Why Are We Fat? Thinking About Sugar and Fiber ... Plus a Healthy Eating Expo This Weekend

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Farro Salad With Edamame
  • Photo: Emily B. Hall for SouthComm
  • Farro Salad With Edamame
In the most recent installment of her column, The Eating Life, Nicki Wood writes about the underlying causes of the obesity epidemic. She cites a number of very interesting and thought-provoking facts from Fat Chance, a book released last year by pediatric endocrinologist Robert Lustig.

Her entire article is worth a read, but this one particular section gleaned from Lustig's research stood out to me:

Nonsoluble fiber (like celery strings) forms a mesh in the gut. Soluble fiber sticks to this mesh, and the combination slows the “rate of flux from the intestine to the bloodstream,” preventing starch or sugar from overwhelming the liver. But if the soluble-fiber food is pulverized (like blueberries in a smoothie) the fiber content is destroyed. So the second part of the latticework isn’t there, and any sugar in the meal hits the bloodstream quickly.

Even more simply: You’re much better off — as in, you’ll feel more satisfied and your body will work more efficiently and effectively — if you eat your fruit whole instead of throwing it into a smoothie. Intuitively, this does make sense. Your body (instead of your blender) is working to break down all that fiber. Meanwhile, the sugar is trapped — at least detained — within the fiber instead of going immediately into your bloodstream.

This is, of course, not news to proponents of whole foods, but this is a more literal translation of such than I’ve seen before. This is particularly important for children and teens, whose food sources are made up of an increasing amount of processed foods, particularly juices and flavored milks that masquerade as nutritious. Foods that turn into fat more quickly and are less nutritious overall than whole foods.

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(To reinforce the point that high-fiber foods can be tasty, Nicki even includes a recipe for Farro Salad With Edamame.)

If these issues interest you, be sure to check out the first "I AM The Engine" outreach event, including a Healthy Eating Expo this weekend at the Nashville Farmers’ Market.

I AM The Engine, a Nashville-based organization focused on promoting physical activity and healthy lifestyle choices, is holding the event from 3 to 6 p.m. this Saturday, July 20, as part of their efforts to promote a healthy lifestyle to inner-city youth and their families. Additionally, the organization is asking the public to bring outgrown and gently used bicycles, helmets, skateboards, hiking boots, backpacks, baseball mitts and other sporting gear to help young people get outdoors and active.

I AM The Engine Donation Drive and Healthy Eating Expo
3 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Saturday, July 20
Nashville Farmers' Market

For more information, visit To learn more, visit www.iamtheengine.org or www.facebook.com/iamtheengine.

And be sure to read the rest of Nicki’s article as well.

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