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Hi, pod fam! 

If you watch my IG stories regularly, then you’ve already gotten a preview of the incredible knowledge and insights this week’s equally incredible guest has to share with us. I’ve been geeking out over her infographics on metabolic health, inflammation, and glucose.

Jessie Inchauspé, aka “Glucose Goddess”, is a biochemist and now author (of the just-released and sure-to-be-bestselling book, Glucose Revolution), with A LOT to teach us about blood sugar (aka glucose). 

In this ep, we’re talking all about glucose: what causes spikes, why it’s important to regulate your glucose levels, and how glucose affects everything from sugar cravings to energy to hormones to skin health and so much more.

Aaaaaand, here’s the best part: Jessie is spilling (almost) all of her food “hacks” to help get your body back on track. These are science-backed, sustainable, EASY tips to keep your glucose levels under control—without giving up your favorite foods. You can literally have your cake and eat it, too.

Let’s get juuuuuuicy!

Starting with the basics: what is metabolic health? 

“Metabolic health is the ability of your body to process energy properly,” Jessie explains. It’s essentially the study of our glucose levels. When we eat food, our body then has some decisions to make: should we burn/use up this energy now and how/where should we store it if not?

When your body is metabolically healthy, it’s burning and storing energy at all the right times and in all the right places. You’ll feel good, have steady energy throughout the day, you sleep well and wake up feeling rested, your hormones are balanced, your skin is good, your hunger and cravings are manageable, etc… 

That all sounds great, right, but how do we actually measure metabolic health? Yes, there are clinical tests like reactive hypoglycemia tests, but we can tell a lot about our metabolic health by how we feel throughout the day or day by day. Jessie tells us that the best marker is being able to go five hours without eating. And not just that, but are you able to do this without feeling shaky, nauseated, lightheaded, anxious, irritable?

To start examining your own metabolic health, take inventory of what your body is telling you. Can you tap into those feelings and the signals it’s sending? Another good rule of thumb: if you can notice symptoms like cravings, excessive hunger, getting “hangry,” and you’re not waking up feeling great every day, it *probably* means your blood sugar is out of balance. 

Can we talk a little more about what glucose does?

So, glucose is your body’s primary source of energy. We consume food containing glucose, and it gets absorbed into the bloodstream. From there, it goes to our cells, where the mitochondria (“the powerhouse of the cell”) transforms it into ATP (energy) to fuel the body. Now, glucose isn’t the only source of energy; our bodies can also dig into our fat reserves for fuel (this is called metabolic flexibility).

Glucose also plays a direct role in regulating insulin. Insulin is a vital hormone that allows glucose to enter cells, where it can then be used for energy, in a process called glucose uptake. (There’s one exception: when you’re exercising, your body doesn’t need insulin for glucose uptake.)

Of course, we need energy, so glucose in itself is a GOOD thing, and so is insulin. BUT—like all good things (including other vital nutrients like oxygen and water)—you can have too much. So, what happens when we have too much glucose? Your body pulls an alarm: you’ll produce too much insulin to overcompensate, which causes your cells to absorb too much glucose, which overwhelms the mitochondria so they sort of shut down. 

Oh, and glucose and insulin levels aren’t just important to those with diabetes. This is something we should all be paying attention to… Each of us can have low blood sugar, high blood sugar, or blood sugar within a healthy (baseline) range. What’s arguably most important, though, is avoiding/steadying glucose spikes.

Why are glucose spikes a big problem?

Glucose spikes happen when we consume too much glucose, sending us into hyperglycemic (high blood sugar) territory. And because what goes up must come down, those spikes are often followed by a crash, aka hypoglycemic territory (low blood sugar). When this happens too often, our bodies get used to it and start to rely on those glucose spikes for energy, rather than tapping into its fat reserves for fuel. And the bigger the spike, generally, the faster you’ll become hungry again, as glucose spikes trigger ghrelin (the hunger hormone).

Another big problem with glucose spikes is that the more spikes you have, the more insulin gets released to manage them. Too much insulin doesn’t just overwhelm the glucose-to-energy process; it can also affect other hormones. It’s been shown to prevent the body from transforming androgens (male hormones) to estrogens (female hormones), which could lead to PCOS symptoms.

And, in the long run, glucose spikes can lead to faster aging (especially of the skin, by speeding up a process called glycation) and more inflammation (which can cause a wholeeeeee lot of other issues).

And now for the good news…

So, what can we do to help prevent these spikes and keep our glucose levels in balance? Cue: the Glucose Goddess “hacks.” Jessie has been digging through research and studies—focusing on those that have come out in the last 5 years—and distilling the science into “hacks.” These are scientifically backed ways to eat the stuff you love with less of an impact on your body. It’s not about dieting or elimination, but about implementing little techniques throughout your day-to-day life that will help balance your glucose levels, lessen your cravings for sugar, and improve some of the symptoms related to glucose spikes.

Before we get into these: Jessie notes that these are meant to be sustainable, and they’re not rules you have to follow with every meal, every day. Use these hacks as you see fit (a little more on this on her IG) and notice how you feel afterward. Take what helps and makes sense for you.

Hack #1: Drink a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar before a meal.

Drink a glass of water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (ACV) right before your meal to cut your glucose curve from that meal by about 40 percent. Always, always dilute with water—don’t try taking a shot of straight apple cider vinegar. Not only will it be more palatable, but it’ll be easier on your body. 

The science behind it: ACV (and other vinegars) goes to your muscles and basically tells them to become more hungry, which signals them to uptake glucose from the bloodstream and store it as glycogen ASAP. This creates less of a glucose spike because the glucose isn’t just hanging out in your bloodstream for as long. 

Hack #2: Consume veggies at the start of your meal.

Before you reach for that bread basket or slice of pizza or whatever you’re eating, have yourself a nice plate of veggies. Could be a salad, could be a plain cucumber, could be a side of roasted Brussels sprouts, etc… 

The science behind it: Veggies are rich in fiber, which coats the inside of your intestines and prevents your body from absorbing too much glucose from any food you eat afterward. It’s a protection mechanism that lets you eat the same food you were planning to eat with less of a glucose spike, less inflammation, reduced cravings, etc.

Double it up: Combine hacks 1&2 by eating a salad coated with a vinegar-based dressing (or straight-up vinegar).

Hack #3: Switch up the order in which you eat your food.

Start with your veggies, follow that with protein/fats, then eat your carbs last. 

The science behind it: Like we talked about with hack #2, veggies help slow down digestion and prevent your body from absorbing too much glucose. Protein and fats have similar effects, so you’re just strengthening your body’s defense against the glucose and fructose in carbs. You’ll still absorb some of it—which is good—just not as much, lessening the chance of a spike. Studies show eating the same exact meal in this order leads to a 45 percent decrease in glucose spikes when compared to eating carbs first.

Hack #4: Save your sweet treats for right after a meal.

Instead of having a cookie in the middle of the day on an empty stomach, save it for after a meal, when you’ve got the defense of veggies, protein, and fats to help you absorb less of the glucose from that treat.

Note: Think of your morning coffee, donut, muffin, or anything sweet as your breakfast dessert. Start with something savory and fiber-rich for breakfast and then have your coffee. You don’t want to put your body in a stressed-out situation first thing in the morning due to a glucose spike (and cortisol, if we’re talking coffee on an empty stomach).

The science behind it: See hacks #2 and #3.

Hack #5: Eat your fruit whole (stop with the juice).

When you juice a fruit, you’re discarding the fiber and some of the other nutrients that give fruit its value. This leaves you with a sugary drink that can be as bad as soda (when comparing just sugar levels). Stick with whole fruits to get the full benefits and not just a sugar rush. And because fruit today has been modified to be much sweeter than its ancient forms, Jessie recommends consuming fruit with nuts or cheese for a little bit of protein/fats to balance it out.

Note: If you love juice, treat it like your breakfast dessert and drink a glass after eating something with fiber, protein, and fats.

Hack #6: Get 10 minutes of movement after a meal.

Go for a walk, wash the dishes, fold some laundry, dance, do some squats, etc… for 10 minutes following a meal.

The science behind it: The best place for muscles to find energy is sourcing glucose straight from your bloodstream. By exercising while glucose is at its highest (right after a meal), you can quickly lower those levels and get back to baseline.

Try out one or two of these hacks for a day and see how you feel! They’re so easy to do and can truly make a world of difference without depriving you of the things you love. As always, tune into the episode for allll the juicy goodness in this ep! Be sure to share your thoughts with me on IG: @shoporganicolivia.

xoxo,

Olivia

Connect with Jessie Inchauspé (Glucose Goddess):

Follow @glucosegoddess on IG

Visit the Glucose Revolution website

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