- My robotic spider paranoia
- Is gluten free pasta really that good for you? A nutritional test reveals all
- The link between rice and diabetes
Am I being spied on by tiny robotic spiders?
This is the question I’m asking myself.
And here’s why…
On the 18th of February I was putting the final touches to the People’s Doctor issue, ready to send to you on the 19th.
It was the one called Is Gluten Free really the healthiest option?
I challenged the idea that going gluten-free was a healthier option for people who aren’t actually intolerant of gluten. Cutting down on carbohydrates is good… but swapping wheat based carbohydrates for the same amount of gluten-free carbohydrates is problematic.
As I was writing I felt something crawling on the side of my face. I flicked it away and a spider swung out over my computer, dangling from a thread. I detached the thread and lowered the spider to the floor.
Minutes later, the thing is hovering right in front of my face again.
Genuinely it returned to hassle me about three or four times – it was totally maddening.
But despite the arachnid problem I finished my email on gluten and set it up to send to you on Saturday.
The next day I’m doing my usual trawl through the day’s newspaper health stories and what do I see?
“IS GLUTEN-FREE PASTA REALLY THAT GOOD FOR YOU?” cried the Mail on Sunday.
They had carried out a like-for-like comparison between regular pasta and the gluten-free version.
Or tiny robotic spy spiders (or ‘spyders’) sent by the Mail on Sunday to watch what I’m doing?
I’ll let you decide.
The Mail’s article was a sort of taste test by nutritionist Jackie Lynch. She and the author of the piece went through products including Orgran Gluten Free Quinoa Penne, Doves Farm Organic Gluten Free Maize and Rice Penne, and Bare Baked Noodles.
Their conclusions totally chimed with what I was saying the other week…
The Quinoa Penne turned out to be mainly rice, maize and mullet flour, meaning it had DOUBLE the carb level of regular penne.
The Doves Farm product was very similar in taste and texture to regular pasta but also had double the carbs and calories.
And the Bare Baked noodles were declared to have very little in the way of nutrients.
However, there was one product called Organic Chickpea Fusillli, which didn’t taste as good as regular pasta. This one was packed with nutrition including antioxidants that justified “the high calorie count”.
More important, this one avoided rice.
And it’s rice that’s a problematic food in so many ways rice has ten times the levels of arsenic than other foods. This is because of pollutants in paddy fields.
Usually, we’re told to avoid white rice and go for the healthier brown version.
But it turns out that there’s more arsenic in brown rice! That’s because the milling process that’s required for white rice removes some of the arsenic.
And it’s not only arsenic…
According to researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago there’s 70% more mercury found in the urine of those on a gluten-free diet.
However the biggest issue of all with rice is related to diabetes.
The Diabetes Risk of Overeating Rice
A bowl of rice contains more than twice the carbohydrate content of a can of soft drink.
These carbs are turned to sugar in your body.
In order to absorb these sugars into the blood, your pancreas pumps out insulin.
When this happens over and over again – for instance if you eat big bowls of rice every day – your pancreas becomes less efficient at producing insulin and sugar is left in your blood instead of being absorbed.
The result? Diabetes.
Starchy white rice overloads you with blood sugar and therefore can raise the risk of developing diabetes.
Of course you might say, “You’re being ludicrous, Rich, who eats bowls of rice every day?”
Well, lots of people eat it as a staple. If you’re a big lover of curries, Chinese food, chilli con carne, risotto and other tasty delights – and eat them regularly – it’s worth considering.
And while many people in Britain don’t eat rice every day, it’s often pasta or white bread, or all of them in heavy rotation.
Just look what’s happening in China where it is something that many eat every day.
In May last year the Chinese health authorities declared a “war” on diabetes, of which the main cause was a diet high in white rice.
Their view is that Asians are more predisposed to diabetes than Caucasians, which is why they don’t even need to be overweight or obese to be at risk.
In an article in the Singapore Times it was shown that 10.6% cent of people in Asia are obese, yet 11.3% are diabetic.
They compared it to this country, where 25% of people are obese and only 6.2% of its population are diabetic.
(The actual figure is worse for the UK. Statistics for 2015 revealed that 62.9% of British adults are overweight or obese.)
The Singapore Times article was very urgent on this matter. As they point out, “Diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure and amputations in Singapore.”
To add credence to this argument, there was an analysis of four major studies into the rice-diabetes link published the British Medical Journal in 2012 (you can read it here).
It showed that white rice eaten on a regular basis can increase the diabetes risk by 11% of the general population.
So what can you do?
Well, none of this means you need to give up rice.
No need to stop eating curry.
What it does mean is that you should ration the amounts of processed or starchy carbohydrates in your diet, using them as an occasional ingredient, not a daily staple.
Think about reducing the amount of rice you have with a curry or your next Chinese dish. Add a salad or vegetable element to bulk it out and replace the carbs with nutrients. For instance chickpeas with a curry add a carbohydrate element.
You could also consider making your own wholemeal bread to create a carb that’s less processed or starchy and therefore less likely to give you a sugar spike.
That’s it from me. Please don’t forget that after our technical glitch last week the People’s Doctor website is up and running again. You can read all the latest here.
Until next time,