Thursday, September 8, 2016

Don't eat between meals - old folk's advice.

Dr Abe V Rotor

Coffee break is a corporate invention, and snacks are the first version of fast food, thanks to capitalism. So why take heed of the old advice?

Well, let’s look at it this way. Our old folks take heavy meals, mainly rice or corn, depending on the region they live, and they do not eat anything in between meals. Yet they work for long hours, and are healthy. How is that?

Starch in cereals is polysaccharide, which means that it has to be broken down into simple sugar before it is “burned” by the body to release energy. 

Amylose structural formula.

Note: The typical polysaccharide is between 200 and 2500 monosaccharides long, and they can be either linear or branched carbon chains. Usually, the structure of polysaccharides is six-carbon
repeating monosaccharides linked together by oxygen. The chemical formula is often (C6H10O5)n, where the n is a number larger than 40.

Starch has to be hydrolyzed with the aid of enzyme (amylase) found in our digestive system. Glucose, the ultimate product is broken down through oxidation (respiration), providing the needed energy for various body functions. This transformation takes hours, releasing energy throughout the process, and by the time the fuel is exhausted, it is time for the next meal. This is a simple test. Have you experienced having a grain of rice unknowingly tucked between the gums and teeth? After an hour of so, the grain taste sweet. It means that the grain is undergoing hydrolysis – from starch to sugar.

White sugar (sucrose), on the other hand is directly burned, after it has been split into two monosaccharides. That is why too much white sugar leads to high blood sugar – if we do not burn it – and may in the long run become the cause of diabetes.

                                                        Gluten formula 

This eating regimen of old folks may apply to manual workers, principally in the field. Today we find this virtually impossible to follow. First, we need a lot of energy, mainly for the brain, and secondly, we are already accustomed to having snacks. In fact many of us virtually never stop eating. A foreigner once commented, “Filipinos are always eating.” What with all the advertisements - from TV commercials to giant billboards - and the proliferation of food carts and stores. 

In wheat eating countries, the kind of starch is even harder to digest.  Wheat has gluten, a complex protein that is responsible in leavening.  When yeast is added to the dough, Carbon Dioxide evolves as by-product of fermentation. This gas is trapped by the gluten causing the bread to rise. Leavened bread is usually made into sandwich in Western countries often in lieu of regular meals. Because gluten takes time to be digested and converted into simple sugars and subsequently energy, as compared to the starch of rice or corn, Americans are observed to be eating less and less frequent. The other reason is that wheat has high nutrient value.  Whole wheat contains 10 to 12 percent protein, while regular milled rice has 4 to 6 percent.    

Gluten is elastic and tough compared to other plant proteins, hard to break, thus responsible in the leavening of bread. It is a distinguishing characteristic of wheat, and generally insignificant if not absent other cereals, including rice and corn, the world's most important staples shared by wheat. Gluten causes intolerance often mistaken as food allergy, specially among children.

Acknowledgement: Internet Illustrations

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