April 1, 2022: Reflections for the body, mind, and spirit.
This month I'm sharing what I've discovered while experimenting with a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). This is a device that diabetics and those wanting to track their health, use to determine their insulin levels. I could write this whole newsletter on this one topic but instead will share some highlights and additional resources.
For ten days I wore a continuous glucose monitor to track my glucose levels. The one I used was from Dexcom. It inserts in the back of the arm. The information was transmitted to my phone so I could see my glucose numbers real time and be alerted if it was too low or too high (it never got too high).
What are optimal glucose levels? According to Dr. Casey Means, optimal metabolic fitness includes:
Fasting glucose between 72-85 mg/dl
Post-meal spikes that don’t exceed 110 mg/dl
Average glucose of 100 mg/dl each day
A minimal rise in glucose after eating
Quick return to baseline after eating
The ideal postprandial levels range from 78 mg/dl over two hours following the meal (in men) and 81 mg/dl over two hours following the meal (in women). A healthy fasting blood sugar that is normal for people without diabetes ranges from 70–99 mg/dl. Within two hours after a meal such as a large breakfast, lunch or dinner, levels should ideally be less than 140 mg/dl.
Now we have some optimal ranges discussed, let's understand glucose importance and its relation to insulin. Dr. Peter Attia explains the name of the game is glucose disposal. Can you maintain a low average level of glucose and a low variance of glucose and a low area under the curve of insulin? (the "area under the curve of insulin" refers to the amount of insulin displacement that occurs over the course of the day.)
Insulin is a pancreatic hormone which plays key roles in the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats. When tissue becomes less responsive to the effects of insulin, the pancreas must produce more and more insulin to maintain glucose homeostasis; this state is the state of insulin resistance. As Dr. Mark Hyman reminds us, high insulin levels are the first sign of a problem—they precede Type 2 diabetes by decades. The high insulin leads to an appetite that is out of control and increasing weight gain around the belly. Diabetes is often undiagnosed until later stages.
Key Takeaways and Interesting Observations
The highest my levels reached over 10 days were after consuming Panera chicken noodle soup and bread - it spiked to 140 mg/dl.
Foods containing high levels of carbohydrates i.e. pizza, did not significantly increase my blood glucose levels when consumed with protein and/or bitter melon extract (I used Kion Lean).
Performing my regular intermittent fasting (in this case 18 hours of not eating), did not make my blood glucose levels drop - my energy levels stayed consistent in the absence of food.
After consuming a meal, a slow to moderate walk lowered my blood glucose levels. In general, postprandial walks are a good way to prevent blood sugar from getting too high and to get rid of carbohydrate-related body fat you already have.
Other Keys to Maintaining Even Levels of Blood Glucose:
The order of food matters - eat vegetables first, proteins and fat second, and carbohydrates, starches and sugars last. Check out this video to understand why:
This study shows that consuming lemon juice lowered the glycemic response and increased both gastric secretions and emptying rates. In other words, there is a reduction of glycemic response when using lemon juice.
Bitter melon helps lower blood glucose levels, and it regulates the body’s use of insulin. Studies show extract can help reduce and manage symptoms of diabetes, including insulin resistance, heart complications, kidney damage, blood vessel damage, eye disorders and hormone irregularities.
Avoid "naked carbs" - anchor your carbs with a protein or healthy fat. Proteins and fats take three to four hours to digest so they mix with the carbohydrates you eat causing them to digest more slowly. This results in a slower, more sustained release of glucose into the bloodstream after eating which gives you more energy and longer satiety. This also gives a person with diabetes or glucose intolerance a much healthier post-meal glucose reading.
Oh the importance of breathing! Breathing techniques are tools for major transformation and healing. Breathwork hits the trifecta of impacting the body, mind, and spirit:
By breathing deeply, you can activate your parasympathetic nervous system, and in turn, slow down your heart rate and lower your blood pressure—creating a feeling of calm.
Deep breathing can also help calm and slow down the emotional turbulence in your mind.
Breathwork can also be spiritual. When you practice, you can move beyond your body and mind, and connect with your core spirit—your Self. In other words, you can remove your ego and connect to your true Self.
Breathing can have a profound effect on our health. I know this and have been doing a daily breathwork practice of box breathing (inhale 5 seconds/hold 5 seconds/exhale 5 seconds/hold 5 seconds - repeat). I wanted to take it further and to instill the discipline that it takes so I signed up for a course - SOMA Breath.
As their website states - Amongst some of the benefits you can experience include raising energy levels, cleansing and detoxing, activating relaxation responses, boosting the immune system, and promoting longevity and peak performance.
I experienced a deep connection to a higher power on my second yearly visit to the Grotto of the Miraculous Medal. Hours of prayer filled me with gratitude, humbleness, and stillness. When we take the time to silence our minds many great things come forth. It can be challenging to "just be". That's why it takes practice - it takes daily practice but is so well worth it.
Quote I'm liking this month
If you're in the business of wanting to live the healthiest life you can live, which means longer and better, you've got to be insulin sensitive, full stop. ~ Peter Attia, M.D.
To our reflection,
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See my last newsletter Body, Mind & Spirit…