After almost 15 years in practice, I think I can safely say that the two most powerful disruptors of health are chronic psychological stress and the poor diet choices that go along with it (not that these two variables need to go hand in hand, only that they often do). We’ve witnessed the erosion in our health for some time: shift work, fraying family units, smart phones (with the implicit expectation that we need to be ‘ON’ 24 hours a day 7 days a week), lack of social supports, and economic stressors in concert drive the need for easy, processed, hyperpalatable, and lamentably, nutritionally bankrupt foods. Is it really any surprise that our medical offices are congested with people desperate to alleviate their depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, migraines, insomnia, diabetes, and weight gain? Let’s be clear. These are diseases of civilization! Our bodies didn’t all of a sudden just decide to revolt against us to make us suffer in this way. Our lifestyles are overwhelming our body’s capacity to maintain balance during these unprecedented times and we are diminished as a result.
The good news is that if we can work in a few keys areas we can mitigate MUCH of the risk factors that leave us vulnerable to chronic disease.
By now, I think many people are starting to realize the pitfalls of eating without any regard for the consequences, especially as it relates to blood sugar. More and more my patients are coming in with an impressive understanding of:
- Glycemic index
- Glycemic load.
- Adequate protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and fat.
- The relationship between blood glucose/insulin/exercise.
- How stress can overwhelm glycemic control.
- The vicious cycle of insulin dependency and worsening insulin resistance.
However, we can know so much that simple solutions having tremendous benefit are often overlooked. In the context of blood sugar or glycemic control, our unsung hero today is apple cider vinegar (ACV). Beyond its use as a skin tonic, a household cleaner, a condiment, an antiseptic, a preservative, (you can even use it to kill weeds?!!), it also happens to be a very handy way to reduce morning blood sugars simply by consuming 2 tablespoons (diluted) at bedtime. In effect, it lowers fasting morning sugars, what diabetics know as the ‘dawn effect’, a phenomenon whereby morning blood sugars are higher independent of any meal consumed.
How it works isn’t well understood. Some researchers suggest that vinegar exerts a protective effect on the insulin response itself, improves satiety, and perhaps may inhibit salivary amylase (the enzyme that digests carbohydrate). Regardless of how it works, the data is clear.
- 2 teaspoons of ACV with a high carbohydrate meal reduces blood glucose and insulin by 34%.
- Vinegar to sushi rice lowered glycemic index by 40%.
- When consumed with peanuts (I know, random!) glycemic response was reduced by 55%.
I’m often asked: how should I eat to balance all these variables; to live my life, balance my health, and avoid risk factors for chronic disease?
This plate leaves lots of flexibility for Paleo diets, AIP diets, Vegetarian and vegan diets and even a “regular diet”. It simply requires that we stick to whole foods. I will add one more layer to this when considering how to build your plate:
50% of your calories should come from healthy fats.
25% of your calories should come from lean protein.
25% of your calories should come from complex carbohydrates.
Annnnd….. 2 tablespoons of unpasteurized apple cider vinegar before bed. Welcome to your health!
For more on Glycemic Control and apple cider vinegar, check out Jason Fung’s Website for more info. https://www.idm.health