To Slay the Sacred Carbs- White Rice

After Health Minister Gan declared war on diabetes, with a disease burden already costing S$1 billion in  dollars in 2010 and having a statistically grim trajectory from the current 400,000 to 600,000 T2D by 2030, Health Promotion Board Chief Executive Zee Yong Kang boldly led the charge by firing the first salvo via a feature article pen by Straits Times Senior Health Correspondent Salma Khalik rightly declaring that a bowl of rice has higher carbs content than two cans of coke…

This evoked emotional knee jerked responses from a number of local bloggers

including local celebrity (my favorite) food curator Mr KF Seeto who unfortunately also saw it as an assault on our cultural heritage…”Moderation and knowledge is the key message”

Tragically “moderation”, “eat less move more” has failed miserably world wide over the last two to three decades when it comes to arresting, much less reverse the tidal wave of T2D epidemic. Tragic because much of this  needless, excessive carbs consumption can be avoided and overcome. In reality, high carbs white rice centric cultures like China, India and Japan have not been spared and are already the epicenter of this T2D epidemic, even from statistics taken in 2010.

Noting the vocal objections, Salma continues to stoutly defend her article with an opinion piece explaining in greater details why the sacred carbs- White Rice has been singled out by HPB.

Namely “Yes, sweet drinks and junk food are bad, and no one, least of all the HPB, is denying this. What it is saying, though, is that white rice is also a major culprit – largely because it is a staple, so more of it is eaten.”

“The 2010 National Nutrition Survey found a typical serving of rice here was 250g, and that a third of Singaporeans’ daily intake of calories comes from rice – compared to 3.5 per cent from sugary drinks.”

With 3 high carbs meal a day not counting snacks…that easily means a shocking 500g or more of carbs daily. Way more then our body has been designed to tolerate and no wonder that more have become carbs challenged at a younger age, 3 in 10 before 40 years old.

And a further Q&A

Pointing out the seriousness and urgency of the condition in SG

“Sugar blocks the flow of blood, especially in the small vessels. This makes it hard for blood to get to the organs. Over time, it can lead to damage to the eyes, heart, nerves, feet and kidneys.

This is why diabetes is the top cause of kidney failure here, a major reason people go blind, and accounts for two amputations a day because injuries – especially to extremities like fingers and toes – do not heal properly and can become gangrenous.”

It is early days yet in this war on diabetes and in a society where carbs are staple and even considered sacred by many, much challenges lies ahead. To slay the sacred carbs is only the beginning. I certainly hope that HPB and the various Health organization in Singapore will continue to have the courage and boldness to forge ahead with increasing carbs awareness and building a carbs-lite environment. Not only recognizing the damages of excessive carbs intake, but also be able to leverage on the benefits of dietary fats and intermittent fasting in this war against diabetes.

Much lessons can be glean from leading Swedish low carb site Diet Doctor , Canadian nephrologist turn obesity/T2D specialist Dr Jason Fung’s and  NewCastle University’s ground breaking and successful T2D reversal program led by Dr Roy Tayor to name a few.

They have demonstrated that for many, T2D is easily managed and some complications reversible thru carbs/calorie reduction and intermittent fasting which moderate and normalize both insulin AND glucose level.

The conventional low fats high carbs dietary guidelines has already robbed the health of a generation of us. If we hesitate to slay the sacred carbs with the “blunt dogmatic sword of approach advice” and overcome our misguided fear of dietary fats and hunger, another generation may lay blind, crippled and slain much sooner than we expect.

Reference articles:-



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