As you might know, we are kind of health nerds at Ondol with common sense, we hope. Our favourite thing is to try out new food ideas or exercises and test them before we promote them to our clients.
Our latest interest regarding food follows the recommendations by the current young hot shot, French author Jessie Inchauspe. She is a biochemist on a mission to translate cutting-edge science into easy tips to help people improve their physical and mental health. She is the author of The Glucose Revolution, a very readable and compelling book that explains the importance of stabilising our glucose levels in the blood. The evidence-based book presents in a way that is entertaining and easy to understand. We find Jessie’s tips practical and easy to integrate into any food habits and life styles without huge adjustments.
Let’s talk about glucose and what it does in the body.
Why is glucose essential?
The author explains that glucose is crucial because it affects how we feel instantaneously, and many other aspects of our health come under control once we get it under control. When our glucose levels are out of balance, we put on weight, have sugar cravings, experience mood swings, our skin can break out, and our hearts can be impacted, to name just a few health issues associated with excess glucose in circulation.
What happens when we have too much glucose?
When we take in more glucose than we need, only so much can be burned for energy or stored away in the Liver and muscles. The rest of the sugar is eventually converted into fat. That’s why we get fat from sugar. When we eat foods that spike our glucose, we deliver glucose to our cells too quickly. Too much glucose can lead to free radicals. As Jessie puts it, “free radicals are a big deal because anything they touch, they damage” (Inchauspe, p58). When there are too many free radicals, our body enters a state of oxidative stress, which can lead to:
Type 2 diabetes
Generalised inflammation in the body
What can we do to flatten our glucose curves?
Jessie outlines the ten hacks that can help us to flatten our glucose curves.
1. Eat foods in the correct order
In simple terms, fibre slows down the breakdown and absorption of glucose and flattens our glucose curves.
Eat veggies and greens first
proteins and fat second
starches and sugars last.
When you eat veggies first, the fibre in them ensures that all foods consumed afterwards travel slower through the digestive tract than they normally do. Consequently, the glucose enters the blood less in a rush, creating a smaller curve rather than a spike of glucose, which is easier to handle for the body.
2. Add a green starter to all your meals
Enjoying a salad before your meal means the fibre will have a powerful impact on glucose curves. Eating out could mean starting with a salad before the main meal.
3. Stop counting calories
It’s not about the calories. As Jessie says, “Judging a food based on its calorie content is like judging a book by its page count.” (p120). It’s about the effect the calories have on your body. The same number of calories of fructose, glucose, protein or fat have very different impacts. One hundred calories of fructose, for example, is worse for our health than 100 calories of glucose or 100 calories of protein or fat. The studies show that people who flatten their glucose curve lose more weight even with the same number of calories in their diet.
4. Flatten your breakfast curve
Cereal is a popular breakfast choice in Australia, but many are high in sugar, which creates a big glucose spike. The recommendation is to “Go Savory” for breakfast. For example, have some wilted spinach, mushrooms and tomatoes first, then an egg and a piece of toast with butter. Such a breakfast contains a good amount of protein, fibre, and fat. If you want to have fruit, have it last. The same applies to all forms of deserts. Have it after a meal rather than as a snack in between.
5. Have any sugar you like – they’re all the same
It’s important to realise that as far as our body’s metabolism is concerned, all sugars have the same impact on our bodies. Honey, brown sugar, coconut sugar – it is still glucose and fructose and will lead to the spikes we want to avoid. Jessie suggests we choose whole fruit for our sweet fixes because they also contain fibre, which flattens the glucose spike.
6. Pick dessert over a sweet snack
Concerning our metabolism, the time after we have eaten is called the post-prandial state. This is when our meals are processed, and blood rushes to our digestive system. Insulin levels, oxidative stress and inflammation all increase. When we are not in this post-prandial state, our organs are on clean-up duty, as Jessie puts it, replacing damaged cells with new ones and cleaning our systems. When we forgo sweet snacks, we keep our system out of the post-prandial state for longer, which allows time for the “clean-up”. And, after eating something sweet last, the glucose spike is flattened after the fibre, fat and protein.
7. Reach for vinegar before you eat
Adding vinegar to our diet, either a tablespoon in water or a salad dressing helps flatten our glucose curves. It slows the arrival of glucose in the bloodstream and increases the speed at which our muscles soak it up, taking it out of circulation.
8. After you eat – move
Exercise requires energy which in turn needs glucose. Even a 10-minute walk after a meal can burn glucose and flatten the glucose spike from eating. If you eat something sweet or starchy, all the more reason to move afterwards is to burn up some of that glucose and prevent it from being stored as fat.
9. If you have to snack, go savoury
We often crave a sweet snack between meals when we are low on energy. The idea that something sweet will energise us is actually false. It might briefly boost us, but soon we will crash and want more of the same. It sends us on a dangerous rollercoaster of peaks and troughs in our glucose levels. Many savoury snacks ( i.e. nuts) will give the energy we crave but in a way that sustains our energy levels much longer and without the highs and lows.
10. ‘Put some clothes on your carbs’
Eating carbs alone spikes our glucose levels and plays havoc with our hunger hormones. Have you ever felt hungry soon after eating a cake or croissant? When choosing carbs, make it a habit to add fibre, protein or fat and if possible, eat those first. For example, add avocado to toast, spread peanut or almond butter on rice cakes, or eat some almonds before your croissant. It will help to flatten the glucose spike caused by the carbs and their starches.
Following even a few of these hacks can significantly benefit our health. Start with the hacks that are easy for you to integrate in your lifestyle and food habits.
We are big believers in small steps with consistency.
If you have more questions, ask us.
We are passionate about supporting you on your health journey at Ondol Clinic. Through acupuncture, dietetics, Chinese Herbs and massage, our team of health professionals are here to provide solutions that will help you live a happier and healthier life.
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INCHAUSPE, J. (2022) Glucose revolution: the life-changing power of balancing your blood sugar. Melbourne: Penguin Life.