Maida, or refined wheat flour, is a widely consumed ingredient in Indian cuisine and an essential part of many dishes like bread, biscuits, pastries, and snacks. Its versatility and soft texture make it a popular choice for various recipes. However, its overconsumption can be harmful to health. Maida lacks essential nutrients and dietary fibre, leading to empty calorie intake, which can contribute to weight gain and related health issues.
So, should you completely eliminate maida from your diet? And, what can possibly happen to your body when you give it up for a month, to begin with? We reached out to experts to know more.
According to Nupuur Patil, a nutritionist, when you completely give up maida for a month, several changes can potentially occur in your body:
*Improved digestion: Refined flour is often low in fibre and nutrients, making it harder to digest. Giving it up can lead to improved digestion and reduced bloating. Alternatives like whole wheat flour, almond flour, coconut flour, and millet flour (jowar, bajra, ragi, etc.) are higher in fibre, which aids in digestion.
*Steadier blood sugar levels: Refined flour is rapidly converted into glucose in the body, leading to spikes in blood sugar levels. Eliminating it can help stabilise blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of insulin resistance.
*Weight management: Refined flour products tend to be calorie-dense and can contribute to weight gain. Cutting them out may lead to weight loss or better weight management. Millet flour, for example, is high in fibre and can help promote a feeling of fullness, aiding in weight loss.
*Increased nutrient intake: By replacing refined flour with whole grains like millet (jowar, bajra, ragi, etc.) and other healthier alternatives, you’ll likely consume more essential nutrients, such as fibre, vitamins, and minerals.
*Improved energy levels: Whole grains and alternatives to refined flour can provide sustained energy release, reducing energy crashes often associated with consuming refined carbs.
*Reduced inflammation: Refined flour can contribute to inflammation in the body, while a diet rich in whole foods, including millet, may help reduce overall inflammation.
But, is it really recommended to completely remove maida from your diet? It’s generally a good idea to reduce or limit your consumption of refined flour (maida) for overall health, Dr Srikant Mohta, consultant, medical gastroenterology, Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Howrah said. “Completely giving it up for a month can offer several benefits, such as improved digestion, better blood sugar management, and potential weight loss. Refined flour lacks nutrients and is often linked to inflammation and negative health effects,” he said.
However, Dr Mohta added that it is essential to ensure that you are still getting a balanced diet with sufficient nutrients from other sources during this month. “If you decide to eliminate refined flour, make sure to incorporate whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and healthy fats into your meals,” he said.
Further, there are several healthier alternatives to refined flour that you can incorporate into your diet. “Whole wheat flour is a common substitute that retains more nutrients and fibre. Other options include gram flour, corn flour, and oats flour, which can add unique flavours and textures to your dishes. Quinoa, brown rice, and sweet potato are excellent sources of carbohydrates that provide more nutrients than refined flour,” Dr Mohta.
Maida, as we know, is commonly used for baking purposes. Alternatively, you can experiment with chickpea flour, flaxseed meal, and banana or applesauce as binding agents. “These alternatives offer a range of nutritional benefits and can be used in various recipes to promote better overall health. Remember to consult a healthcare professional or nutritionist before making significant dietary changes,” he said.
Patil also suggested replacing maida with almond flour, coconut flour, oat flour, quinoa flour, chickpea flour, millet flour, or brown rice flour. “Remember that each alternative has its unique characteristics and may require adjustments in recipes. Incorporating a variety of these alternatives into your diet can offer a wide range of nutrients and flavours while reducing your reliance on refined flour,” she concluded.