The Carb Question

Foods high in carbohydrate
Foods high in carbohydrate

I recently watched the movie 'Murder on the Orient Express'. The movie had two highlights. First was the breath-taking view of a black steam engine speeding against the back drop of snow-clad mountain ranges; reminding me of hot chocolate flowing over vanilla ice-cream.

And the second is a quote by the famous detective in the movie:

"There is right and then there is wrong. There is nothing in between".

– Hercule Poirot, 'Murder on the Orient Express'

Poirot was apparently blessed to be able to see the world in either black or white, good or bad. The 'little grey cells' of the detective's brain were obviously well nourished; one can imagine, by glucose, the all-important source of energy.

But what about carbohydrates (also called as 'carbs'), the source of glucose itself? Did the detective know that carbs, thought to be bad for consumption, could be good too? So good, that they could actually nourish his little grey cells?

Carbs are the main source of energy. Commonly present in rice, roti, bread and many foods, they are broken down into glucose and glucose is the energy source for the whole body.

However, excess carb consumption is unhealthy, leading to obesity, which in turn leads to Type 2 Diabetes. Indeed, it has been quipped that eating carbs in excess is even worse than overconsumption of fat. Hence, it would be incorrect to see carbs as either good or bad. There is another reason why 'all' carbs cannot be seen as either good or bad. The problem is in using the term 'all' as a generalisation. Carbs are of various types, some are good while some are bad. For instance, refined carbs found in candy and fizzy drinks are bad. And carbs found in whole grains and fruits are good. As always, quantity is the key and carbs must be consumed in moderation.

Coming back to the Orient Express, towards the end of the movie, Hercule Poirot questions his own either-black-or-white theory. His grey cells begin to appreciate shades of grey. His critical self-doubt, about this very theory, eventually helps him in concluding the railway mystery. It is simplistic to view the world in terms of black and white. Like the 'grey' coloured cells of the great detective himself, the world too has millions of colours for us to see and like.

Similarly, there are different varieties of foods in the world. It is simplistic to view them as either good or bad. Choose wisely, based on quantity and taste and you may be able to partake in the pleasures of eating and still enjoy good health.

Eat well!

Dr Unnikrishnan AG


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