Remember during our childhood days in the 90s when we caught flu and ran to our nearby doctor, the doctor would say “Avoid your regular meal, instead strictly go for the white bread and glucose biscuits”. I hope many of you recollect these memories. Back then, white bread, biscuits were considered healthier than even rice!
Changing perception with time
Today when we reflect on this, would you think this logic still holds true? Definitely not, correct? As we travel through time, there are multiple ideas, discoveries and businesses that change our perception.
In today's world, we believe Maida is dangerous, and yes we believe that’s right for all the valid reasons. During the 1960s, bread was made by soaking the wheat, stone grinding to make the flour and then naturally fermented without the need for yeast. Sometime later, the Westerners introduced a form of grain processing that made it possible to create massive amounts of refined wheat at a low cost. They found a way to separate the nutritious components of wheat from the endosperm (a yellow form of wheat that contains most of the carbs, a.k.a MAIDA).
Westerners introduced a form of wheat named “Dwarf Wheat” that is high-yield for obvious reasons but at the same time less nutritious. This type of Wheat was genetically modified to add a protein named “gluten” that cheered farmers across the globe but triggered a cause for lifestyle problems across the globe.
The flour with no nutrition
Gradually, more nutrition was removed from the “Dwarf wheat” to create the yellow MAIDA. This flour with no nutrients was then bleached to “white colour” to make it more appealing.
With the onset of “MAIDA with gluten”, this was available at far lower prices to manufacturers, brands across the globe churned out “delicious” biscuits, cookies, cakes and what not, with this new found wheat. Consumers across the globe feasted on these delicacies that shaped up the massive bakery industry.
Adding to this, the consumers new lifestyles defined by lack of time and stress led to binge eating where gluten foods played a massive role, leading to lifestyle disorders. Food brands then started advocating falsified the logic adding statements such as “Enriched flour with added vitamins” thereby adding 3-4 vitamins at the cost 10 essential vitamins from the “good wheat”.
Now, let us review the harmful effects of Maida:
Spikes sugar level:Wheat contains Phytochemicals, fiber, B and E vitamins. When it comes to Maida, the outermost layer on wheat is removed. The inside is nothing but starch. Maida is said to be a high glycemic food that tends to get digested quickly and releases sugar into your bloodstream quickly, which causes the blood sugar levels to spike. So when you feast on your favorite brownie, the sugar rush is just not from the loaded refined sugar! As if that wasn't enough, it also causes inflammation in the body, which is unhealthy. If Maida is consumed once in a while, the Pancreas can manage it. However, in case of frequent consumption, insulin production will reduce gradually, finally making you Diabetic. As glucose loiters into your blood, it gets attached to proteins, which is called Glycation which cause inflammation in the body and leads to many diseases like Arthritis, Cataract, heart diseases which are just a portion of the list.
Caused acidity: During wheat refining process, all nutrients are removed and the food becomes acidic in nature. As per research, diet high in acidic foods (e.g. Pizza, Pasta, Burger & other white flour products) forces the body to pull calcium from bones to keep the things even, which affects bone density. Over-acidity is one of the major causes of chronic inflammation, and a major cause of arthritis and other chronic illnesses.
Reduces metabolism rate:Research has shown that the body may end up shifting nutrients into fat storage when you consume foods that are high on the glycemic index. Instead of fueling your body, foods made with refined flour slow down fat burning and actually promote fat storage. This process causes your metabolism to slow down, which can lead to weight gain.
However, manufacturers still use Maida and reap profits out of this mainly because its lighter, cheaper and requires less kneading (less cost) compared to Atta (simple unprocessed milled wheat, or whole wheat flour).
We agree that foods made from Maida are addictive, however do remember that various health complications might arise in future. Hence, we suggest a few alternatives to go “Gluten free” that will keep you away from unnecessary complications without compromising on indulgence.
Use local ingredients as much as possible or traditional foods such as ragi, jowar, rajgira, rice etc
Ensure you check the labels before you buy your bread. Few brands are smart in glorifying bad nutrition mentioning ingredients such as “Refined wheat flour” which is nothing but Maida! Avoid anything and everything that is “Refined”! Refuse to be refined! 😊
Choose whole wheat cakes, gluten free cakes made from nuts and seeds . If you wish to bake your own cake and insist on using Maida (once in a while), use 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour to 1 cup of Maida and increase the fluid content by 1 to 2 tbsp as whole wheat would absorb more moisture.
And for gluten free options use same portion of almonds or cashews to refined flour. For millet cakes use 1/2 cup of ragi along with 1/4 cup of cashews to get yummy moist cakes.
With busy schedules, it's tough to manage your own cooking or baking, so try to carry nuts and dried fruits for evening snacks to avoid samosas , cakes etc. Lets aim to bury the cult of Maida-ism and step to the new cult of “Happy-ism”.
Keep trying and every time you fail, start over again until it becomes a habit! You will be calmer, lighter and happier.
In case you need more information or recipe tips, do write to us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay happy, stay Gluten-free!