Saturday, 18 March 2017

Proso Millet - Cone Dosa.


'Proso millet Cone Dosa' - Woke up to an amazing sight today- the vessel in which this proso millet batter was fermenting had overflown and messed up the kitchen platform! But I was delighted, the batter had fermented so well- I was fermenting proso millet for the first time and I was left wondering whether it was the millet or the warm night, that helped the fermentation. The dosa had a lovely flavour and was so crisp that I could actually make a cone out of it.

After food some gyan: Here is a question for you.

Will gymming or even strenuous exercising undo these effects of sugar?

Have you ever undergone a HbA1C (Haemoglobin A1C) test in order to monitor your blood sugar levels? Well, if you have heard about this test, then most likely, you were told that it measures the average three-month blood glucose level. What very few people realise about this test is that other than revealing your three-month average blood glucose level, the test also reveals something more sinister - that something, is what we would like to share with you today.

First, a gist about how the HbA1C test works. Sugar molecules have a nasty habit of binding to proteins and fats - This spontaneous binding of sugar to proteins and fats is called ‘glycation’. In fact, we even observe this property of sugar in our very own kitchens while cooking - the browning of French fries, bread etc. When a sugar molecule attaches itself to a protein - it pretty much remains attached to it for the rest of the protein’s life. Haemoglobin, a protein, responsible for transporting oxygen from lungs to the cells of our body, similarly undergoes glycation by the sugar present in our blood. The HbA1C actually measures this ‘’glycated Haemoglobin’’ - and since an increase in blood sugar increases the amount of glycated haemoglobin, it becomes extremely useful as an indicator of the “average” blood sugar over the past ninety days or so (the life span of the Haemoglobin).

Now coming to the sinister part. When proteins become glycated, two important things happen. First, they struggle to carry out their functions as they become damaged by this process. Second, they tend to attach themselves to similarly damaged proteins which only further inhibits their ability to function. Proteins are the most critical component of our body- we are what we are, majorly, because of proteins. Life on earth started because of proteins. Fortunately, proteins like Haemoglobin are replaced by our body regularly, however, there are many proteins that are never replaced or have a very long lifespan. When such proteins like those found in the eye, kidney, heart, nerves, etc are glycated, their functioning is impaired, a major reason why diabetes-related complications are associated with these organs.

What then can glycation do to our body? Well, some of the effects are obvious - like cataract and wrinkles. But, greater damage occurs within our body. High levels of glycation have been associated with cognitive decline, kidney disease, diabetes, vascular disease (blood vessel related) etc. Glycated proteins end up on the walls of our blood vessels, gradually clogging them making sugar one of the leading causes of arteriosclerosis. (1)

One must remember, that any protein in the body is subject to be damaged by glycation. Glycation of proteins is also a normal part of our metabolism and is an unavoidable part of our life. However, what we can do to drastically reduce the level of glycation that occurs in our body is ‘’reduce the availability of sugar’’ in the first place. (2) To do this, we only have to cut down or stop our intake of sugar - as simple as that.

Having said that, one must realise that all sugars do not behave in a similar fashion in our bodies - Fructose has ten times more glycation activity than glucose, which means, it can damage 10 times more proteins than what glucose in the blood can do. The most disturbing fact of table sugar (sucrose) - it is a combination of fructose and glucose. So, each time, we consume this sugar- think of what the fructose can do to your precious proteins. Let’s make our life sweet - not our food 😊

This then is food for thought – most of us gorge on sugary foods, consoling and allowing ourselves the freedom to do so, with the thought - we will just burn it off in the gym or on long walks or simply by using the stairs etc. But what about the damage that is happening on the inside? We as a society being conscious only about our external body image (weight, skin, athletic look) rarely even consider our personal internal health. We are willing to spend endlessly, to maintain an external image but not turn to saving simply by refusing to spend on ‘’Sugar’’.

P.S.: Fructose is also the sugar present in fruits and vegetables- however, the quantity is negligible, unlike the processed sugars that we consume.

1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/153062132.
2. http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/bi00406a016

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