helps keep bowel cancer at bay, but most people in the UK still don’t eat enough of it. Of course, the easiest way to do this is to bake your own products, like bread, but instead of using plain flour that is high in carbs and therefore sugar, use Fibre flour that is low in sugar but doesn’t spoil the taste of the bread. (A great website to purchase this from is Lonjevity-foods.com)
However, if you don’t enjoy or don’t have the time to produce your own products, there are a few simple ways to alter the nutritional value. The first is to freeze your bread before toasting it- this process turns some of the sugary starch into resistant starch and feeds your healthy gut bacteria the energy that it needs, instead of feeding you.
Scientists have discovered that other starchy carbs like pasta, rice and potatoes can be changed in this very simple way (freezing then cooking or re-heating) to make them better for us. They become less calorific as well as provide vital food for our good gut bacteria (The microbiome)
And finally, if you are a big gym goer or maybe you just enjoy your weekly exercise, swishing a sports drink in your mouth and then spitting it out boosts performance in endurance events lasting longer than about 30 minutes. It tricks your body into thinking that it is about to digest carbs, the signals to the brain then stimulate your body like it normally would but without digesting all the sugar.
But perhaps most importantly, throughout the programme, Xand teams up with a GP to trial a healthy eating plan which is very similar to ProLongevity. We originally devised our service to help diabetic and obese patients. Our plan doesn’t count calories but asks our clients to be smart with their carbs – swapping ‘sugary’ carbs for more fibre. We also ensure to make your health journey enjoyable and sustainable, if there is a certain food that you just can’t live without, we don’t “force” you to give it up completely because there’s invariably a way around it. We know full well that you wouldn’t be able to make the ProLongevity program a permanent lifestyle because you wouldn’t enjoy it. Instead, we make reasonable changes to the rest of your diet to cut out all the processed foods. Enjoy!
If you’d like to learn more about ProLongevity or chat with Graham, just click here to book a free 15-minute consultation. He will guide you through the process and answer any questions you might have. www.prolongevity.co.uk/contactus