There are carbs galore from our green garden in mid summer; should we be avoiding them?
Those of you who read this column with any regularity will know that I do not advocate avoiding all carbs; except in the case of those who are morbidly obese and diabetic.
More specifically, it’s the refined carbs that do the damage. Beets and cane are good; sugar is bad. Corn is fantastic; super mealie-meal is awful. Wheat is a wonder food; cake flour is the great deceiver. Potatoes from cold storage make you fat; even diabetics can enjoy new spuds in moderation.
There is a huge amount in the literature about the benefits of whole grains; the difficulty is that they are extremely difficult to get, so the whole lot get lumped in with the bad carbs.
From our green garden we have an abundance of food right now that the followers of ketogenic diets think we should shun. As always you have to read the fine print; there are difficulties with carbs but oversimplification of the issues is not helpful. We avoid whole grains and legumes because of their starch content at our peril, in my opinion.
But there are issues with carbs that we do need to clearly understand. In a morbidly obese world, with the great majority of those suffering and dying are from “non-communicable diseases.” Those are the ones mostly that are killing us; heart conditions, stroke and diabetes. And in fact over half those dying from Covid are obese too.
Refine a carbohydrate and it will raise your blood glucose, stress your pancreas and liver, make you insulin-resistant and likely put on those unwanted kilogrammes.
Right now we are faced with a glut of healthy carbs at our green home, and it’s making me stop and consider. I have come to the conclusion that those who stress no more than one at a meal are probably spot on. If I have wholegrain mealiemeal for breakfast and Eggs Hilton on toast, I feel bloated.
A mealie and a slice of wholegrain bread for lunch is just too much. New potatoes and a pudding for supper is over the top. The other option, a good one, is half a helping of each.
It’s all about “glycemic load.” We need to keep even the good carbs under control. Enjoy them in small amounts without guilt; they are good for us, providing the fibre for the friendly bugs in the intestine and bulk for the stool.
We are going dizzy with the choice of healthy carbs right now. New potatoes are so delicious; wholegrain bread is so good you don’t need anything more than butter on it, it tastes so good. Freshly-ground mealiemeal straight from our little mill makes a wonderful breakfast; corn on the cob. And quite soon it will be butternut and lima-beans; a nightmare for those who are trying to bant.
Yes, it’s complex; that is why there is so much controversy. Do enjoy a mealie for lunch right now, without guilt, but do keep the load down. That probably means no bread; have a salad instead. Do start thinking about where you could plant some broad-beans and peas; they are full of nourishing protein and some carbohydrate. Do make the decision to strictly limit sugar and cake flour for ever; they are the very devil.
Many people say, mistakenly I believe, that it is too expensive to eat healthily; they just cannot afford it. I contend that its refined food that is really expensive. For example, 1kg of maize costs me R3.20. Turn it into cornflakes and the price rockets to R68.99 at the Village Spar. Two potato plants lifted this afternoon yielded 3kg of organic spuds of a quality you’ll find extremely difficult to purchase. The real cost is the sweat off your brow.
Many of course reading this will heap scorn on what I have written. So be it; we live and die by the choices we make. Incidentally we have not put on an ounce this summer; in fact I have lost 1kg. Sawing and splitting timber from a fallen tree has helped. Again, it’s the sweat off your brow.
In America literally millions of people have started growing their own food for the first time, making health a priority. That’s important for us obviously, but the massive savings and joy of growing your own food is high on our agenda too. Should we do less in South Africa?
It’s purely anecdotal, and of no scientific value, but we are firmly convinced that this way of living and eating is why we take no medication whatsoever, and have not seen our doctor for over a year; unusual for a couple in their eighth decade.
That’s where the real savings are. These are principles we have learned from those living in the five Blue Zones of the world; where ten times as many people live into vigorous, healthy old age.
A study of blue zone longevity has made a profound impression on us.
Carbs galore raises important questions about starches from our food.
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