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A geneticist says this simple test could show how many carbs you should be eating

Business Insider logoBusiness Insider 11/06/2018 Rosie Fitzmaurice

spaghetti carbonara © Provided by Business Insider spaghetti carbonara
  • Geneticist Dr Sharon Moalam has a theory that you can determine a person's ability to digest carbs using 'the cracker test.'
  • Doctor and self-professed carb-lover Xand van Tulleken put it to the test in a new BBC documentary.
  • According to the theory, some people can handle more carbs in their diet than others, and it's all down to the enzymes in your mouth.
  • It's still early days, but the test demonstrates how varied our carb tolerance is.

Carbs are getting a lot of airtime, and new research is constantly turning what we have believed about them for years on its head.

Recently, studies have told us it might be better to eat carbs at night than in the morning, and that eating pasta regularly in a diet could actually aid weight loss.

It's a confusing time to be a pasta or pizza lover.

So, how many carbs should you be eating?

© Provided by Shutterstock According to geneticist Dr Sharon Moalam's research, "the cracker test" can help you to discover how well your body digests carbs, and therefore give an indication of your carb tolerance.

And in a new BBC documentary titled "The Truth about Carbs," doctor and self-confessed carb-lover Xand van Tulleken said: "The truth is that some of you can eat as many carbs as you like, while others have to watch it," adding that he considers himself to be in the latter category — he once weighed 19 stone (266 pounds).

Van Tulleken put Dr Moalam's cracker test into practice with a group of students.

Each member of the group was instructed to chew an unsalted cracker for 30 seconds. He asked each of them to raise their hand when the flavour of the cracker began to change — if, say, it started to taste sweeter or of some other flavour.

The student who noticed a change in taste in the shortest time raised their hand after 17 seconds, another did not raise their hand until after 35 seconds, and some did not notice any change in flavour at all.

"17 seconds is quite fast," said van Tulleken, adding that according to Dr Moalam's research, "this suggests you have a high concentration of amylase enzymes in your mouth which are chopping up the big starch molecules into smaller molecules of sugar or sugar-like molecules that you can taste.

"That means that you should be able to eat a lot of carbs without having any problems."

Related: 15 'healthy' foods with high levels of sugar (provided by The Active Times)

But for those who noticed a change much slower, he explained that, according to Dr Moalam's theory, it might mean that they should watch their carb intake. While they can eat carbs, they can't "go to town" in the same way that those who observed a change in the shortest time probably can.

Finally, for those who didn’t notice a change of taste at all, the theory suggests that that is because they have a low concentration of these enzymes in their mouths, which van Tulleken summarises could mean that they "might struggle eating carbs."

Generally speaking, he explained that when trying this test at home, if you don't notice a change after 30 seconds, this could mean that, like him, you have a lower tolerance to carbs, and you might want to ease off the white and beige variety.

He added that while it's still early days with Dr Moalam's research, "the cracker test demonstrates just how varied our carb tolerance is."

Moalam's cracker test was revealed in his 2016 book "The DNA Restart: Unlock Your Personal Genetic Code to Eat for Your Genes, Lose Weight, and Reverse Aging."


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