The Uneven Health Tradeoff

Treat Thompson



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This week's issue is going to be the first one about health. To debut the health issue, I don't think there's a more important topic than refined carbohydrates.

Health is like trying to build wealth; your first step should be to stop wasting money.

Your first step in health should be to stop eating bad food. Refined carbohydrates might be the worst of them all. When we eat them, we make an uneven tradeoff - moments of taste for health.

Refined carbohydrates

A refined carbohydrate is a fruit or vegetable that has been processed to remove most of its nutrients and fibre. You're left with just carbohydrates, either sugar or starch.

What's wrong with refining them?

When we eat carbohydrates, it turns to blood sugar (glucose) in our bodies. The issue with refined carbohydrates is that they give us huge amounts of blood sugar too fast. That's because the fibre from the fruit or vegetable has been stripped.

Fibre slows down how fast we digest carbohydrates. So when we don't strip it, our blood sugar rises little by little.

This image helps visualize it:

On the left is a whole grain. It still has its fibre, vitamins, and minerals.

On the right is the whole grain after it's been refined. It is almost entirely carbohydrates.

What's wrong with quickly getting a lot of blood sugar?

When your blood sugar is very high, something called hyperglycemia happens. Hyperglycemia damages and narrows your blood vessels. Over time, this refined carbohydrate consumption can cause heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and Alzheimer's.

Thankfully our body has a system in place to handle blood sugar and avoid this. It's called insulin. Our pancreas releases insulin to take the blood sugar out of our blood and store it as fat or in our cells.

The problem is when we consistently rely on our pancreas to handle these massive loads of blood sugar, it wears down. When it's worn out, this is called type 2 diabetes.

Our pancreas is like tires on a car. Except we can buy new tires when they wear out. So don't burn rubber with your pancreas every day. (Too far with the car analogy?)


  1. Consistently high blood sugar will wear out your ability to manage high blood sugar. It's a vicious cycle.
  2. We need to keep our ability to manage high blood sugar. Otherwise, we risk heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, stroke and Alzheimer's.


You don't have to eliminate refined carbohydrates entirely from your life (obviously, it'd be amazing if you did). Like I said, we have a system for managing blood sugar.

The goal is not to wear down the system.

The most important thing to do is to make sure they're not a staple in your diet. After that, you can use the information you have to decide how much risk you want to live with.

Personally, I choose to have them only a few days throughout the year. Maybe once every 3 months. If you're in your 20's - like me - you probably don't care about chronic illness.

The reason I care is that the tradeoffs for a few seconds of tasty food aren't worth it to me.

This weeks quote

"Plan for the future because that's where you're going to spend the rest of your life." - Mark Twain

It's easy to make tradeoffs for today that put you at a disadvantage tomorrow. When you do that consistently, you give yourself a life that's not enjoyable.

By not eating refined carbs every day, I avoid making an unhealthy future that I don't want to live in.

Question to ask yourself

Over the last two years, do you think your health has been trending up or down?

My answer: I would say I'm definitely trending up. I've been interested in optimizing health for the past 4 years, and every year I'm learning more and changing my habits more.