An article published by myinfo.com.gh which was attributed to one Medical Practitioner who specializes as a dietician, Dr. Ibrahim Osman, says it is dangerous to eat fufu after 4 pm. According to Dr. Osman, fufu takes a long time to digest and therefore needs to be consumed earlier before bedtime. Speaking to Daakyehene Ofosu Agyeman on TV XYZ a program dubbed My Lawyer My Counselor Dr. Osman added that it is best to eat light food before going to bed.
MY TAKE ON THIS SUBJECT
The issue of whether heavy foods can be eaten after 4 pm is a subject of debate. This has led many dieticians and health experts to recommend light foods to clients. This old notion has become the norm. In this article, there are two main issues for analysis. Can heavy food such as fufu and other local diets be eaten after 4 pm? Are heavy foods such as fufu bad for our health as compared to light foods at night? What is the scientific justification for this subject?
The old argument
The old norm is that heavy foods such as fufu do not digest early whilst light foods such as white rice and many others digest early. Thus, light food such as rice and cohort can be eaten after 4 pm. But which is healthier? Fufu at 4 pm or white rice and others at 4 pm?
Digestion of fufu
According to Dr. Osman, fufu takes a long time to digest and therefore needs to be consumed earlier before bedtime. Does fufu digest? No! I know this article will raise several eyes browns. But what is the literature saying about the digestibility of fufu which is based on cassava and plantain? The whole argument supporting this is that fufu is a starchy food. Therefore, starchy foods are bad. The hard truth is that the starch content in fufu is resistant starch. What are resistant starch and its clinical significance?
DEMYSTIFYING THE MYTH: WHY RESISTANT STARCH FOOD IS GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH
Being a Professor of Naturopathy with an interest in African Naturopathy, especially in the Ghanaian context, I found something interesting throughout my research on our local foods. What I found is that our local diets are highly nutritious and beneficial to our health. But it appears we have succeeded in demeaning them at the expense of foreign foods. We have shifted our studies to the negative aspects of our local foods and praising foreign delicacies. Our scientific community and medical professionals appear to buy into some of this brainwashing without conducting studies to ascertain the facts. This keeps me thinking and worrying.
Besides, any food that takes a longer time to break down the glucose and fructose to be absorbed by the blood is truly healthy. While light food such as white rice takes less than an hour to break down, fufu takes more than six hours as propagated. Rice only takes 45 minutes to be absorbed by the blood, thus increasing the risk of diabetes.
Let me state that: It is nothing but a food conspiracy by the industries that want to sell these products with the healthy label. Many nutritionists even claim that chocolate and non-veg food cause most health issues, but that also is not entirely true.
The problem lies in the staples, not the accompaniments. For decades, we have been eating the wrong staples. It is high time people see that and eat their local healthy foods like fufu and kokonte.
NOT ALL STARCHES ARE CREATED EQUALLY
Fufu is made from a combination of cassava and green plantain. Cassava and green plantain are in type 2 of the resistant starch group. Take this clue: Type 2 starches are indigestible because they are compact, which makes it hard for digestive enzymes to break them down. I get surprised when people say fufu digest. It is therefore erroneous to say the fufu digest. Additionally, if fufu takes a longer time to digest; it is rather good for our health and not the other way. Let me explain why. What we forget to know is that not all starch is created equally. In one article by Links, R(2018), the author explained that resistant starch, for example, is a beneficial type of starch that can have a multitude of positive effects on health. Links, R(2018) further explained that resistant starch diets such as fufu support weight loss and blood sugar control. This article aims to espouse the scientific benefits of eating local foods loaded with resistant starch such as fufu. It also aims to bring to the public domain the importance of resistant starch and ultimately to educate the public that not all starch foods are bad as had been advocated for years.
HISTORY, RESISTANT STARCH
Links, R(2018) in one of her articles explained that the ideal surrounding resistant starch emanated from the 1970s and hence has been regarded or considered to be one of the three major types of starch, including the already known digested starch and slowly digested starch. Hence, the idea surrounding resistant starch is relatively new as nutrition advocates have supported the consumption of whole grains and legumes as part of staple ingredients in a healthy, well-rounded diet. For instance, The Commission of the European Communities, the organization responsible for policy-making for the European Union, began funding and supporting research on resistant starch in 1996, and a review entitled “Nutritional Implications of Resistant Starch” was published in Nutrition Research Reviews, this review brought the concept and definition of what constitutes resistant starch and the mechanism of action. This also paved the way for recent studies on resistant starch by many researchers on the health benefits of this health-promoting compound, which led to the discovery that resistant starch consumption stabilizes blood sugar, and promotes digestive health and weight loss.
WHAT IS RESISTANT STARCH?
Link, R(2018) article defined resistant starch as a type of starch that isn’t completely broken down and absorbed in the stomach or small intestine. Instead, it passes through to the colon and is converted into short-chain fatty acids, which act as prebiotics to help feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut. Another unique thing about resistant starch is that it is processed and metabolized the same way as dietary fiber, which comes with many health benefits. Due to this; studies consider it diabetic friendly, aids satiety, and aids digestive health. Web med also defined resistant starch as a type of carbohydrate that doesn’t get digested in your small intestine. Instead, it ferments in your large intestine and feeds beneficial gut bacteria.
To be continued
BY PROF. RAPHAEL NYARKOTEY OBU