Jet Fuel For The Body

Our cells, all of them, need a steady, even, supply of glucose, or what is called blood sugar, to keep us going. The best way to get this from our foods is in the form or carbohydrates, which is the part of food primarily for energy.

If our body can get what it wants to be at its best, we need about 65 to75 per cent of our diet to consist of primarily complex carbohydrates from unrefined foods.

Carbohydrates are classed in two categories, ‘Simple’ and ‘Complex”: Complex carbohydrates are the starches in foods, simple CHO (symbol for Carbohydrates, carbon, hydrogen and oxygen) are the sugars. Remember, our body wants a steady level of glucose in the blood. The blood sugar level is critical for life and health, if it is too low the brain shuts down, if it is too high it destroys the blood vessels and vital organs. The body is happiest when we have a constant stream of glucose being added to the blood, like your car needs a steady stream of petrol, if you dump a bucket full all at once, it floods and dies.

The best way that we can do this is by making the bulk of our diet complex CHO. Whole grains, pulses (beans or legumes) and fruits and vegetables are the best sources. Animal products have no complex CHO, our bodies have to take the protein and fat and turn it into glucose for us. This puts a terrific burden on our system, upsets our blood chemistry which leads to heart and blood vessel disease as well as being very hard on the kidneys and liver. One huge health problem that is just starting to become evident in western cultures is what is being called non-alcohol related liver disease, caused from the high fat and high sugar diet that we have been eating. Along with this, when we eat natural foods that are high in the complex CHO, we are also getting natural fibre, a very important food element essential for the best health. Also, we are getting the right amounts of natural fats, and the very important micro nutrients-- vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals.

This kind of diet stabilizes our blood chemistry and helps our body keep it’s normal weight. Without getting too involved, we can say that by using natural foods high in complex CHO as the bases for our diet we are:

  • Giving our body what it wants for its energy needs
  • Allowing ourselves to eat the quantity of food we need to feel full, without getting too many calories that will just go to fat!
  • Giving our body the natural mix of micro nutrients that it needs to maintain a strong immune system and run the most effectively.
  • Giving our body the natural food fibre it needs to keep the digestive system moving and carry the destructive things out of the system quickly and efficiently.
When we eat foods in their natural state, we are getting a package of blended nutrients that provide what our bodies are looking for. When man gets into the picture and starts refining the foods, vital nutrients are taken out and we are left with what are often chemical agents, that we then use as foods: Processed oils, refined sugars, refined flour, etc.

When we eat too much sugar and fat a number of things happen to our blood chemistry: Too much sugar all at once causes our body to have to secrete loads of insulin to get our cells to take up this excess sugar. This causes chemical imbalances and there are high spikes and low dips in our blood sugar. The excess sugar that cannot be burned has to be turned into fat, which the body then has to deal with.

What is seen as fat on the outside is only the tip of the iceberg! What it is doing to our blood is a huge issue, as we have talked about in previous 'Heath Tips'. Along with this, when there is too much sugar in the blood it causes what is called Glycosylation, where the red blood cells become larger and stiffer, and these cells have a life of about 120 days. When you remember that the red blood cells have to fit into the capillaries one by one, you can begin to understand how this affects what is happening in places like the brain. Too much sugar in the blood makes it thick, thus hindering the circulation. When there is too much fat in the blood, it clogs up the receptor sites on the cells, making it hard for the body to take up the excess glucose.

As this continues it develops into type 2 diabetes. Many people with type 2 diabetes have had their health restored by changing their diet and lifestyle! Our bodies are wonderful at doing what they need to do to live with what we give them, but they can do it so much better if we will cooperate with what they want and need!

Diet for Athletic Endurance
The endurance factor of the muscles depends on the nutritive support for the muscle-more than anything else on the amount of glycogen that has been stored in the muscle prior to the period of exercise. A person on a high carbohydrate diet stores far more glycogen in muscles than a person on either a mixed diet or a high fat diet. Therefore, endurance is greatly enhanced by a high carbohydrate diet.
(see http://www.womenfitness.net/athleticendurance.htm )

For events that require heavy work for more than 90 minutes, a high-carbohydrate diet eaten for two to three days before the event allows glycogen storage spaces to be filled. Long distance runners, cyclists, cross-country skiers, canoe racers, swimmers and soccer players report benefits from a precompetition diet where 70 percent of the calories comes from carbohydrates. According to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, endurance athletes on a high-carbohydrate diet can exercise longer than athletes eating a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet. (see http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/foodnut/09362.html)

There are all kinds of fad diets, but over time the diet that provides a high percentage of complex CHO has proven not only to enhance endurance and strength, but help prevent heart and blood vessel disease, type 2 diabetes, cancers, liver and kidney disease and overweight. What you eat affects the way your body looks, feels and preforms!

The more unrefined grain products, fruits, vegetables and nuts and seeds that we can get into our diet, the more our bodies will like it!

For more information:

http://www.emeraldhef-ie.org

See also:

 http://www.hse.ie/eng/services/healthpromotion/