Low carb diets are everywhere. People are watching their carbohydrate intake as they did with fats a decade ago. Is it the same in Japan?
Well, carbohydrates play significant roles in traditional Japanese cooking. We always have rice. Rice and miso soup are in every meal, and for many years they were the main dishes with a small plate of pickles; we didn’t have many side dishes. If you were hungry, you just ate more bowls of rice. Pickles were there to help you eat rice, and therefore 70% of our diet consisted of rice. Yes, I would say a Japanese diet is a high carb diet.
However, I hear talks of restricting carb intake a lot recently and low carb diets are certainly drawing attention in Japan, as well.
There are many books that suggest low carb diets, and this book is one of them. It was a bestseller last year, and 600000 copies were sold. It is called A Diet Recommended by a Doctor written by a doctor called Zenji Makita who specializes in diabetes. He has seen over 20000 patients, and he concludes that 90% of the cause is in our blood sugar level.
Carbs themselves don’t give us any damage, but when they are broken down to sugar, it does. What we need is try not to increase our blood sugar level, he says.
In other words, we need to avoid sugar. He gives us types of sugar we should avoid in order.
The worst group: Soft drinks including canned coffee
The second worst group: Sweets which contain white sugar
The third worst group: Fruit
The fourth worst group: White rice, white bread, noodles made by white flour
The fifth worst group: Brown rice, wholewheat bread, potatoes
Therefore carbs aren’t always bad; they are better than soft drinks, sweets, and fruit, and brown rice and wholewheat bread are better than white rice and white bread.
That means if you are on a raw food diet and eating a lot of fruit instead of grains, you are getting more sugar. He even says that liquid is the worst form of taking sugar because you don’t have to chew at all when you drink it. Even though you drink 100% fruit juice, which is thought to be healthy, you are getting sugar in the way to increase your blood sugar level.
Does it mean we don’t need to worry too much about eating rice and bread?
Yes, we do, he says. Even the best group of sugar such as brown rice and wholewheat bread, we should limit to a moderate amount.
And yet, he says, it depends on how you eat them or in what order you eat them. I’ll talk about it more tomorrow.