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It’s the second season of Mummy Matters and this season is all about Food & Nutrition. This week, we reviewed the science behind the Health Promotion Board’s (“HPB”) Quarter, Quarter, Half plate, talked about whether the trendy keto and low carb high fat diets could be the solution for conditions such as gestational diabetes and discussed inflammatory foods that are in the pantries of almost every Asian household. 

Do you understand the new Quarter, Quarter, Half plate? 

Many of us out there have heard of HPB’s new recommendation – but how many of us out there actually understand it; and practice it? 

The most significant change has been the shift in its recommendation on carbohydrates. Previously, white rice and cereals were at the base of the pyramid, but nutritionists today classify these two as unhealthy refined carbohydrates. 

We explored the nutritional science behind this. 

Our bodies break down carbohydrates into glucose, which our cells use for energy. However, persistently consuming excessive carbohydrates for your body’s needs results in blood sugar spikes. As your body “gets used to” these blood sugar spikes over time, insulin sensitivity decreases and in severe cases, diabetes results. Right now, one out of every ten Singaporeans suffer from this condition, which puts them at higher risks for other health conditions such as heart attacks, stroke and kidney failure

Why Brown Rice, not White?

Since white rice is bad, shouldn’t we steer clear of all rice? 

Surprisingly, the science shows otherwise. Brown rice has been proven to actually protect people against conditions such as diabetes. This is due to the fact that it retains all the high fibre bran and high nutrient germ that white rice does not. White rice consists of solely starchy endosperm. 

Consuming brown rice used to be the norm until advancements in technology made the milling process more efficient and effective – resulting in the “pure” white rice we see today. 

The same goes for wheat. White flour only comprises starchy endosperm, while whole grain flour is made from the entire grain, so it retains bran and wheatgerm.

DISCLAIMER: 

The information below are statements of facts about the Keto and Low Carb High Fat diet, based on our research. Mumsclub Singapore does not promote such diets for any individuals, as we are not cognizant of your individual body’s needs and health risks. Please consult your doctor or a professional for more advice.

What is the Keto or Low Carb High Fat diet about? 

Keto and the low carb high fat diets require one to cut down carbohydrate intake to the bare minimum, stick to non-processed foods and eat a high (healthy) fat diet. The theory is that the body can generate energy from two sources – glucose and fat stores. By cutting down on carbohydrate intake, the body has no choice but to tap on its fat stores for energy, resulting in weight loss. In addition, due to lower blood sugar levels, the body gradually regains its insulin sensitivity. 

The popularity of these two diets can be partially attributed towards its popularity amongst the diabetic community, for helping them regain their insulin sensitivity and manage blood sugar levels.

However, the keto and low carb high fat diets have not been studied in the long term sufficiently for dieticians and nutritionists to safely recommend it for all individuals.

Is the Keto or Low Carb High Fat diet suitable for me if I am at risk, or have gestational diabetes?

Generally, your gynae would recommend that you steer clear of foods high in carbohydrates, such as white rice, sweets, potatoes, etc. 

Food that we conventionally know to be healthy for pregnant women include salmon, eggs, meat (pork, chicken, beef) and dark green leafy vegetables. These are all approved keto and low carb high fat foods. However, insufficient research has been conducted and we advise following HPB’s recommendation of switching to wholegrain choices, which have been proven to protect against diabetes. 

What’s really Healthy? 

Do you know that Pork Fat / lard ranks 8 on the World’s Most Nutritious Foods? In contrast, Vegetable Oil has been identified as an extremely inflammatory food, due to the way it is processed over high heat and then blended with deodorizers (to counteract the smell) and other additives that fall under the broad label of “vegetable”. The exception to this is cold-pressed olive oils and coconut oil. 

Scientists and nutritionists are increasingly becoming aware of the fact that the more processed a food is, the more harmful it is for our body. 

Even as medical science has been progressing rapidly, mortality rates are increasing. The incidence of cancer increased by almost 30% between 1973 and 2015 in the U.S., with the median age of diagnosis going down – meaning patients are getting younger. In Singapore, the Ministry of Health estimates that the number of diabetes patients will double, by 2050. 

So what is going wrong? With improved standards of living, better hygiene and more knowledge about diseases, why are more people getting sick? 

A Challenge the Previous Generations never faced 

Much of the technologies used to create and process food was discovered and further refined in the 20th century. Hence, we do not know, beyond the short-term trials conducted by manufacturers, the long-term consequences of ingesting food processed in certain ways. 

Our shocking find? Soy sauce.

Traditionally, creating soy sauce was a laborious nine-month process of love. So how is it that one can buy soy sauce so cheaply off the shelves? Unlike traditional soy sauce manufacturers, who only use soy beans, water and salt, manufacturers discovered chemical hydrolysis in the late 1980s, which shortened the entire process to less than a week! 

However, due to the difference in chemical composition, manufacturers had to include additives to make it taste like the original product. Common ingredients you might see in a cheap soya sauce bottle would be hydrolyzed vegetable protein, corn syrup, caramel, food colouring.

How do we Protect our Families, Eat Right and Live Well?

Read your labels – if there are too many ingredients you don’t recognise, put it back. 

Secondly, know your food. Where do they come from, how were they made? When you know and understand how your food is made, it is much easier to make the healthier, better choice.  

Thirdly, the less processed, the better. Choose meat off the bone, instead of luncheon meat. Choose brown rice, over white. Eat vegetables, rather than man-made meat alternatives.

Talk to us!

Let us know your thoughts on the comments below, or hop on over to our Facebook Page or Instagram. Next week, we’ll be talking about our very complicated relationship with food during pregnancy and confinement, as well as discussing traditional weaning vs baby-led weaning. Tune in next week, to the next podcast episode of Mummy Matters

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