Tuesday, 21 October 2014

trust me, I'm a doctor

Last night I watched episode 2 of Trust Me, I'm A Doctor. Part of the programme was about pasta. It stated or at least implied that pasta is unhealthy, then showed a way of making it healthier. As it says on this page:-

'Although starch is an important part of a healthy diet, it’s easily broken down. As soon as we consume starch the body very quickly starts to digest it, releasing sugars into the blood which in turn causes our bodies to release the hormone insulin. It’s a boom and bust cycle that can take a toll on our health.'

That's very much a generalization. Starch is of two types, amylose and amylopectin. Amylopectin is easily broken down but amylose takes longer. Pasta is already a healthy starch, especially when it is cooked for a shorter time (al dente) and of a type that is thicker. If you want to lower the glycemic index even more you can combine it with protein, or add a mild acid such as lemon juice or vinegar, or add fat or oil. The programme was saying that if you allow cooked pasta to cool then it becomes 'resistant starch'.

So they're saying that pasta is unhealthy, but they have found a way to make it healthy. I'm sure these sorts of statements make the show more sensational, but it gives a distorted picture of what people should be eating. It's a pity because pasta and long-grain rice are the cheapest of foods, cheaper than sugar and processed foods. If you make starch too resistant to digestion then some people suffer bloating. I think it is possible that bad bacteria (and other micro-organisms) will thrive and not beneficial bacteria.

There are types of carbohydrate that are collectively known as FODMAP. This is an acronym used for substances that don't get digested well in the small intestine. They are consumed by bacteria in the large intestine and can cause health problems.

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