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How To Minimize Spikes In Blood Sugar


A couple of months ago, I shared a simple yet highly effective approach to minimizing blood sugar spikes, thereby decreasing risk of developing heart disease and Alzheimer's.

Some longtime clients asked for a more simple approach, so I tested a handful of scenarios and can recommend doing the following:

Before eating anything that is high in carbohydrates or that has added sugar, have either a handful of nuts like almonds, walnuts, pecans, or pistachios, or 1-2 eggs. A handful of such nuts or 1-2 eggs is sufficient in most cases to dampen the pace at which carbohydrates that come into the body up to 15 minutes later enter the bloodstream. Slowing the pace at which glucose enters the bloodstream helps preserve insulin sensitivity, which protects against metabolic disease, heart disease, and dementia.

The big picture is this: high sugar and lowered sensitivity to insulin first manifests as metabolic disease, which most experience as unneeded body fat beginning in their 30s. The next stage of progression are signs of heart disease, which show up for most people in their 40s and 50s. And the final manifestation of high sugar and poor insulin sensitivity is sufficient damage to the blood vessels that supply the brain, thereby allowing development of various forms of dementia with symptoms gaining momentum for affected people in their 70s and beyond.

By minimizing spikes in blood sugar, we can significantly halt or prevent the development of all three states.

For those who missed the more detailed guidelines on this topic earlier in the year, I'm including them below:

Without changing anything about what we eat, here is how we can minimize spikes in our blood sugar from any typical meal:

1. Eat non-starchy, fibrous vegetables first, foods like typical salad vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage.

2. Next, eat foods that are primarily rich in protein (fish, beef, chicken, etc.) and/or healthy fats (eggs, avocados, etc.).

3. Finish with foods that are rich in starch (rice, potatoes, etc.) and natural sugars (fruit, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets).

The idea is simple: by occupying our stomach and the first third of our small intestine with fiber, protein, and fat-rich foods first, we establish something of a natural sponge that soaks up sugar and slows the pace at which it enters our bloodstream.

People who monitor their blood sugar via continuous glucose monitors almost invariably experience significant dampening of blood sugar following a meal when they eat in the order outlined above.

With this principle in mind, when we want to enjoy a treat like a slice of pie or cake, it's best to have it after we ingest something that is rich in fiber, protein, and/or healthy fat.

Even those who mostly eat a minimally processed diet can benefit from this principle - for example, to eat a bowl of fresh fruit after having a handful of walnuts or a soft boiled egg. For the vast majority of us, to eat the bowl of fruit first, followed by walnuts or an egg leads to a higher spike in blood sugar.

Doing some work to stimulate our largest muscle groups before having a substantial meal is always helpful in keeping our blood sugar within a healthy range, as our largest muscles act as sponges that soak up excess sugar from our bloodstream.

Going for a solid walk after meals is also helpful, as doing so creates natural demand within our skeletal, smooth, and cardiac muscle fibers to use up glucose. To be a little more granular, cardiac muscle fibers primarily utilize fatty acids to create energy needed to function, but the heart is metabolically flexible, and is able to use glucose for ATP generation - for this matter, cardiac muscle cells can also use lactate, ketones, and amino acids as sources of carbon substrate to create ATP.

I hope this is helpful to some out there.


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