It is probably a very human trait to obsess over our food.
We are diet snobs. If not for religious purposes we'll format our menu on ethical or health grounds.
I'm no different -- but since I'm diabetic, 'diet' becomes a bigger issue for me as I want to keep my blood glucose levels in control.
But being diabetic also means I can eat something and an hour or so later, test my blood to see how the food is impacting on my body.
I get to measure my own pathology.
I get to measure my own pathology.
Aside from some key very generic health symptoms, blood glucose readings will decide if you are diabetic and how much of a diabetic you are.
After 3-4 years of eating a low carbohydrate diet (actually LCHF: Low carb/high fat) my blood glucose picture is such that I now usually fall within the 'normal range' :
However, shortly after eating, the blood glucose level may rise, in non-diabetics, temporarily up to 7.8 mmol/L (140 mg/dL) or slightly more. For people with diabetes maintaining 'tight diabetes control', the American Diabetes Association recommends a post-meal glucose level of less than 10 mmol/L (180 mg/dL) and a fasting plasma glucose of 3.9 to 7.2 mmol/L (70–130 mg/dL).
Even after a meal my blood glucose seldom goes above 6.3-6.7 mmol, and breaching 7 mmol is, for me, rarer still.
So eating low carb works...for me.
However, over these years I've experimented with some dense carbs like sweet potatoes and white rice. Despite this indulgence -- my occasional splurge seldom led to major spikes in my blood sugar.
Why not? Aren't they as cabohydratey as a loaf of bread or a jar of honey?Am I not diabetic?
In short: no. Some carbs are kosher and they're called safe starches. Not every gram of carbohydrate is equal.
Part of the background story relates to the question of Resistant Starch. Resistant Starch (RS) is starch and starch degradation products that escape from digestion in the small intestine of healthy individuals. It is resistant to digestion.
But there is more to the story too when you look at these safe starches.
- they are tubers, white rice and the like
- they are not grains (ie: grass seeds, except for the rice)
The key question is what these starches break down to.Therein lies a scientific debate which I won't go into. You'll have to do your own Googling.
But the 'concept' begins to explain my easy response to the carb dense foods I occasionally indulged in : white rice and sweet potatoes. These happen to be core 'safe starches'.
But that's not the full story. It's also a question of how these foods are eaten and with what. And therein lies a fascinating story that relates to some challenging anthropology.
Examples: Kitava, Okinawans, Tukisenta all eat very high carb and are all free from modern inflammatory diseases.The whole rationale for the low carb menu -- and its buddy, the paleo diet -- suffers from the complication that many societies survived and thrived on high carbohydrate foods without the western diet type consequences of massive incidences of obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
How is that possible if eating low carb tucker was supposedly the best of all possible dietary regimes god for all peeps?
That conundrum is where some of the online low carbers are trying to deal with and probably the best synthesis of that to register so far is the work of Paul Jaminet and Shou-Ching Shih Jaminet.
Of course there is a lot of spin and rhetoric in the mix. But I can garner enough to register my own takeaways.
- safe starches are kosher: go ahead, you can eat them so long as you recognise that people are different and responses will vary.
- but make sure you eat your safe starches with fats, acids (like pickles, vinegar or yogurt) at the same meal along with your surfeit of meat, fish and eggs. The mix changes the digestive process esp as regards glycemic load.
Of course I can't go chomping through starches willy nilly -- even 'safe' ones -- because I'm still diabetic so I need to take care as to quantities I put in my mouth. But that's something I need to experiment with. But with my trusty blood test kit at my elbow I'm set up as my own laboratory..