It's time to fuel up. So, you pull your rig up to the pump and start filling. Any pump will do. All fuels are basically the same, right?Each makes your engine run. But, what if one fuel had other ingr...
It’s time to fuel up. So, you pull your rig up to the pump and start filling. Any pump will do. All fuels are basically the same, right?
Each makes your engine run. But, what if one fuel had other ingredients that could make your engine run AND help your truck maintain and repair itself at the same time? Just imagine – while you’re driving down the road, your fuel is helping repair broken hoses, flush filters, grease bearings. Wouldn’t that be great? If only…
Now you’ve pulled into the truck stop. You’re hungry? Any food will do, right?
Your body only needs one fuel to create the energy you need to survive – sugar (glucose). Every body cell depends on glucose for its fuel to some extent. But the cells of the brain and the rest of the nervous system depend primarily on glucose for their energy. Since your brain and nerves are always on the job, they continually use up sugar, but they can’t store it. So day and night your brain and nerve cells continually draw on the supply of glucose floating around in the fluid surrounding them. What kind of fuel are you giving them? Bargain basement or premium sugars?
Before we get into that, let’s take a minute and look at how your body uses sugars.
Every carbohydrate you eat gets converted into sugar. Your body works best if the sugar level in your blood stays constant. If your blood sugar gets too low, you become weak and dizzy. Too high, you become confused and have trouble breathing. Either situation can be fatal if you don’t get help. So your body tries to keep a steady stream of blood carrying glucose to your cells by bringing glucose from either the intestines (food) or the liver (glycogen).
You have two hormones maintaining the blood sugar levels: insulin, which moves glucose from the blood into the cells, and glucagon, which brings the glucose out of storage when you need some. Since your body can’t make its own sugar, you have to get it from food. As soon as you eat, your blood glucose rises. This makes your pancreas shoot some insulin into your blood. The insulin carries the sugar from the blood into the cells. Most cells only take the amount of sugar that they need right away, but the liver and muscles can store a bit. The liver converts some of the extra sugars as fat, making it difficult to break down and use for energy in the future. If the extra is stored as sugar, however, it can easily be used for energy in the future.
Another hormone, epinephrine (fight or flight), can also cause your liver to shoot some sugar into the bloodstream. This happens when you need some sudden energy to react quickly in emergencies. So it’s important to have some sugar available when a car cuts you off, or a moose runs out in front of you. It keeps you on your toes.
What it comes down to is this: you need sugars to create heat and energy. Fortunately, that’s not hard to swallow; we like to eat sugar because it tastes good. Did you know that North Americans eat about 45 pounds of sugar each year?
Fortunately, in moderation, sugar won’t hurt you. But there are some misconceptions about sugar’s effect on health.
I’m sure you’ve heard this statement before: “Sugar makes you fat.” Don’t blame it all on the sugar. Usually foods high in sugar are also high in fat. Because these foods taste so good we tend to eat a little more than we need. So, the combination of high fat and high sugar can cause weight gain.
Another common misconception is that sugar causes heart disease. While it’s true that unusually high doses of refined sugar can alter blood fats to cause heart disease, this condition is common mainly with people who secrete too much insulin to take care of the carbohydrates they’ve eaten (hypoglycemics). For these people, their excess sugar becomes stored as excess fats..
“Sugar causes children to misbehave (and even criminal behavior),” is another misconception. This is totally unfounded scientifically.
Now let’s get back to the low and high quality sugars. Since all carbohydrates turn into sugar in your body, does it make any difference where those carbohydrates come from? Certainly!
For example: A 16-oz. pop can add 200 calories to your daily intake, but no nutrition. Empty calories! Three slices of whole wheat bread (also 200 calories), however, will give you nine grams of protein, six grams of fibre, and several B vitamins.
So, you can get the same amount of energy from the pop or the bread, but the extra nutrients in the bread build up other parts of your body. The pop just rots your teeth. It’s your choice. Eat for quick energy today by consuming refined sugars and empty calories. Or, eat for your future by fueling up with natural sugars packaged in fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grain products.
– Karen Bowen is a professional health and nutrition consultant and she can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.