South Indians are fond of rice but the increase in obesity, diabetes and other health conditions, have encouraged many to make the switch to wheat.
But is a plate of rotis healthier than rice?
A recent article in the Washington Post called Tom Brady’s latest Super Bowl performance the ‘greatest comeback in Super Bowl history’, stating that his career in American football has been among the longest ever in the sport’s history.
“Brady is the healthiest great champion the NFL has ever had, both physically and mentally. That is the most interesting and important aspect of his career trajectory,” says the article, remarking that he has never looked or played better than now, when he is ‘on the cusp of 40’.
Brady credits his unconventional diet lifestyle for his glowing health and fitness levels.
The diet has been attributed to his trainer Alex Guerrero along with whom he has chartered a strict, revolutionary diet that does not permit him to consume dairy, white sugar, white flour or nightshade vegetables (vegetables that grow under the shade of night including tomatoes, eggplants, and certain berries).
So what does Brady (and his family) eat? His chef Allan Campbell described the diet in an interview with Business Insider.
“80 percent of what they eat is vegetables. [I buy] the freshest vegetables. If it's not organic, I don't use it. And whole grains: brown rice, quinoa, millet, beans.”
Brady has now brought half his NFL team under his wing, confounding the sporting community who finds his trainer and his methods dubious.
But Tom Brady isn’t the only celebrity to cut out wheat— gluten-free lifestyles are among the biggest global food trends today — there are several more from Victoria’s Secret model Miranda Kerr to actors Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Alba, Gwyneth Paltrow and Ian Somerhalder; singers Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga and fashion icon Victoria Beckham who have made this choice, the same way celebrities who have Celiac disease (gluten-intolerance) have done.
However, there are doctors around the world who have been working to spread the message that wheat or even whole wheat is not as healthy as it is made out to be by the conventional medicine industry as well as the food industry.
Biochemist Dr.Sunita Koppolu, a retired biochemistry professor from one of Bengaluru’s leading hospitals, maintains that the perception that whole wheat is healthy, is just a myth.
“Wheat, to the degree it is refined, is pro-inflammatory. The Asian population was safe from this until a few decades ago when they replaced rice as their staple. The last few decades have seen an increasing incidence of obesity and metabolic diseases, coinciding with the trend of replacing native staples with wheat. The spike in blood sugar levels caused by wheat is detrimental to diabetics. Wheat is a gut-hazard,” she explains.
Dr.Sunita agrees that it is better to replace wheat with a small portion of rice and millets: “I would not just recommend this for diabetes, but for everyone because there is no way to medically assess individual degrees of intolerance to gluten.”
“More people are falling sick more than ever before, one of the main reasons is that we are overruling our climatic genes by consuming certain kinds of food, such as wheat. Wheat has been hybridised over so many years that its original genes— which were only two in number— have grown to six. Where did the extra genes come from? When you keep overruling your system this way, it is likely to lead you into such auto-immune disorders,” explains Dr. Surya Ramesh, a Bengaluru-based naturopath practising at the Vitalife Clinic and the Sri Sri Ayurveda Hospital.
Wheat, describes her colleague Dr.Meghna, slows down digestion, causes acidity-related issues, increases the toxin-levels in the body, decreasing the vitality of life.
“Wheat largely comprises two proteins — gluten and gliadin. Gluten is responsible for the sticky consistency of wheat. The gluten molecules stick to your intestines like chewing gum. This damages the stomach lining, making it gradually weaker. It’s quite like sticking a pin at the same spot in your dress every day. If you don’t change your diet, the hole will widen enough to prevent the proper absorption of nutrients and will allow toxins to enter,” she says.
Unpolished rice, millets and quinoa, however, are loaded with nutrients and are good for the body when consumed in smaller quantities, along with more raw, fresh, organically grown fruits and vegetables, the duo maintains.
They contend that the doctors who advise whole wheat for diabetics are not entirely right in doing so because the glycemic index of a slice of bread and white rice are at the same levels (between 60 and 75).
This is mainly because, observes online portal authoritynutrition.com, wheat is usually ground and refined into fine flour, which is rapidly digested by the body causing the blood sugar levels to skyrocket.
Worse, wheat may even have addictive properties, states authoritynutrition.com.
“When you cut out wheat, you lose the insatiable appetite, the cyclic highs of blood sugar and insulin, and the inflammatory phenomena via its components, gliadin, wheat germ, and gluten. Many people have told me that when they’ve eaten wheat, they couldn’t stop. Even if they ate a whole plate of pasta and felt stuffed, they wouldn’t stop. Wheat creates incredibly desperate behaviour,” says cardiologist and author of the book Wheat Belly, Dr.William Davis, in a conversation with the team from mindbodygreen.com.
He also adds, “The gliadin protein has opiate-like effects, so wheat is truly addicting. Lots of people know intuitively that they have this addictive potential because if they’ve had eight hours in which they didn’t have anything made of wheat, they’ve had insatiable cravings, nausea, nervousness, anxiety, headache, paranoia... People know intuitively that it’s very unpleasant to not have wheat because it’s an opiate withdrawal. The drug industry has persuaded the public that high cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease, which is untrue. Wheat is a flagrant trigger of heart disease.”