MUSKEGON, Mich. (WZZM) -- How you eat throughout the day can have an effect on how you think, how much energy you have and even how well you perform simple tasks.
To prove the importance of eating a balanced meal, WZZM 13 health reporter Valerie Lego put three subjects through five days of fasting and eating.
Jeanette Waite, a nutritionist with Mercy Health Muskegon, says what you eat can make a big difference when it comes to your heart. "When you are having these spikes in the blood sugar when you are releasing so much insulin and insulin causes that plaque formation."
Waite offered to help illustrate the importance of eating a healthy diet which keeps your blood sugar at a consistent level. "Probably one of my biggest pet peeves is that people think a single food is the answer to good health. It's not; you have to have a team approach. You have to have the right combination."
Enter our three test subjects, Kelly English, Deb Skinner and Rick Hyatt. All three of them took their fasting blood sugars each morning for five days followed by a breakfast provided by Waite.
The first day's breakfast consisted of half a cup of carrots. Here's how their blood sugar numbers stacked up two hours after they ate:
Kelly went from 102 to 94.
Deb at 92 dropped to 86.
Rick's rose from 97 to 102.
But Rick's blood sugar plummeted after nearly four hours of not eating leaving him lightheaded and shaky. "I had dropped to 68 and I was ready for lunch." Rick was experiencing low blood sugar. Normal levels are between 70 and 99.
Day two's breakfast consisted of three slices of whole wheat bread. The equivalent of one large bagel. "I was instantly full and had that heavy feeling because of all the fiber and carbo load."
Deb Skinner says she even thinks the bread helped with her tennis match. "It gave me a little more energy on the tennis court." It probably did because Deb's blood sugar level after eating the bread was at 109, a little on the high side.
Kelly came in at 110 and Rick at 105.
Waite says the high fiber content was allowing the carbohydrate to be slowly digested. "It sustained them longer and because there was fiber it was released slower and kind of maintained them throughout the morning and did not spike their blood sugar."
Day three's breakfast was half a cup of full fat ice cream, "It was like that immediate sugar rush and then ran out of steam two hours later." Rick's blood sugar came in at 86 Kelly's at 88 and Deb's was unchanged at 97.
Day four's breakfast was probably the hardest to get down: half a cup of carrots and half a cup of the ice cream, Kelly felt the affect, "I think today I'm the hungriest that I've been."
Kelly's hunger pains are explained by her low blood sugar at just 74, Deb's was 95 and Rick's was 75.
"I think what we found is that it's not just the carbohydrate but the source of the carbohydrate." says Waite.
Which brings us to day five, a balanced meal of a dry turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread, with a half a cup of carrot sticks and dip and a half a cup of ice cream, a balance of protein fat and carbohydrates.
Deb's blood sugar two hours after eating was 106, Kelly's 79 and Rick's 106.
"Everyone's metabolism is a little bit different so everyone's affect on food on carbohydrate on glycemic index is different," says Waite. This short experiment definitely proved that.
Which is why it's important to know that having spikes in blood sugar every day for ten or 20 years can eventually lead to heart disease.
Those spikes raise your blood pressure and heart rate and interfere with the function of your blood vessels.
Finding your healthy blood sugar level is one way to have a healthy heart.
Jeanette Waite with Mercy Health Muskegon based our experiment on Harvard University's study on the glycemic index.