Thursday, February 17, 2011

Slow Release Foods

Have you ever heard of the concept of slow release foods? No? Me either until recently.

This trimester I am taking a class called "Food and Culture" where we learn about cuisines, diets, nutrition, and agriculture from all over the world and its influence on culture and society. A few weeks ago we did a case study on a people group that had suddenly developed an epidemic of diabetes. Since the early 1900s, more than half of all the tribe was diagnosed with diabetes and it was the number one cause of death. 

Nutritionists and scientists did study after study, with many of the conclusions relating to the diet of the tribe "before and after" the mass production of food. Before prepackaged and mass produced food became widely available and grocery stores were packed with these kinds of options, this specific people group were foragers and hunters mostly eating the plants found in their desert region.  The plants they ate contained certain membranes that, when digested, released the sugars and carbohydrates slowly into the blood stream. These foods had more bang for the buck, lasting longer in the body. 

The food that the tribe had been eating in the past hundred years or so was packed with quick release sugars and carbs- white bread, soft drinks, baked goods, many pastas. You might have heard of "refined" sugars and grains, and that is exactly what we are talking about. You eat them and your body processes them quickly, letting all the sugar and carbs straight into your blood stream. Basically injecting your body with sugar.

The theory was that the people's bodies did not know how to handle the intense inflow of sugars and carbs, and therefore they got diabetes. 

After doing some outside research, I realized that the whole thing makes sense and that many nutritionists promote a "slow release" diet, full of foods made up of whole grains, fiber and minerals so often taken out of refined foods.  Eating these kinds of foods helps improve concentration, keep you feeling full longer, regulate sugar levels, and a bunch of other good things. 

Examples of "slow carbs" are whole grain breads and crackers, potatoes with their skin, beans & legumes, brown rice, oats, and whole grain pasta.

Anyways, in the past week or so Ive been eating foods with these concepts in mind. Some foods that Ive had have been plain oatmeal with dried cranberries and almonds,  potatoes mixed up with corn, lentils and diced tomatoes, whole grain wheat thins, and brown rice and beans with chicken. This does not necessarily differ a whole lot from what I usually eat, but Ive been more conscious of choosing whole grains instead of anything refined or with empty carbs.

 It has been an interesting experiment and I do feel like eating these kinds of foods has kept me full for longer amounts of time, I feel more awake and energized, and even healthier. By no means do I have the medical training to tell you anything more in depth, but I felt like I should share this brief overview. If you have any other questions, or would like to explore this more, I have some really helpful links below.

Do you think your diet is full of quick or slow release foods?
Have you heard of this concept before?


Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

I've heard of the concept though maybe not with that title. Last summer when I cut out most sugar and processed stuff and ate lots of veggies and fruits I felt tons better and dropped 15 pounds. (I was also exercising 30 minutes 3-4 times a week.) Thanks for reminding me that I need to get back to that kind of eating.

WanderingAlissa said...

Glad you can relate!!!!