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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Healthier eating habits in Indian Diet

Here is the way to healthier eating habits by a slight modification of the traditional Indian diet.

The traditional Indian diet is a high carbohydrate diet; deficient in high-quality protein and antioxidants. Moreover Indians use the wrong quality oils for cooking.

Carbohydrate enters the blood as glucose. Most Indians cannot utilise all the glucose from the traditional high carbohydrate diet. What cannot be utilised is converted into fat. In those who have diabetes, it remains in the blood at levels higher than normal and acts as a slow poison.

It has also been proved that high triglyceride and low HDL (good cholesterol levels), which cause predisposition to cardiovascular diseases, are also the result of a high carbohydrate diet.

Rice (78 per cent carbohydrate), wheat (72 per cent), and sugar (99 per cent) are the main culprits. The most effective way to reduce the carbohydrate content is to eat twice a day as was originally the custom — and to mix 50 gm of soya flour (pale yellow variety) with 50 gm wheat/rice flour — to make the traditional Indian food. Soya contains only 20 per cent carbohydrate and should become an integral part of the Indian diet to prevent and treat obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.

It has been clinically proved in India and abroad that including as little as 50 gm of soya in the diet everyday acts as a natural medicine to lower both total and bad (LDL) cholesterol levels.

Mixing 25 gm soya flour with wheat flour to make chapattis or with two scoops of idli/dosa batter will lower blood glucose levels in diabetic patients. Since mixing soya into cereals will lower blood glucose levels, medication for lowering blood glucose levels will have to be reduced and, in certain cases, stopped. Therefore this must be followed under medical supervision in those diabetic patients who are on medication, which may include insulin.

Cardiovascular Diseases are most effectively prevented by those oils which contain an increased percentage of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), especially oleic acid. Westerners use olive oil.

In India we can get almost the same benefit from using sesame (gingelly), groundnut and rice bran oils, preferably a combination of all three. These oils also contain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in the right percentage so that the Omega-3 and Omega-6 balance is maintained. This is an important factor to regulate good and bad cholesterol levels and is often overlooked.

Sunflower and safflower oils have a very high percentage of Omega-6 fatty acids. This disturbs the ratio between Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.

Coconut and palm oils contain a high percentage of saturated fatty acids that raise the LDL (bad cholesterol) levels as do trans-fatty acids contained in hydrogenated fats like margarine and dalda and oil that has been used repeatedly for deep frying.

Vegetable oil does not contain cholesterol. So refining oils, while improving the taste, flavour and consistency, does not remove cholesterol, as is commonly believed. In fact, heat and chemicals used to refine oils damage the valuable essential fatty acids. Therefore, unrefined, cold pressed oils should be used. Soya oil is also valuable but need not be used if 50 gm soya is included in the daily diet. Mustard oil may also be used for special dishes.

The traditional Indian diet lacks good quality protein. The protein contained in soya is a high quality complete protein. Fifty gm of soya will provide 20 grams of protein. This is also present in two glasses of milk.

Other sources of protein in a vegetarian diet would include 500 ml toned milk, (including curd and paneer), mushrooms, green leafy vegetables, and 50 gm of other pulses Non-vegetarians may include fish, egg (three yolks a week), chicken, and other meats without visible fat and skin and shellfish.

All pulses, including soya, contain certain enzymes that make them indigestible. So it is always advisable to soak pulses overnight and pressurecook them for at least 20 minutes. This destroys the enzymes.


The mid-morning meal should contain a high percentage of antioxidants that protect us from the effects of atmospheric pollution, pesticides in food, aging, immune diseases, cancer and cardiovascular diseases Antioxidants are found in fresh vegetables and fruits, pulses and legumes, nuts, tea and vegetable oils.

So this meal should consist of plenty of raw vegetables cut into small pieces and mixed, if necessary, with 125 ml of curd made from toned milk; plenty of cooked vegetables (except potatoes, yam and raw banana) prepared in oil of the right quality.

One item predominant in protein should also be included — homemade paneer or tofu, fish, chicken or meat without the skin and fat, shellfish, egg, pulses, soya channa, flakes or nuggets Preferably do not include rice, wheat or anything sweet in this first meal.

Traditionally, Indians did not eat breakfast. This is scientifically healthy practice, contrary to the belief that breakfast should be eaten like a king!

Glucose from the night meal would have entered the cells to produce energy and most of it would not have been used while we were sleeping. When we again eat a high carbohydrate meal for breakfast, the glucose, since it is not required, is cleared from the blood and converted into fat.

Also, cortisol levels in the blood are highest in the morning and this results in poor utilisation of glucose at this time. In medical terms, this is referred to as insulin resistance. Glucose should be delivered in small measured amounts to keep its blood level within normal in the morning.

Ideally, start the day with a mug of tea or coffee (using diluted milk and a about 1½ teaspoons of sugar). Two hours later have a glass of thick tomato juice mixed with spices to make it tasty. (This will not cause stones in the urinary tract as is wrongly believed.) Another two hours later have six almonds or pistas or a fistful of roasted soya nuts along with diluted buttermilk, rasam or lime juice with salt.

Lunch should be eaten after 1 pm. Three hours later, drink another cup of tea or coffee (tea is healthier than coffee) along with a fistful of roasted channa. Then dinner may be eaten whenever hungry.

The process of digestion requires high levels of energy and the best time to eat well is at night. This is contrary to popular belief but is based on sound scientific facts.

The digestive process that drains the body of energy (notice how sleepy you feel in the afternoon after having eaten large quantities of rice or wheat at lunch time) may be effectively accomplished while we are asleep.

Again, since blood cortisol levels are lowest in the evening, glucose is most effectively utilised at this time of day. In medical terms this is known as insulin sensitivity. Dinner should therefore contain items made from rice and wheat products or anything containing sugar like ice creams, desserts, and fruits.

If adhered to strictly, this diet will provide about 1,200 calories. It contains about 55-60 per cent carbohydrate, 25-30 per cent protein, and 20 to 25 per cent oil.

Finally, chew well and eat slowly. If you eat slowly, glucose will enter the blood slowly and your body will be able to utilise most of it.

If you gulp your food down without chewing it well, all the glucose will be absorbed at the same time, the body will not able to utilise all of it and excess glucose will be converted into fat.

A 20-minute brisk walk, along with a 10-minute work out consisting of stretching and muscle toning exercises and about 20 minutes of yoga (including Mudra Pranayama) will go a long way to keep your body and mind fit and healthy.


Source: The Hindu

2 comments:

krishnachaitanya said...

Good info yar

Abdul Shajith said...

Wow, it is lovely article in a nutshell that any layman can understand.

Thanks and expecting more