Top 8 Tips to Optimize Your Blood Sugar Level

What’s going on, my fellow pre-diabetics?

I wish I could say I’m just kidding, but for some of you, that’s true!

We all need insulin to keep going, but many people are resistant to this hormone, which makes your body grow older faster than it should, putting you at risk for diabetes and other not-so-great conditions. Every time you eat something high in sugar, carbs and grains, your blood glucose levels shoot up faster than a rocket.

The good news is that this common problem is something you can still fix. Just try these eight tips to optimize your blood sugar levels.

Time your meals better

Compressing your eating window, or intermittent fasting, is a recognized approach to lose weight and reduce your risk of conditions such as diabetes, according to Harvard Health Publishing (https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/intermittent-fasting-surprising-update-2018062914156).

There are many different fasting protocols to choose from. One popular format is eating all meals within a window of six hours, and fasting for the other 18 hours.

Monitor your blood sugar

Pre-diabetes is medically defined as having a blood sugar level between 100 and 125 mg/d while fasting. With this number in mind, you can start testing your levels over the course of the day to see what is impacting yours.

Watch your blood ketones

A blood ketone test will tell you if you are in nutritional ketosis, a metabolic state during which your body decides to burn fat instead of carbs as its main fuel source. Once you start your fasting routine, you can see how you’re doing in this area, with a blood ketone level above 0.3 millimoles per liter being the goal.

Limit net carbs until further notice

Along with fasting, you’ll need a cyclical ketogenic diet. Here, you will have to radically limit your carbs and replace them with moderate protein amounts and healthy fats. Keep a food diary so know exactly how many total carbs and net carbs you’re eating each day.

Boost healthy fats

A key part of nutritional ketosis is replacing your lost carbs with healthy fats. Industrially processed vegetable oils, which are often in restaurant and processed foods, are out. Healthy fats include organic ghee, olive oil, coconut oil, coconut, olives, avocados, raw nuts, seeds and egg yolks.

Drink clean water

Stay away from sweetened drinks and opt for organic black coffee, tea and purified water. Everybody’s water needs are different, so consider how thirsty you are, the color of your urine–it should be light and not dark in color–and how often you go. Most people who drink enough water urinate seven to eight times daily, according to Medical News Daily (https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321461.php).

Eat more seeds and nuts

Seeds and nuts are not just high in healthy fats; they also have magnesium, which people are often deficient in. If you’re lacking this mineral, it can raise your risk of insulin resistance because it plays a part in your glucose and carb metabolism.

Commit to more exercise

Exercise does many things for your body, including helping it manage blood sugar levels better. Strength training in particular has been shown to help the body regulate glucose and reduce blood sugar level spikes after meals.

Don’t wait until you’re forced to do something about your blood sugar–get optimizing today!

2 Ways To Protect The Brain

No one wants to get older, but it’s a fact of life, folks! There’s no “growing old” gracefully, either. No magic clock is going to wind back and make you feel like a teenager again.

But there is good news, and I’m here to give it to you. You don’t have to just accept the aging of your brain and all the negative things that come with it. Take these two proven steps to keep your mind on the younger side.

Add omega-3 fatty acids to your diet

Researchers from the University of California at Irvine have found that the omega-3 fatty acid DHA might slow the growth of two lesions on the brain that are known indicators of Alzheimer’s disease (https://news.uci.edu/2007/04/17/omega-3-fatty-acid-may-help-prevent-alzheimers-brain-lesions/). In the study, researchers fed a control group of genetically modified mice the equivalent of the modern American diet with a 10:1 ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids. Three test groups received a 1:1 ratio, with one group receiving supplemental DHA alone and the two other groups getting DHA along with other omega-6 fatty acids.

At the end of three months, all three groups of mice had lower levels of the two proteins that cause the hallmark lesions, but at the nine-month mark, the mice on the DHA diet were the only ones with lower protein levels. This suggests that DHA is better taken alone than paired with omega-6 fatty acids.

Give your brain a workout

Treat your brain like you would any other muscle and exercise it!

You’ve probably already heard that activities that stimulate your mind can reduce your Alzheimer’s risk, but there’s actual proof this is true.

Researchers from the Chicago-based Rush Memory and Aging Project (https://www.judsonsmartliving.org/blog/lifelong-learning-as-we-age-benefits-both-mind-and-body/) conducted a study involving more than 1,200 seniors, and they found that a boost in cognitive activity by older adults left them 2.6 times less likely than their less cognitively-active counterparts to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Stimulating activities include things as simple as reading the newspaper or a book, playing chess and going to the theater. Even when researchers controlled for current physical and social activity levels, socioeconomic status and past cognitive activity, the benefits older adults receiving just by using their minds held strong.

You don’t have to love the idea of getting older to help keep your mind sharp; simply acknowledging that it will happen and taking the steps needed to protect your brain is enough.

What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Gluten?

What’s up, foodies?

If you’re like me and everyone else, you probably love bread, carbs and all that jazz, even if it’s not good for you. I’m sure you’ve heard enough about carbs to last you two lifetimes, and you probably feel the same way about gluten, but how much do you really know about this protein?

What gluten actually is

Gluten is a protein that has molecules known as gliadin and glutenin that make an elastic-type bond when they are mixed with water. This is why gluten is so often used in foods like cakes and breads, because it provides that spongy texture that bakers are usually after. It is also in many flours, brans and germs, which explains why it shows up in everything from pastas and beers to gravies, dressings and sauces.

While it does great things for baked goods, the same isn’t true for what it does to your body. Research indicates that gluten can cause harm because of some of the complications it can cause.

What gluten does

The major issue with gluten is that it can prevent the proper breakdown and absorption of nutrients from foods, and this happens whether those goods have gluten in them or not. This can prevent you from digesting things correctly since excess gluten can lead to the formation of a “glued” lump in your gut that causes constipation. That undigested gluten prompts your immune system to attack the lining of your small intestine, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation (https://celiac.org/about-celiac-disease/what-is-celiac-disease/), and can leave you with stomach pain, nausea, constipation or diarrhea.

Over time, eating too much gluten can make the inflammation and damage to your small intestine worse, leaving you short on nutrients you need for your body to work properly. At that point, you become vulnerable to a large variety of conditions, including osteoporosis, anemia and complications with your nervous system and liver, to name just a few.

People can be allergic to gluten, intolerant to gluten, sensitive to gluten or have a condition known as celiac disease. The disease is an autoimmune condition, according to Coeliac UK (https://www.coeliac.org.uk/information-and-support/coeliac-disease/about-coeliac-disease/gluten-sensitivity/) and not simply a food intolerance or sensitivity.

Gluten can be harmful to many people, and it can be hard to tell which side of the fence you fall on. Eliminating all gluten from your diet can help you determine whether you are suffering from any negative effects when you eat it.

Fasting Prevents and Halts Diabetes

You’ve probably seen people talking about fasting everywhere, but I have to admit, there’s a lot of conflicting info out there. As with a lot of things, the truth is somewhere in the middle: fasting isn’t a cure-all, but it does have some truly remarkable possibilities.

What if I told you that fasting may just be a way to stop diabetes from ever happening and even reverse it in some people? You may be thinking, “Hey, no way that’s true,” but I’m here to tell you that it is, and I’ve brought the research to prove it!

Although fasting can be a challenge and may sound daunting at first, this time-tested practice helps the body remove harmful substances and may just be the key to winning the fight against diabetes.

Improving insulin sensitivity with fasting

Many studies have found that fasting might boost sensitivity to insulin, support weight management when combined with exercise, and even possibly reverse diabetes. One such study was recently presented at the annual Digestive Disease Week professional conference (https://ddw.org/attendee-planning/online-planner).

Based on the fasting practices for prayer that Muslims follow during Ramadan, this study followed 14 people in good health who regularly fasted for 15 hours per day (from dawn to dusk) over a 30-day period. Blood samples were taken from the participants before they began the religious fast and at the end of the final week of fasting, and an additional blood sample was taken one week after their fasts ended.

The researchers found that the 30-day fast had raised the participants’ levels of tropomyosin (TPM) proteins, which boost insulin resistance and lessen the negative effects of a high-sugar diet. Increased levels of TPM 1, 3 and 4 were present in the participants’ blood samples. TPM 3 in particular plays a central role in boosting insulin sensitivity, which results in better control over blood glucose levels.

The research team was led by Dr. Ayse Leyla Mindikoglu, a professor at Houston’s Baylor College, who added that feeding and fasting can have a significant effect on how the body creates and uses the proteins needed for lowering insulin resistance and maintaining a healthy weight.

Fasting might promote the growth of pancreatic beta cells

Established research scientist James DiNicolantonio explored the outcomes of several studies in the Open Heart medical journal (https://openheart.bmj.com/content/openhrt/6/1/e001028.full.pdf?ct), all of which found that repeated fasting episodes may trigger the growth of pancreatic beta cells in mouse-model experiments. The growth comes from an increased expression of a protein that is part of the process that leads to the pancreatic beta cells responsible for producing insulin.

In the animal studies, the boost in these cells also came with an improvement in blood sugar control. In Type 1 diabetes, these beta cells are nearly destroyed, something that also happens in the latter stages of severe Type 2 diabetes. Therefore, it’s possible this could lead to a way to reverse Type 2 diabetes, according to DiNicolantonio. The research scientist recommends practicing a diabetes-preventive lifestyle, with intermittent fasting a good option for those who don’t respond.

Avoiding breakfast before exercising might boost weight management efforts

Do you ever get flak from family members for skipping breakfast? If so, listen up. A recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition examined the effects of a person skipping breakfast before working out in the morning (https://academic.oup.com/jn/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/jn/nxz018/5440571?redirectedFrom=fulltext). In this study, 12 fit and active young men ate a breakfast of milk and oats followed by resting during one stage, ate the same breakfast and worked out for 60 minutes in the next stage, and then fasted overnight and worked out the next morning before they ate in the third stage.

The researchers in this study found that the men who fasted before exercise ate 400 fewer calories throughout the day when compared to those who ate and rested or ate and exercised. Javier Gonzalez of the University of Bath, who led the study, theorized that working out on an empty stomach may lead to a calorie deficit and not overeating. Since obesity is often a factor in diabetes, effective weight management is part of the program for preventing it.

It’s time to take control of your health and start living life the way you were meant to. While a lot of people all over the world have diabetes, you don’t have to develop it! Start acting now to get back to your best self, with fasting as a key to open that locked door.