By Fatima Costalaurent
Certified IIN Health Coach and EWC Herbalist
In today’s world the hot topic is the novel bug. We’ve heard about practicing proper hygiene, the benefits of wearing a mask and how we must distance ourselves from fellow human beings. What we don’t hear enough of is how we can lessen our risk and what we can do to stay healthy. We now know that some of the biggest risk factors are age, pre-existing conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and autoimmune conditions. So what can we do about this? A LOT! Our metabolic health is in our hands and food is our best friend. Through proper eating, we can ensure our metabolism is functioning at its best and we may reverse pre-existing conditions or avoid developing any of the risk factors altogether.
Let’s start by understanding what our metabolism is and why it’s so important in keeping us healthy. Basically, it is a set of reactions in our body which turn food into energy. So, you can imagine the state of your digestive system is of paramount importance, right? Every time we eat, as soon as we start chewing our food, chemical messengers start signaling our brain and organs as to how much and which hormones need to be released into the blood stream. Our Pancreas is a key player in this process of balancing energy distribution. It is in charge of releasing Insulin into the blood stream to help usher glucose, from our food, into the cells, where it will be stored or turned into energy. Inside our cells, we have little power plants called Mitochondria, which rule how energy is produced and utilized in our bodies. In order for these processes to run smoothly, we must make sure to keep our blood glucose levels balanced. Too much and we can tilt towards Insulin resistance or diabetes, you might feel sluggish or sleepy and crave sugary foods or hungry soon after a meal. Too little and we go into hypoglycemia, feeling tired, cold, foggy headed, jittery, hungry and weak.
All foods that enter our digestive tract will be broken down and turned into glucose, which will travel through the blood stream. Insulin will transport the glucose into your Liver and muscles for future use, when those 2 tanks are full, it gets turned into fat or linger in the blood stream, resulting in high insulin and triglyceride levels.
When your metabolism is working properly, your body has the ability to shift from using glucose stored in muscles and liver, to dipping into our reserves and using fat as fuel. This is called metabolic switching and its the way we are meant to live. When we over eat, eat too many processed and refined foods, too little protein and fat and don’t exercise, this gets out of balance and we become permanently inflamed leading to all sorts of chronic and degenerative diseases.
How do you know if your metabolism needs a tune up? Ideally, you should be able to have 3 well balanced meals and there should be no snacking in between. If you get hungry soon after a meal, it means it was either unbalanced (too little protein, too many carbs, not enough fiber or fat) or your body has been accustomed to using glucose for fuel and has forgotten how to dip into the fat stores for energy.
Here are some tips to tweak your metabolism:
- Make sure to have 3 full meals, comprised of: 20-30g of protein+10g fiber+ healthy fats+ green vegetables. This could be a big greens salad + 4-6 oz of tofu or chicken + ¼ cup of sprouted lentils and a nice olive oil based dressing without sweeteners.
- Fast for at least 12 hours per day and no more than 14 if you are a woman of child bearing age
- Exercise daily, just 30min of exercise helps you use up circulating glucose so your body can dip into its stores and maintain a healthy balance.
- Get your sunshine, Mitochondria need solar energy to work optimally. Vitamin D supplementation will also support their tasks.
- Make sure you are having a daily bowel movement
- Stay hydrated, dehydration may cause glucose to spike and crash, creating hunger and cravings.
- Sleep is paramount in keeping our metabolism healthy. Lack of sleep kicks up our Grhelin production, making us hungry and craving sweets and starchy carbs. Ideally 6-8 hrs per night, bedtime before 11pm.
- Get morning light for 5-10 min as a minimum. Morning light shuts off Melatonin production, kicks up Serotonin and makes us more Insulin sensitive, which helps us regulate apetite and energy usage.
- Moderate your alcohol consumption. Your Liver will demand higher levels of insulin to be able to process alcohol, leading to fat storage and elevated triglycerides.
- Emphasize carbs wrapped in fiber, cellular carbs: beans, whole grains, fibrous vegetables and seeds. Eat real, whole food.
- Add Cinnamon, 1tsp once or twice daily, also helps keep glucose within normal range. You can add it to meals for less of a spike.
Having irregular blood glucose and Insulin levels can cause issues ranging from Infertility, PCOS, PMS, Thyroid problems, acne, irregular periods and weight gain, to diabetes, hyperlipidemia, stroke, kidney malfunction and dementia. So, make sure your meals are balanced and you take care of any irregularities before they become a problem.