Episode #127: International Best-Selling Author Jessie Inchauspé: All About Blood Glucose Levels
My guest today is biochemist and author Jessie Inchauspé. A serious accident took Jessie down a path of wanting to understand her body and all the things that impact how she feels. She created an online community called ‘Glucose Goddess’ which inspired her latest book “Glucose Revolution.”
We discuss how so many chronic illnesses result from us not being able to control our glucose blood levels. Jessie drills down on the science of glucose and precisely what we can do to manage our levels and avoid harmful spikes. I have never really given that much attention to glucose because I thought if I ate healthily, that would be sufficient; that glucose was something diabetics or pre-diabetics needed to monitor closely… was I wrong. Aging, sleep, energy levels, cravings, hormones, and the list goes on and on of all the things our glucose levels impact. She makes understanding the science simple. And how we can apply day-to-day habits and hacks to do our best to flatten our glucose curves. I learned a lot, and Jessie knows how to make glucose talk fun. Enjoy
Listen to the episode here:
- A Life Changing Accident [00:03:11]
- What is Glucose? [00:08:23]
- Glucose Spikes and Its Impacts [00:16:29]
- On Glucose and Fructose [00:24:39]
- Vegetables First [00:28:33]
- On Artificial Sweeteners [00:38:38]
- The Vinegar Hack [00:44:02]
- Hypoglycemia During Sleep [00:49:33]
- Stress [00:50:45]
- On Metformin and Berberine [00:55:49]
- On Exogenous Ketones [00:56:55]
- CGM [00:59:34]
- Advocacy [01:01:36]
- Courage and Handling Criticism [01:04:13]
International Best Selling Author Jessie Inchauspé: All About Blood Glucose Levels
My guest is Jessie Inchauspé. She has an international bestselling book called Glucose Revolution. My friend, Elijah, gave me the book. The minute I was one and a half chapters in, I’m like, “I’ve got to talk to her.” As somebody who’s been trying to pay attention to taking care of myself and communicating with you guys about this, what I love about this book is I don’t know that I’ve spent that much time thinking about my blood glucose levels. I thought, “That’s for people who have diabetes or for diabetics.”
What you realize is that if we can manage our blood glucose levels and avoid those big spikes or have few of them as possible, not only are our days most likely to have better energy, better sleep, less cravings, but our long-term health will be so supported. Many chronic illnesses can be impacted by our ability to manage our glucose. It’s achievable. She makes it clear.
For those of you who like hacks, there are tons of hacks. There’s a lot of science. Jessie’s not giving you her opinion. This is all science-backed. She does put a fun, friendly, and attainable message around this process. That’s what makes it special. It’s not just the information but it’s her. I learned a lot and I was inspired. I’ve got a NutriSense Continuous Glucose Monitor. I’ve never done that before. I was inspired by this and I’ve been eating my fiber first. I hope you enjoy it.
Jessie, welcome to the show. I’m hoping we can do this in person one time.
I would love to. I’ll be in LA in September 2022.
I’m excited because a lot of times I do these interviews and I’m like, “Why didn’t I ask that?”
“Why didn’t I ask this?” This is going to be my opportunity. I appreciate your new book, Glucose Revolution. I want to dive right into it. You took something that a lot of us hear about, you simplified it, and you gave specific actionable takeaways. First, let’s dive into your story and how you got to this place of being so interested in what makes us us, the body, and even how you ended up at 23andMe. Maybe you could share a little bit of your story and then we’ll dive into glucose.
I also want to say thank you so much for sharing my work on your Instagram and everything. I was honored and grateful. Thank you for being on the Glucose Team.
It’s @GlucoseGoddess for those of you who want to follow. You also give a lot of information out there on Instagram. For me, if you have a good secret, you would tell your friends and this book is worthy of people who are trying to find better ways to care for themselves.
Thank you, Gabby. I’ll dive right into my story so I wasn’t that interested in health until I reached the age of 19. At 19, I had a terrible accident. I broke my back jumping off a waterfall of all things so that sucked. I had intense surgery, and a lot of physical side effects but most importantly, I suffered mentally for a long time. I developed this mental health condition called Depersonalization, which I do not recommend. It sucks.
As a young adult, I was completely lost. I was anxious, I was depressed, and I didn’t want to live anymore. I didn’t understand my body. I didn’t understand how to feel better. I couldn’t do anything else but go on a journey to try to understand how to wake up in the morning feeling good again. At that time, I was studying mathematics and I then went to grad school in the US where I looked into biochemistry. I got a Master’s in Biochemistry.
Still searching for answers, I went to Silicon Valley where I worked in the field of genetics in the startup called 23andMe, which I know you’re familiar with. I was still trying to figure out, what do I need to do to speak to my body? How can I get it to tell me what it needs? It turns out that genetics is not that helpful in telling you what you need to do to wake up feeling good in the morning. I was a little disillusioned but as I was there something remarkable happened that completely changed my life and it’s the reason I’m here today.
I had the opportunity to try a little device called a Continuous Glucose Monitor and I’m wearing one right now. I know you’re familiar with these, Gabby. They’re little white discs that you wear on the back of your arm that continuously measure your blood glucose levels or your blood sugar levels and send me information to your phone. These have been developed for people with diabetes. In the US, you need a prescription to get them. It’s still early days but for me, it changed everything.
The moment I was able to see my glucose levels on my phone it was like I could speak with my body. It was like I could understand what was happening underneath my skin and I had a way to communicate with it and figure out what was going on and how to help it. I found out that glucose spikes, which are rapid increases in glucose concentration underneath your skin, were one of the triggers for my depersonalization episodes. That blew my socks right off. It became so clear that I needed to figure out how to avoid these spikes to feel better. I did and I was able to heal myself and now that’s what I share with the world.
I want to sit on that point because a lot of people aren’t feeling good. They’re walking around. That’s why we’ve been desensitized to the foods we eat because we don’t even know what it feels like to feel good for a lot of people. Whether it’s chronic inflammation or something else, when you say, “I wasn’t feeling connected to my body,” what does that look like?
At its core, it was a situation in which I didn’t know why I felt certain ways. I didn’t know why I was tired, why I was anxious, why I had brain fog and why I had these episodes of depersonalization. I didn’t understand why I was craving sweet foods, why I woke up not feeling rested. It was a complete black box. I had no clue what was happening inside my body, how the inputs like my food, my lifestyle, and the way I was living were impacting how I felt. I was clueless. Most of us walk around with this disconnection. We don’t understand how what we’re doing is affecting us. Often, we medicate symptoms, suppress symptoms, and ignore symptoms.
What I discovered is the symptoms are your body’s speaking to you but we don’t know that it’s language. When you feel exhausted in the middle of the afternoon, when you feel super hungry an hour after you ate, when you have cravings for sweet foods all the time, that’s probably your body telling you, “There are glucose spikes happening here. We need you to help us avoid these.” It’s your body trying to signal something’s wrong.
[bctt tweet=”The only people who will criticize are people who themselves are not free and are not able to be themselves.”]
One of the things I appreciate about this is if you can solve this mystery, that could impact 25 other things that people are experiencing. In the book, you break it up into three parts. You start off with what glucose is. I always try to get people to understand everything at a basic level because a lot of people feel overwhelmed. You did this a while where it’s like, “This is glucose.” First, maybe we can start with what is glucose so people know what it is that they’re trying to regulate.
Glucose is your body’s preferred energy source. Every single cell in your body, you pick, uses glucose to perform a function. Your heart cells use glucose to pump blood around your body. Your brain cells use glucose to think. Your feet cells use glucose to dance. Every single one of the cells in your body uses glucose to make you live essentially.
The main way that we get glucose is through the foods that we eat that are either starchy or sweet. Starchy or sweet foods are easy quick sources of glucose. With that information in mind, you might think, “If glucose is energy and I get it through starchy and sweet foods, if I eat more of those foods, that’ll give me more energy and that’ll be good, right?”
That’s not the case because you’re going to have too much of a good thing. It’s the same thing as if you give plants too much water and drown or you give a human too much oxygen and they pass out. If you give your body too much glucose, bad stuff starts happening. I found through my own research that 90% of us experience everyday glucose spikes, which are rapid deliveries of glucose to the system. Most of us don’t even know that we’re experiencing these glucose spikes, but we’re familiar with the symptoms.
The most common symptoms are unsteady energy, so feeling tired throughout the day, having cravings for sweet foods and being hungry every 90 minutes, having acne and a lot of wrinkles, and having hormonal issues like difficult menopause symptoms or polycystic ovarian syndrome. Also, not sleeping well and having mental health disturbances, and developing long-term Type 2 Diabetes or other chronic illnesses. We’re talking about a lot of influence.
These glucose spikes have a lot of influence. For the longest time, we thought that only diabetics should care about their glucose levels but now we know it’s not the case. We need to regulate those glucose levels to feel better and it’s not hard. That’s the whole philosophy that I’m here to talk about. It’s not difficult. It’s as easy as, for example, eating your foods in the right order, or the hacks that I’m sure we’ll touch on.
I appreciate it. These are the types of books that I always say to people, “These are great books to physically have so you can go back if you forget something or reference something.” At the end of the book, you make it clear as day with specific hacks on how to get into this. It’s important too because you say that a lot of people think, “It’s only for diabetics,” but a lot of us are living in these constant spikes. It’s funny when I read stuff like this at my age, I’m like, “I’ve been blowing it my entire adult life.”
I’m pretty health conscious but even learning some of the nuances about these food orders and things like that, you’re like, “I could have maybe been doing that better for twenty years.” This is something of a real opportunity for people to either course correct or to start better habits. I was even talking to my youngest daughter, I was like, “You have to be careful.” She has a few blemishes. Yes, certainly there’s some hormone stuff going on but I also know some of the snacky foods that she’s eating.
I try not to prohibit these too much because I also have older daughters and you realize they have to go through these experiments of like, “Maybe I want to eat this but I see it come out on my skin or I don’t feel my best or even going to the bathroom,” or whatever. We were in the car and I said, “I’m going to drop off an idea. Do what you want with it.”
This kid eats well overall but it’s a cultural thing with their friends. They do weird chips and weird stuff. I did the same thing but I said, “If, for some reason, you’re going to eat those weird Takis or whatever they are, maybe shove some vegetables in your mouth before you do it.” That’s how you talk to a 14-year-old. You don’t go like, “Let me talk to you about glucose,” for whatever reason because then that would impact how your food is absorbed and digested. It might be better for your energy and skin.
You try to be subtle because girls are going to be like, “What’s wrong with my skin?” Even in that, it’s so digestible. You say that people don’t realize that this is a constant roller coaster every day. Even in the morning, let’s start there. It’s not putting yourself straight into having a baked muffin. You’re in France so I can imagine all the things you have to walk by.
One of the hacks that you’re alluding to is having a savory breakfast instead of a sweet one because if you have a sweet breakfast, that creates a huge glucose spike in your body. We know from science that it impacts the rest of your day. You start the cravings rollercoaster. You feel hungry and then you’re exhausted. You need more sugar to pick you up so, at equal calories, it’s not a calorie thing. Having a breakfast that will not create a glucose spike helps you be set up for success for the rest of the day.
I am in France right now and I don’t even want to eat sweet pastries in the morning anymore because I know it’s going to make me feel absolute crap. When I was young, I used to eat a Nutella crepe every morning for breakfast. I was in school and I was famished at 11:00 AM. I thought it was normal. For my entire childhood and teenage years, I was famished at 11:00 AM, because I was eating something sweet in the morning, spiking my glucose, and then crashing an hour and a half later. That’s something I would never go back on.
To the point of what you said to your daughter, if I do want to eat something sweet, let’s say I want to have a pain au chocolat in the afternoon, I will avoid eating it on an empty stomach. That’s one of the key principles. If you’re going to eat something sweet, make sure there’s something else in your stomach before. Maybe eat some protein like some eggs or vegetables because the fiber in the vegetables helps you not absorb all the sugar. That’s been a wonderful hack so you can still eat the sweet stuff you love but with fewer consequences on your mood, hunger, cravings on your skin, and your aging.
The thing that’s important is sometimes people might say, “I can’t do this for the whole day. Let’s say if you can start with doing it right in the morning, let’s start there.” I would encourage people to go from there. You mentioned in your book a Dr. Lustig. I know Dr. Lustig and he had a great lecture called The Bitter Truth.
He got into it when he was studying child obesity, changing the sugar content of certain foods, not even changing unhealthy for healthy, or even calories but some of the sugar like a bagel, which you wouldn’t encourage people to eat on the regular basis. That instead of something like a sugary pastry, how that impacted the glucose levels, fatty liver disease, and all these things.
The thing is once people can understand this, and how they can practice this in their everyday life, it will give them so much power. Let’s go over why a flatter glucose level or the curve and how it impacts us because people diabetics are much more familiar with insulin, insulin resistance, and what that does for the body. Chronic inflammation and not being able to lose weight irritates people beyond feeling lethargic, not sleeping well, or not looking how they feel that they want to look. Maybe explain to us the spikes, what’s happening, and how this impacts us.
Every time you experience a glucose spike, there are two main mechanisms that happen that then lead to all the consequences I mentioned. The first thing that happens is that as glucose rushes into your bloodstream, it goes to your cells because it’s supposed to be converted into energy so that you can dance, your heart can pump, or whatever. All the glucose rushes to the mitochondria in your cells because the mitochondria are supposed to turn glucose into energy.
The issue with the mitochondria is they do not like having too much glucose come their way. They become overwhelmed, go on strike, and shut down. They cannot handle a huge influx of glucose. It’s too much for them so they shut down and get stressed. This is bad because one, they’re not able to make energy anymore so you don’t feel energized and you feel tired.
Two, as your mitochondria shut down and get stressed, they release these molecules called Free Radicals. Free radicals cause a lot of damage. Anything free radical touches, it damages. If a free radical touches your DNA, it might make a mutation that might lead to cancer. If a free radical touches one of your cell membranes, it will poke a hole in that cell and damage it. Over time, too many free radicals lead to this state called Oxidative Stress and that leads to chronic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation is a huge issue. Three out of five people in the world will die of an inflammation-based disease. It creates a terrain for so many bad things to happen in your body like the inability to lose weight, chronic illnesses, and everything from heart disease, to cancer, to Alzheimer’s. They are all linked to inflammation. That’s the first reason glucose spikes are not good because they cause chronic inflammation,
It’s true that once you damage your mitochondria or it dies you don’t get that one back. You don’t get that battery back. You can get them to split and get new ones but once one dies, you lose that one.
Yes, but it’s like your cells. You can even get way more mitochondria than ever before if you flatten your glucose curves and overall have twice the amount you used to have so it’s not over. You can always get better. That particular one might die, but you have the option to make those new ones. No worries there. The body is able to do that, which is good because otherwise, you might burn through those batteries quickly. It’s cool because we have the power to reverse the issue and feel better. There’s a lot of hope in science.
That’s why I want to remind people because a lot of times people think, “I’ve already destroyed things,” “I’m damaged,” or what have you. What’s the second reason?
The second reason is aging. Every time there’s a glucose spike that happens in your body, I know you’re making big eyes. I know it’s scary, but don’t worry. There are things you can do and it’s easy. We’re going to get through the bad stuff and then I’m going to tell you all the hopeful things. The second thing that happens every time a glucose spike takes place in your body is that glucose runs around in your body like a child on a playground. It bumps into everything. It’s running in all directions.
Every time a piece of glucose or a molecule of glucose bumps into another molecule. It does this thing called Glycation. It cooks the other molecule. If you put a chicken in the oven and it goes from white to brown, that’s cooking. That’s the same thing that happens in your body every day. The faster you cook, the faster you age. Once you’re fully cooked, you die. That is what happened. It blew my mind when I realized this. It’s such a simple image. You’re cooking and the more glucose spikes you have, the faster you cook. You see this externally so wrinkles on your face, but also internally, your organs start getting damaged.
All in all, bad stuff happens when there’s a week goes by, it’s even worse if you eat something sweet because in sweet foods, there’s also fructose on top of glucose, which is what Dr. Lustig discovered and that’s why one of my hacks is if you want to have a snack, have something savory instead of something sweet because you’ll cause less damage.
It’s all terrible and awful and we want to avoid these spikes but I discovered through my scientific research that there are simple principles you can put in place to start reversing all that damage, without going on a terrible diet without giving up all the foods you love. You can quite quickly heal yourself from the inside out. The testimonials I get every day are incredible. Many things get better when you flatten your glucose curves.
I’m more of a person who wants to talk about vitality and health because I feel that in order of things when we can get certain things lined up, other things will take care of themselves like weight loss and such. I do want to remind people that it’s almost impossible to get to a place where you can lose the weight that you’re looking for without figuring out how to flatten your glucose spikes. I am saying that now because if that’s something that motivates people, so be it. I get it. If you said to me, “Gabby, your skin,” I’d be like, “I’m all over it.”
It’s whatever it takes because usually, I say, “Let’s get into our reasons and whys,” the bigger and deeper reasons. If it’s like, “If you want to try to conquer this idea of not feeling inflamed all the time and figure out a way to lose weight this is a very powerful tool.” Speaking of that, you would rather that people look at their waist size. That’s more effective than the BMI as far as losing weight and things like that.
[bctt tweet=”One of the hacks is having a savory breakfast instead of a sweet one.”]
Waist size is a better predictor of underlying health issues. For example, it’s a better predictor of visceral fat. BMI is not that helpful. It was invented by a mathematician. It was a statistics thing. Two people can have the same BMI. One can have a healthy functioning body and a lot of muscle and the other one can have a lot of visceral fat and fatty liver disease so it doesn’t tell you anything. It’s like the weight on the scale. It doesn’t tell you anything about what’s going on within.
If you focus on health, if you understand the biology behind glucose levels and why it’s going to help you so much, things will fall into place as you focus on your health. I get a lot of messages from people saying, “I focused on getting my glucose level steady so I could feel better and have more energy, and be happier. I lost all this weight without even trying to.” It’s not the objective. This is not a diet. This is about health.
It’s also reinforcing to people that there are so many real benefits from this. I do want to point out a couple of things with fructose versus glucose. You can measure your glucose. It’s more challenging to measure your fructose and it’s ten times more damaging. I’m only bringing that up because I know we’re going to get into the role of sucrose and fructose but to remind people that it’s ten times more damaging than glucose. You’re giving us the lowdown on glucose. We can measure it and it’s still good giving people a heads up and the importance of fructose. If people start monitoring, and you see that you might be eating foods that don’t give you glucose spikes, it doesn’t mean that the foods are healthy.
There are a lot of caveats here. On the fructose thing completely, every time you eat something sweet and it makes a glucose spike that you can see if your brain glucose monitor knows there’s also an invisible fructose spike happening because anything that tastes sweet contains fructose. Yes, glucose is not everything so some foods will keep your group dose levels completely steady but can cause health side effects. For example, alcohol will mostly keep your glucose levels steady or will help flatten the glucose curve of a meal which does not mean it’s good to add alcohol to your meal. That’s one example.
Unhealthy fats like trans fats are highly processed foods that have been fried in vegetable oils and that stuff will keep your glucose levels steady because fats do not raise glucose levels. That doesn’t mean they’re good for you. What I want people to remember is, one, in the book, I lay all this out and I do all the work for you. All these hacks keep all of these things into account. If you’re somebody who has a glucose monitor, have a little look at the first section of my book where I explain how glucose is not everything. You can see the pitfalls to avoid because it can be quite confusing to try to interpret your own data without much context or education.
That’s why I bring those up because I feel those are some important supportive parts. I personally have high cholesterol. I always have genetically. I’ve had to learn the real difference between large particle cholesterol and small particle cholesterol. If people are also navigating bloodwork and things like that, I would encourage them to read your book. Your book has a lot of information on that. Let’s talk about how you can flatten it because this is the good news. Maybe we could break down the relationship between glucose, sucrose, and fructose because people will get like, “Which one is which?” “One has fiber when it doesn’t have fiber,” things like that.
The scientific nomenclature is not friendly so I’m going to try to make it as simple as possible. Glucose is basically what you find in starchy foods. Every time you eat bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, or tortilla chips, those are molecules of glucose attached together that break down in your stomach into individual glucose molecules and they can create a glucose spike.
Sucrose is table sugar. It’s the white powdery stuff that you bake cakes with. Let’s call it table sugar. We don’t have to call it sucrose because it makes it even more confusing. If you look at it under a microscope, you will see that it is half glucose and half fructose. The fructose is what makes it taste sweet. When you eat table sugar, the fructose and glucose molecules separate. In your body, there’s going to be a glucose spike and a fructose spike happening at the same time but we can only see the glucose on a continuous glucose monitor. That’s the lowdown. I hope it made it simple.
Nature Sweet was safe. It was not poisonous. It tastes great because that was to also make it appealing but people have to realize that when they’re eating processed foods and what have you, we’re geared to eat as much of it as we can but it’s things to be careful of. We can dive right into some of your hacks because you have quite a few of them. We don’t have to do all of them but some of the basic ones are helpful and clear.
I can start with probably my favorite one or the most surprising one, which is how to eat your food in the right order. Science shows us that when you’re about to have a meal, if you eat the constituents of that meal in a specific order, you can reduce the glucose spike of the meal by 75%. You’re eating the exact same meal but the glucose spike is 75% smaller so less inflammation, less weight gain, less aging, and less health problems. It’s powerful.
The correct order is the following. Vegetables, first. Proteins and fats, second. Starches and sugars, last. Let’s say you’re having a meal that contains some fish, some asparagus, some rice, some avocado, and then a piece of fruit. The right order to eat that meal for your glucose levels is asparagus first, then the fish and the avocado, then the rice, and then the piece of fruit. This is powerful for your body because vegetables contain fiber.
Fiber is a magical thing. If vegetables are the first thing that you eat during the meal, the fiber in them is going to arrive in your stomach first then it’s going to make its way to your upper intestine. There, it’s going to create this protective mesh on the walls of your intestine. That mesh is going to stay there and this is going to prevent your body from absorbing too much of the glucose and fructose coming through later in the meal.
You’re still eating the starchy and sweet foods later but your body is simply not absorbing as many of those molecules as it would have if you had eaten those first. That’s the first reason it works. The second reason that works is that proteins and fats, the fish and the avocado, slow down the speed at which foods get digested in your body. Any glucose and fructose that comes from the rice and the fruits will be digested slower and then once it makes its way to the intestine, it won’t be absorbed as much so the glucose back is 75% smaller. It’s very impactful. You can start it today. You will feel a difference in your energy levels and your cravings, and how you feel for the rest of the day.
I don’t make bread a part of my regular diet. Even the difference between bread with butter, nut butter, or having something fat on it is that the glucose spike is less than toast on its own. You give a lot of examples of how to do this and meals. It makes it very simple in that you can deconstruct your plate. Ultimately, if you think about it, if you go to a restaurant, they usually say, “Would you like to start with a salad?”
We have things woven into our traditions that make perfect sense as to why we do them and dessert is always at the end. It’s why we use salt and pepper because you can absorb some of the nutrients better. We have things that were laid out for us originally. We weren’t eating so many processed foods but it was to start with a salad, then you had your main course. I’m interested, if you still try to keep certain foods, not on your plate that often. What’s your personal practice?
Is not an effort anymore because I used to be on such a glucose roller coaster that I would crave any cookie, any chocolatey thing I would come across during my day. I would grab these processed foods because my body was telling me to get them because I was having this glucose crash. Now that my glucose is steady, I don’t crave those things anymore. I don’t even have to force myself to not eat them. I simply don’t want them anymore.
When I do want to eat something chocolatey like a chocolate cake or whatever, then I get the chance to be specific about which one I want to eat, get it maybe for tomorrow, or order that nice chocolate mousse I love. It becomes this joyful thing instead of feeling like I’m controlled by the compulsion to eat these processed sugary foods. It completely changed my relationship and I didn’t realize that it was possible. I thought my whole life I would feel guilty about eating sugary stuff. I thought that it was always going to be that and now I’m like, “It’s a completely different world. It’s amazing.”
It’s twofold. You’ve diminished the cravings but also you have a strategy. Part of eating those foods is to enjoy them. When we have this relationship where it’s like, “I’m going to do this as a choice and I’m going to enjoy it,” versus, “I’m hungry. I’m going to shove it in my mouth and continue.” There are so many there are so many upcycles. I want to break down sugar because honey, maple syrup, and table sugar ultimately react all the same in the body.
It does. I explained that table sugar is half glucose and half fructose. That’s the same for honey, agave syrup, maple syrup, coconut sugar, brown sugar, or whatever. They’re all glucose and fructose molecules. To your body, they’re not processed differently if they came from super white refined sugar or if they came from honey. It still causes glucose and fructose spikes in our body but we have this health halo around agave, honey, or maple syrup. It’s often because of its antioxidant properties.
I did my research. I was like, “Is this true? Does honey have that many antioxidants?” It turns out that it doesn’t. There are as many antioxidants in a tablespoon of honey as there are in half a blueberry. If you want antioxidants, eat berries, eat fruit. That’ll give you way more without the huge glucose and fructose spikes. In any case, now that we know this, pick whatever sugar you want. If you love honey, have it but for pleasure. Have these sweet things for pleasure, not thinking that they’re adding all these health benefits because they’re not.
I was a little bummed about that.
Everybody is, honestly. I have to communicate the truth. I have to tell you what science says. People get bummed but that’s the case.
This is about giving people power. That’s all. When we lift more naturally and we do things intuitively in getting this but now we live in a different world so we need a different understanding. Fructose, if I’m not mistaken, can only be stored as fat.
That’s one of the issues too. Fructose essentially ends up as fat whereas glucose can be used for energy, it can be stored in your muscles and your liver. Fructose is the main driver of fatty liver disease because it accumulates in your liver as fat.
I’m not going to give all your hacks away. For example, I train a lot and so if I was going to eat certain foods, I would eat right after I train because they talked about the muscles being more open and they can absorb the glucose more readily. You have a hack where after you eat, the impact of taking a ten-minute walk, the glucose spike is significantly different.
It works both ways. Essentially, the best time to eat something sweet is either before or after your exercise so that it’s used by your muscles as energy. If you love honey and you want your daily honey tea, have it before you go for a walk, exercise, or clean your apartment. That’s a cool hack. For walking after meals, that’s a simple one I give people. It’s because your muscles, as they contract, even if it’s ten minutes of walking, even if it’s dancing to your favorite song playing with your kids, or whatever, your muscles are going to be soaking up glucose from your bloodstream to create energy. You will reduce the glucose spike in the meal you ate. You’ll reduce all of the negative consequences of a big glucose spike by doing that.
You mentioned the thing about traditions. Culturally, we knew all this stuff. There’s this Indian tradition of 100 steps after dinner, which is exactly that hack. Walk after your meals because it’ll help you process the meal better. You’ll have a smaller spike and you won’t feel as tired as you used to. I used to have a food coma, the post-meal sleepiness. With walking after meals, that’s completely gone because I don’t have such a big glucose crash so I don’t need to take a nap.
[bctt tweet=”Vegetables first, proteins and fats second, and starches and sugars are last.”]
Imagine if we had kids at school. They had lunch and then they could go outside and play before they were put back in the classroom. All these little things don’t take much time and they can change the trajectory of how you experience the rest of the day. What about stevia? People always want to know. In the grand scheme of it, I’ve eaten a leaf, and that’s different. If you have these drops, there are some conflicting ideas around stevia.
I’m going to go into the different types of artificial sweeteners. They are always going to be a better option than having real sugar because the real sugar even though you feel that it’s real and natural it’s causing a lot of harm to your body. Sweeteners have gotten a bad rep but people forget to compare them to the alternative, which is regular sugar, which is much worse for you.
In the world of sweeteners, the best options are stevia, allulose, monk fruit, and erythritol. Those are the ones that we know don’t cause glucose or insulin spikes. They seem to be handled pretty well by most people. Yes, sweeteners can increase your cravings a little bit. Some may cause issues to your microbiome, but at a much smaller scale than the regular table sugar, the maple syrup, the agave, or the brown sugar that you would have instead. There you have it. Are you a big stevia person?
I’m not. I just try to minimize all of that stuff but I have a good friend who loves Zevia and stevia. There’s an ongoing debate in my house. He was like, “We need to find out about stevia,” because my husband is pretty intense about all of this. He’s like, “If it tastes that sweet, there’s got to be something wrong with it.” I was like, “Maybe that’s true.” Maybe there are no gimmies in life but I was like, “We can find out what it is.”
It’s okay to have them. Of course, it’s better to not have anything that tastes sweet that way you’re not training your brain and your body to crave it but stevia is a better option than table sugar.
I know someone who’s going to be happy about that. I want to say to people that it’s statistically in the order and how we eat our food that you can get an insulin spike down by 43% and a glucose spike down by 78%. This is not something like, “It’s 5% better this is real.” I encourage people to give that experiment and see for themselves.
Often, when we’re hungry, we always go for the carbs first. Bread on the table before the meal. That’s the worst thing to do.
Why do they do that to us?
Do you know why?
They trigger you to eat more.
You’re right. If you have read at the beginning of your meal on an empty stomach, it’s going to make a big glucose spike. Ninety minutes later, when the main course is done or whatever, you’re going to have a glucose crash so you’re going to be hungry again and have cravings. That’s right around the time they bring out the dessert menu. All of a sudden, all the desserts look good.
What I do now, is I keep the bread for after the main so I always order a vegetable-based starter and whatever main I like. After the main, if I want to have the bread, that’s the best time because you want to do veggies first, proteins and fats second, and starches and sugars last. It’s a huge difference. It’s hard to resist but you don’t have to give it up, you save it for later.
I have a rule about it. I call it the Bread Basket Rule. When I go to a restaurant, and I say this about life, I have to say, “Today, tonight, I will not be eating the bread.” If I sit without making the decision and then they put it in front of me, typically, I’m going to go for it. That becomes the mindlessness part of it, the impulse. I call it the Bread Basket Decision because when I sit down, I have to say, “I made this decision.” It sounds silly, but it’s just bringing awareness to situations. I’m not trying to punish myself.
I’ve done it enough times to go, “It seems to work better if I do this.” Speaking of that, you talk about maybe avoiding snacking too much and letting the digestive process. This falls in line when people do either intermittent fasting or things like that. If you’re eating your food in order, avoiding the spike, you’re going to be less hungry, and then you give that other process a little bit more time.
One of my hacks is if you want to eat something sweet, have it as dessert, not as a snack in between meals. If you’re walking past a bakery, and you find a tasty-looking something that’s sweet, buy it but don’t eat it right then and there. Save it for dessert after your next meal. That way, you give your body more time in the states where it’s not post-eating so your body can repair, recuperate, and your insulin levels lower. If you have the sweet thing after your meal, it’s going to create much less of a glucose spike. You’re going to still be eating the same thing, but with less consequences on your health.
The last hack I want to bring up is vinegar. I like apple cider vinegar. I know that vinegars are all in play. Maybe you could share how you’re using vinegar as a tool as well.
The amount of clinical trials and science on this is quite remarkable. I didn’t know that it was such a researched compound. If you have a tablespoon of vinegar and a tall glass of water and if you drink it before a meal, you can reduce the glucose spike of the meal by 30% just by having this pre-meal vinegar drink. I have it in these water bottles that are bigger than a glass. It’s pretty amazing results. You might wonder how that works.
Inside vinegar, there’s a molecule called acetic acid. Acetic acid is cool and it does two things. The first thing it does is that it slows down the breakdown of starches into glucose. If you’re eating bread, it’ll be broken down slower into individual glucose molecules. The glucose will arrive slower in your bloodstream.
Second, acetic acid goes to your muscles and it tells your muscles, “Gabby’s muscles, absorb more glucose as it arrives into the bloodstream and store it as energy for later when we’re going to need to contract and use it.” When acetic acid is in your body it’s helping your fats and your glucose spike by telling your muscles to absorb glucose as it lands in your bloodstream. As a result, a 30% smaller glucose spike.
In the studies, they tested this on many different groups of people. They did studies on people with diabetes, showing that adding this vinegar drink a few times a day helps people get their diabetes into remission. There’s a small study that was done on women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, which is highly linked to glucose spikes, showing that drinking this vinegar drink a few times a day could help them get their period back and even get pregnant. It’s powerful. It’s as powerful as the other hacks but it’s probably the most surprising one because you don’t have to change anything. Just add the drinks and it helps.
People have been talking about vinegar. Could you do it in a shot? It’s like when you go, “I’m not going to drink a whole drink with vinegar?” Would it be as effective to say, “I’m going to knock it out and be done with it?”
It would be but it’s possible that drinking a shot of vinegar is not good for the enamel of your teeth. That’s the only thing. That’s why it’s recommended that you dilute it and it is even recommended that you drink it with a straw. If you want to do a shot, maybe drink the shot through a straw so that the vinegar doesn’t touch your teeth. That’s a hack. It still works the same. You can even drizzle the vinegar on your vegetable starter. You don’t have to drink it. You can incorporate it as part of your starter, for example, and it works the same.
The last part is about insulin. If your insulin is elevated, you share that you cannot burn fat. Did I get that right?
Yeah, you did.
It’s connecting people to the importance of all of these hormones and all of these things. What’s happening when we get out of whack is just that single part of the equation and how it impacts everything else. I wanted to bring that out. I have a few performance questions that I fielded from people. One of them is in the sauna. A lot of times people will go in the sauna and I don’t know if it’s because you’re sweating and your blood’s getting sicker. I’m not sure but I’m going to ask you some things that people were interested in trying to connect and understand because they are monitoring their glucose.
Let’s do it.
I had a female bodybuilder who was encouraged to eat carbs pre and post-workout. The spike in insulin was good for hypertrophy. This is way out of my league. Will that have a negative impact? If you don’t know, you don’t know but these are some questions for people who are a little more high-performance. What do you think about that? Is it maybe because the muscles are working so much that they’re not impacted the same?
I don’t know. I’m not a huge performance expert. What I do know is that if you’re trying to refuel after a big workout and eat carbs, you can do that without a glucose spike if you add veggies and a bit of protein to it. Yes, it’s good to give carbs back to your muscles after you work out but a glucose spike is still not going to be that amazing. Have a bit of vegetable first, if you can, or add some fiber to whatever protein or carbs smoothie you’re making and try to make it a bit more balanced. You don’t have to load your system with a huge glucose spike to get the benefits.
A lot of times, when people are trying to keep size, they’re advocating this fine scale. Anything that you do to an extreme in the end, you’re paying a little bit of a price, whatever it is. For people who play sports, it’s repetitive motion. There’s a price for that. People are trying to be bigger than the frame can carry. Hypoglycemic during sleep when everything else is normal. Have you heard of this?
There are two reasons for this. Sometimes at night, if you’re wearing a glucose monitor, the sensor will read low because you’re sleeping on it or you’re doing something weird to it and it’s not a real low. Unless you’re having big symptoms waking up in the middle of the night with heart palpitations or sweating or nausea, it might be a false alarm.
Second, at night, we need less glucose so your body is going to be pushing out less during that time so it’s normal that your glucose levels are lower at night. Finally, if you’re somebody who has a lot of glucose spikes during the day, your body is going to be releasing a lot of insulin during the day to deal with those glucose spikes. At night, that might turn into low. If you don’t have any symptoms, you’re probably fine. Flatten your glucose curves during the day and see if that goes away, but not a huge cause for alarm unless you’re dropping, in the 50s or lower 60s, in which case talk to a doctor.
We haven’t talked about the relationship of stress to the spikes. When people stress out, you can also have a spike. Is that right?
Absolutely. In your body, there’s this reaction that when you’re stressed, your body thinks you’re going to have to run away from a tiger and so it dumps all this glucose into your blood to feed your muscles because it thinks, “We’re going to have to sprint. Better get some glucose ready for those muscles to use.” I experienced this myself. I was running my glucose monitor and I gave this big presentation in front of 300 people and I was stressed out.
I checked my glucose monitor and I had gotten a huge spike up to 180. It’s a very sharp and narrow spike. That is real. Stress can 100% increase your glucose levels. Oftentimes, it’s that natural reaction to the fight or flight mode. What you can do for that is try to calm your nervous system when something stressful happens afterward. Grieving, tapping, grounding, or whatever.
It’s easily two minutes of down-regulating breathing. People can do box breathing or as long as the exhale is longer than the inhale. Within about two minutes you can get yourself into your parasympathetic state. That’s a good tool but it’s a great reminder. Everyone jokes that stress is the number one killer but we’re so accustomed to living with stress. We’re all in a hurry and we have so many things we’re doing that it’s an important reminder to say to people, “That is never helping.” I’m not better or I’m not performing better because I’m flipping out.
My favorite is watching myself do that. I don’t know if you’ve been in that situation and usually, it’s with my kids, I’m not going to lie, or it’s some knucklehead and work where it’s too much knucklehead BS for me and then I am this person. I watched myself like, “You’re letting that make you freak out.” It’s that willingness to bite into it fully. It’s like, “I’m going to freak out and I’m going to go all the way.” It is interesting to watch when you know.
There’s a whole wave of hormones that happen in your body when that happens so you lose control.
[bctt tweet=”If you want to eat something sweet, have it as dessert, not as a snack in between meals.”]
It’s fifteen seconds of, “Look how tough and stressed out I am and the damage for the next six hours.” I should have learned that lesson by now. People who stopped drinking alcohol get radical sugar cravings.
If you think about it, your glucose might not spike but you have a sugar addiction. It’s interesting because if you go to AAA meetings, all they have there is coffee, sugary doughnuts, and things like that. I experienced that even with my husband. He stopped drinking wine altogether. He was drinking in excess of it and he’s a person who doesn’t eat dessert and he had excess sugar cravings. It’s an interesting thing when you’re talking about this so I would say based on the hacks you already gave us. For someone who’s going through this and saying, “I’m not going to drink anymore,” definitely be on your sequence of eating. If you still have the sugar craving, at least have it at the end.
Also, add on the hacks because it’s one thing to have a sugar craving, it’s another thing to eat the sweet thing and start a glucose roller coaster that will intensify cravings. To eat the sweet thing without getting into this cycle that you can’t get off of, don’t eat the sweet thing on an empty stomach. if you’re you don’t have time, have some almonds, a piece of ham, half an egg, or whatever then have a vinegar drink if you can eat this sweet thing, and then go for a walk or move your body. That way, you’ll still have the pleasure and the satisfaction from having eaten it but inside you’re not creating this biological response. It’s going to make you crave something else in two hours.
That’s an important point. There are people who talk about when they’re fasting, their blood sugar gets higher, 100 to 110 but they’re not diabetic and they were curious.
It’s hard for me to comment on specific numbers because they can depend on so many things. Fasting glucose levels when you’re not eating can vary depending on how stressed you are, for example, how hydrated or dehydrated you are. I have experience with fasting glucose levels because when I was 24, my fasting glucose was 96, which is quite high, almost in the pre-diabetic range and now it’s 79. Keep in mind that fasting glucose is something you can change. It may take some time. Use the hacks, stay consistent, and slowly it’ll fall but to that specific question, I don’t know. I don’t know enough about the person.
Somebody was curious if you had an opinion about metformin and berberine.
For metformin, I don’t have an opinion. That’s a drug that a doctor needs to prescribe. When it comes to supplements like berberine, mulberry leaf extracts, and all of this other stuff seem to work pretty well. Cinnamon as well but you often have to take them for a long time for them to work.
It’s not right away. It has this cascading effect.
Mulberry leaf seems to be right away. It’s the same thing as vinegar. There are no real downsides to trying these out. I’m not a big crazy supplements experimenter. I like a few simple things that I can do easily every day but if it floats your boat, why not? Because the studies seem to show benefits.
We have a few more about everyone’s ketosis and all of these things. Someone wanted to know how you felt about exogenous ketones on the blood sugar because that’s become popular. Do you know those drinks that you’ve got to get them down?
That’s an even more extreme version of trying to get into ketosis. I don’t know. I’m not a real fan of this stuff. The keto diet is extreme. It’s hard to maintain for most people. Most of us are not even in ketosis when we think we are. It’s hard to get into ketosis. For women of reproductive age, it can mess up their hormones.
For some people, it works great, and they’re super happy but again, you can do a keto diet that is unhealthy. You can go keto, with highly processed keto products with no nutritional value that will cause issues to your body. If you’re trying to get the benefits of stable blood sugar, use my hacks because they’re based on whole foods and easy things that are sustainable. Not something extreme that could cause stress in the long term.
You mean everything is about the long term and about real practice. You can’t hack your way to perfect health? That’s not possible?
We know that consistent exercise and sleep can impact your glucose levels. This is a big one. Let’s say you’re doing a lot of the right things but you’re not resting well.
The more tired you are, the less well your body will be able to handle glucose spikes. When you’re tired, a lot of stuff works slowly. There’s something you can do if you’ve woken up from a bad night’s sleep. Do ten minutes of exercise. Get a video on YouTube like a ten-minute interval training or something because that’ll wake up your body and help your muscles become more receptive to glucose coming down for the rest of the day. That’s an easy hack but yes, sleep impacts glucose levels. If you have too many glucose spikes, you don’t sleep well so they’re in this symbiotic relationship where they impact each other.
I like how you share that coffee when you’re rested, you have less of a glucose spike versus coffee when you’re tired. There’s a beautiful irony in that. Especially in the US, it’s not as easy to get a CGM. She was wondering if you had any tips for that. Also, we can’t get what’s called a DexCom.
That’s another type of CGM.
It measures more. Doesn’t it measure not only your glucose?
The DexCom Glucose Monitor seems to be a bit more accurate. It’s also much more expensive but in the US to get any glucose monitor, you need a doctor’s prescription. I get mine in France because, in France, they’re over the counter. I could walk into a pharmacy and get one.
Is there a hack? Let’s say someone’s pretty healthy and they don’t have diabetes. I’m curious if there’s an easier way.
They can try but, in my experience, doctors don’t tend to prescribe glucose monitors unless you have a medical indication. If you’re the patient, things are starting to change. There are companies that are making glucose monitors for the wellness world. Even if you’re able to get a glucose monitor now, it’s a bit confusing to interpret the data. You might get lost in the numbers. Is it significant that it goes from 85 to 89? The 100 or 110 questions, accuracy, and all this stuff so it’s not completely ready yet. We’re going to see a lot of exciting stuff in the next couple of months. I can’t share everything but stay tuned.
Finally, I want to end this because I was observing while doing my homework. This is probably a surprising place that you’ve landed on. This is what you’re doing. You’ve written this book and you’re becoming a person who represents this. What has that been like for you? You’re smart and you probably had some other trajectories. Maybe the unexpected accident and some other things shifted that but I wondered what that’s like for you when you think about how you’re spending your days doing your work.
I feel like the idea of glucose and explaining glucose to people picked me and now I’m trying to do it justice. Of course, it’s a complicated relationship. Some days, I do not want to talk about glucose anymore. Other days, I’m super excited about it but mostly, it gives me great joy to see that. I’m doing a good job and it’s helping people. That’s the biggest motivator of them all but I’m not going to do glucose my whole life.
I have other long-term things I want to work on but it feels good to be in this space. I feel like the universe is helping me get this message to more and more people. I get to meet amazing people like you. It’s pretty sweet. I’m not going to complain but it’s a lot of things. It’s beautiful. It’s stressful. Sometimes it’s boring and annoying. Sometimes it’s elating. It’s everything. It’s a whole experience.
That’s a realistic definition of all the things that we pursue. It’s so many things and they’re all part of whatever it is. Whether it’s our work or our lives. There are days that it’s hard. There are days that you’re like, “This was a good day. There was flow.” There are days when you’re like, “What am I doing?” A lot more people are doing this, but in certain ways, you’ve put yourself out there. You’re communicating. What I observed and appreciated was you. You’re talking about scientific information, you’re all about the science, you give the data, but somehow you didn’t bite the hook that you felt like you had to be wearing a white stiff coat. I see your beautiful white nails.
It’s this interesting thing where you’re doing it uniquely your way but within that, it’s almost like you can leave yourself vulnerable for people to say, “Why would you put a rainbow over your head when you’re giving data?” The data is there. The work is there. The intention is there but someone’s still going to be mad that you chose a dancing rainbow over your head. The question is, first of all, how do you have the courage to say, “I am going to do this, but I’m still going to do it as me.” How do you manage? It’s one thing when we put on a mask, and people criticize. It’s another thing when we’re being ourselves and they have an opinion.
All the rainbow and fun stuff, that’s just me. I found out that if I wanted to reach a lot of people and make science interesting, it was an asset to make it colorful, sexy, funny, and all of the things that I’ve put into my Instagram. Now I’m reaching people who would have probably never read a post by a person in a white coat so it’s become an asset, but I also protect myself. I don’t show my life on Instagram. Nobody knows where I live, who my friends are, and what I do so I’ve set that boundary for myself because it’s important otherwise you’re so exposed.
I try to keep it as much about science as possible while bringing in as much of myself as I need to get people to emotionally connect with the content, and then want to try and feel better. It’s a fine delicate balance but it’s a dance. The nails and the rainbow make me happy. If I didn’t have the nails in the rainbow, I would be super bored and a lot of people would be bored too so I’m keeping them forever.
At the end of the day, you can peel it all back and the information is there so the route is there if you’re trying to have a little more fun or make it playful. My point of even bringing this up is to remind people that we might be in pursuit of something, and we might choose to do it a little bit differently and trust that. It’s scarier because you’re looking and you’re saying, “Most people are approaching this more seriously,” or what have you. I want to use that as an example because there are a lot of people who want to communicate a certain way and they have a specific way they do it and that is oftentimes scary. We put ourselves up for criticism anyway so it doesn’t matter.
We do but also what I learned, Gabby, is that the only people who will criticize, “Why are you sticking your tongue out? Why are you doing the rainbow thing,” are people who themselves are not free and are not able to be themselves. Anybody who’s free and who’s fully happy to be themselves will never criticize somebody else for being original from being a bit of fun. Take it all with a grain of salt. Be yourself. Remember that. Have fun. We’re on a floating rock that’s going super quickly through space around the diamond ball of fire. Have some fun. It’s not that serious. We’re talking monkeys. It’s crazy. Enjoy it.
The book is Glucose Revolution. I listened to it in Audible and there’s a physical book. You can go and get tons of information at @GlucoseGoddess and be part of it. If you have questions, you guys are a great community to one another. Also, eat your food in order. Try that. Eat food in order. Just experiment. I always remind people to be their own biggest advocates. How do you feel? Ask yourself and ask those questions. I appreciate the book and I’m excited to see what you’re going to do next. Did I forget anything? Do you want to wrap it out with anything or say anything?
No, I want to thank you Gabby for having me on, for your kind words, and for everything that you’re doing. It’s a real honor and pleasure so I hope we get to meet in person soon.
Thank you for your time, Jessie. Aloha.
Thanks so much for being here. If you’d like, rate, subscribe, and leave us a review. All of my music was graciously done by Frank Zummo and Tom Thacker. If you want to see some of the behind-the-scenes action, follow me at @GabbyReece. Remember, don’t miss new episodes every Monday.
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- Jessie Inchauspé
- Glucose Revolution
- NutriSense Continuous Glucose Monitor
- Dr. Lustig
About Jessie Inchauspé
Jessie is a biochemist, bestselling author, and product developer. She is the founder of Glucose Goddess, a movement helping people reconnect with their bodies. After a Bachelor’s in Mathematics and a Master’s in Biochemistry, Jessie moved to Silicon Valley to build apps that help people engage with their health. There, she became fascinated with the world of glucose and what we can learn from it.