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Sugar: Good, Bad and the Ugly

For health reasons substantiated by clinical, medical, empirical and even moral evidence, I always stress the importance of avoiding refined sugar in the diet, including primarily, sucrose and corn syrup. AKA "white death", refined table sugar consumed daily in copious amounts destroys insulin metabolism, impairs endocrine function, inhibits ascorbic acid absorption from the blood into cells and essentially ruins children.

Obesity, diabetes and thousands of daily cardiac events, now as common as sliced cheese, are related in whole or part to the consumption of this isolated, sterile, refined, dead empty calorie. A nation of addicts it seems we are.

There is plenty of naturally occurring sugar available in organic fruits, vegetables and whole, sprouted grains. There are endless amounts of non-refined sugar contained in yams, sweet potatoes, brown rice, millet, oats, quinoa, amaranth, peas, lentils and legumes. Biological gasoline is what I call it. Engine fuel.

A fact not commonly known is that carbohydrates are not essential to humans. That's right. Humans can survive quite well without ever eating a single carbohydrate..ever. For this we can thank Mother Nature, genetic mutation, natural selection and our innate ability to adapt. Homo sapiens are incredibly adaptable. That's why we're still here.

Humans can convert lactic acid and amino acids derived from tissue protein to glucose (blood sugar) through a process called gluconeogenesis, as well as glycerol, the backbone of triglycerides (true fats). This is how our hunting ancestors survived for long periods solely on walrus, seal, buffalo, antelope, elk and whatever else they could spear, run off cliffs or pound on the head with a club.

I'm an Alberta boy and always enjoy a visit to Heads Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Fort McCleod. Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is known around the world as a remarkable testimony of prehistoric life. It bears witness to a custom practiced by native people of the North American plains for nearly 6000 years. In was in this place where they killed bison for food by chasing them over a precipice and subsequently carving up the carcasses in the camp below. Nothing was wasted. The practice of hunting and gathering, unlike modern agriculture, is ecologically sound and doesn’t destroy the environment.

Speaking of no carbs, not all carbohydrates are bad, but regarding the ones that are, they really are. But as bad as bad can be, the good ones, including such examples as fresh organic greens, yams, berries, radishes and celery sticks, are equally as good in contrast.

So good carbs are "good" and bad carbs are "bad". Why then does this no brainer message remain completely unknown and untold to millions of children in the public education system? How many lives could be saved if children were told that eating most commercial breakfast cereals actually rots their little bodies from the inside out. Will the truth ever catch up with the politics?

Max Planck, founder of the quantum theory and one of the most important physicists of the twentieth century said, "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."

And so it goes. Millions continue to feed on sugar like flies and die either prematurely or suffer a terrible slow death in diapers. Rotting slowly over time from the inside out is a terrible way to die. I would prefer rather to hit the wall hard and fast with a huge explosion. Maybe that's what the Big Bang is all about.

One member of the sugar family that is actually good for all of us to take, especially as a dietary supplement, is D-Ribose. Ribose is a naturally occurring five-carbon (pentose) sugar. It is found in all living cells and on average, our bodies contain about 1.6 mg of ribose per 100 ml of blood. Ribose is classified as a carbohydrate, and like most carbohydrates, it has a potential energy value of 4 calories per gram.

In humans, ribose is synthesized from glucose and can also be used to make glucose. Ribose is a constituent of riboflavin (vitamin B2), which helps our cells to utilize oxygen. B2 is water-soluble and contributes to good vision and healthy hair, skin and nails. Riboflavin is the vitamin responsible for the yellow-green fluorescent glow or hue commonly seen in urine after taking a B-complex supplement.

Ribose also plays a structural role in the formation of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA). How important are these? Nucleic acids are large organic molecules located in the nucleus or central portion of each cell.

DNA forms the genetic code inside each cell and contains the master blueprint of our hereditary characteristics. RNA translates instructions from the blueprint or template of DNA for transcription into proteins. Our cells are said to be mini-protein factories.

Perhaps the greatest and most important role of ribose to the athlete and fitness minded individual is its contribution to the formation of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). ATP is the primary energy source for all muscle contraction. Without ribose our cells couldn't manufacture it. So to fully appreciate the significance of ribose, one must first understand the importance of ATP, a special nucleotide considered indispensable to life.

In supplement form, ribose not only helps top up ATP levels throughout the entire body, it also reduces the time it takes to restore ATP back to normal resting levels after intense exercise. This is great news for every athlete engaged in training and sport, because efficient recovery is the hallmark of excellent health and good physical condition. Case studies also attribute the use of ribose as a successful treatment for muscle cramping and the elimination of severe stiffness, pain and muscle soreness experienced in response to physical exertion.

Anyone working long hours under constant mental stress, day-in and day-out, becomes prone to infection, chronic fatigue, adrenal burnout and cardiovascular disease. With prevention in mind, health products like ribose, creatine, glutamine, spirulina and whey protein isolate can play a key role, especially for baby boomers (born after 1946 and before 1964) and seniors, who can no longer rely on the resilience and coping mechanisms associated with youth.

Ribose is well known in the field of cardiology and has a profound medical application. Ribose improves heart function in patients with heart disease and improves recovery after surgery. It helps the heart and muscles make energy when oxygen is scarce, as in coronary artery disease or conditions associated with diminished blood flow (ischemia). So if you have angina, heart or artery disease, and have been advised by a physician to exercise on a treadmill or walk daily (or else) you should definitely consider the Ribose Advantage.

Taking ribose both before and after an ischemic event such as strenuous exercise will increase the benefit. Suggested dosage guidelines are 2 grams one-half to one hour before exercise and 2 grams after physical activity. Shake'n'Take my friends. Take ribose everyday to keep cellular ATP levels at their highest and use this natural energy primer to protect your aging heart from damage.

Bottom line. Avoid sucrose. Eat buffalo. Take ribose.

As always, stay well and live free... CH

The Cory Holly Institute (CHI) provides students and members everywhere with the most comprehensive and reliable sports nutrition education in the world. Visit CoryHolly.com.