Going Green – Fuel Efficiency for the Body

October 6, 2011 | by

Jamie Scholz, MS

We are born as fuel-efficient vehicles. Then, we eat sugar. Sugar is metabolic suicide that in excess leads to diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and premature death. So, what is sugar?

Simply stated, Carbohydrates are sugars. Monosaccharides are one-sugar molecules such as glucose and fructose, disaccharides are two sugar molecules such as sucrose or table sugar, and polysaccharides are made of many sugars. There are two types of polysaccharides: indigestible and digestible. Indigestible polysaccharides are dietary fiber (both soluble and insoluble). Digestible polysaccharides are made of many sugars and are commonly known as starches (potatoes, flour, rice, and corn).

When sugar is ingested into the body it is stored as glycogen in the muscles or the liver… unless the liver glycogen stores are full. Then you are left with high levels of circulating blood sugar. Excess carbohydrates are converted to a short-chain saturated fat that leads to increased levels of modified LDL levels in your blood (vLDL) that increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Our bodies are controlled by hormonal communication. When you eat the pancreas is stimulated to secrete insulin that tells your body how to store the nutrients. The amount of insulin that is released increases as the amount of sugar ingested increases. Your body adapts to your eating behavior, therefore if you are chronically relying on breads, chips, sodas, crackers, etc. then your body becomes accustomed to having higher amounts of circulating blood sugar and becomes accustomed to utilizing that sugar for energy instead of your stored fats for energy. This lifestyle ultimately leads to excessive cravings, lack of satiety from eating, fluctuating energy levels, weight gain, and increased abdominal fat.

Are you ready for this? Carbohydrates are the main source of fuel for your body; you need carbohydrates like you need water. The key is choosing the best carbohydrates. Regardless of your parents knowledge of human physiology, they were right.  You need to eat your fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are natural, nutrient dense, and energy rich carbohydrates. Pairing these with a serving of protein or fat will help slow the entry of the sugar into the blood stream decreasing the hormonal impact. A few ounces of cheese with an orange will provide you with more sustained energy than a handful (or entire bag) of potato chips.

Consider the progression and prevalence of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and obesity.  Do you see a correlation to the prevalence of disease and the availability of processed foods?  Our ancestors grew up eating land/farm to table – our children, package to table.  Put the package down.

You wouldn’t put diesel in your Prius, so stop putting it in your mouth. Investing in a fuel-efficient vehicle comes with a sticker price but saves you in future fuel costs. Going green for your health and investing in organic, natural, nutrient dense fruits and vegetables over processed foods will result in future health care expense savings. Now that is return on investment.