There are so many dietary suggestions we make during the week when we troubleshoot patient eating patterns. The most common health issue many people have today that involve better eating have something to do with elevated blood pressure, increased cholesterol, a proclivity towards pre-diabetes or having a high A1C blood value which results in a diagnosis of Type II Diabetes. There is no magic bullet that fixes any of the mentioned conditions, and the likelihood is that many aspects of lifestyle factors need to be addressed in order to prevent, manage or even reverse these conditions. Eating, stress, exercise, and sleep are the most common lifestyle influencers of acquiring many preventable diseases such as Type II Diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Genetics can also play a role in pre-disposing someone towards the mentioned diseases, but genetic expression is really where the rubber meets the road and transforms genetic pre-disposition to become a real clinical condition.
This may sound highly oversimplified, and I realize the problem of Diabetes and heart disease is more complex than what I am about to suggest. But I’m an advocate of making changes that actually matter when it comes to your health, and not just making changes that have marginal effects. This change, is none other than to STOP DRINKING ORANGE JUICE WITH YOUR BREAKFAST! Let me explain.
An 8 ounce cup or OJ contains 20-28 grams of sugar, roughly 2.5 times the sugar and one third of the fiber of the real fruit. By comparison, a real orange has about half the calories (about 60 calories vs. 112 calories), 3 grams of fiber, and vitamin C along with other enzyme cofactors from the whole fruit. But the calories isn’t the concern, but that your body ALWAYS prefers to consume carbohydrate sources of fuel before proteins and fats. What this means is that a typical breakfast of eggs, toast, bacon, butter, jelly and orange juice can and will trigger your body to immediately utilize the simple sugars from the orange juice as fuel, and halt other macronutrients (proteins and fats) from being USED as fuel but rather be STORED as fuel. This is a problem for those trying to control their body weight and affect cholesterol.
Giving the body a high carbohydrate source in any meal, and in this case, the orange juice during breakfast, has the same effect on the pancreas as any sugar source such as a candy bar. An elevated spike in blood sugar (from OJ or a candy bar) causes the organ to secrete insulin rapidly in order to stabilize the blood sugar. Most times, you go into a “food coma” after you eat because the body produced too much insulin which causes the blood sugar to be functionally low. This rapid action of the pancreas to release insulin is stressful to the organ over time, and could result in insulin resistance or low insulin production. The hormonal response of the pancreas is vital in affecting blood sugar (A1C levels) and a chain of other metabolic processes such as how soon your body can digest and metabolize body fat storage, a desirable metabolic process leading to weight loss.
The sugar component in orange juice also has a high glycemic index, making it highly absorbable and even preferential for the body to utilize immediately as fuel. Fats, proteins and
carbohydrates with a relatively lower glycemic index wind up being stored energy in the body, meaning weight gain over time.
By far, orange juice effects on insulin response and it’s ability to trigger fat storage offsets it’s nutrition benefits. If weight gain and diabetes are concerns, then orange juice with a meal is not for you, but the real fruit may be ok. Choose unsweetened tea, coffee, or just plain water. Changing your health sometimes means changing your orientation to taste and to habitual eating patterns.
Dr. Adrian Pujayana has been providing drug-free solutions for health and wellness to adults, athletes, and youth since 2000 through his private practice at Family Chiropractic Center of South Pasadena, a place for strength training and nutrition based health care.