The Truth About Blood Sugar Imbalances – Podcast #55
Dr. Justin Marchegiani and Evan Brand talk about blood sugar and imbalances that lead to hypoglycemia and diabetes. They discuss about the glycation process to better understand how sugar affects our body. Find out how to tell if you’re insulin-resistant and what a blood sugar meter is by listening to this interesting podcast.
This interview also gives us pointers on nutrients to take that will help with blood sugar stability. Discover the benefits of Kombucha, cinnamon and eating every 4-5 hours with enough healthy fats and proteins. Dr. Justin also talks about his Meal Matrix and how to apply blood sugar stability techniques in this podcast. Get to know what supplements to take which can further aid in stabilizing your blood sugar.
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Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Hey there, it’s Dr. J! Evan, how we doing today, man?
Evan Brand: I am doing great. What about you? I never ask you how you’re doing. How are you?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I’m doing great. We’re actually stepping it up for all of the listeners today. I just got a–awesome new microphone based on your suggestion. So we’re just trying to get the quality better. We got a better Wi-Fi connection at the office, 200 megabytes per second. It’s like, man, I’m cooking with fire here.
Evan Brand: Yeah, totally. Cooking–cooking your brain, too, if you ask some people.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: But if I’m cooking, it’s gonna be a high quality saturated fat with a high smoke point, right?
Evan Brand: Totally.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I’m not gonna use any of these canola oil or olive oil crap.
Evan Brand: Definitely not.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Awesome. Olive oil’s good but it’s better for salad dressing, folks. I’m not–I’m not dissing olive oil.
Evan Brand: Yeah, just cold use only.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Cold use only. Yeah, absolutely. Well, on that note, we were kinda chatting pre-show that we wanted to chat about blood sugar. Blood sugar is a super important issue and we kinda have like the blood sugar functional imbalances which is what a lot of people deal with, and then we have the extremes where we have hypoglycemia where people, you know, they get dizzy. They get lightheaded. They may even pass out or have a, you know, what’s called syncope in the medical world, or the other extreme which is diabetes, where our blood sugar goes super high and it’s creating all of this glycation and free radical damage and all of the deleterious effects that come with diabetes.
Evan Brand: Yup. Yeah, blood sugar issues, they’re not only for people that have diabetes or that have pre-diabetes, I mean, for people listening, if you consider yourself even extremely healthy or you’re an athlete or you’re somebody that uses your brain, you’re high–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yup.
Evan Brand: Functioning business executive, blood sugar is just as if not more important to you as well.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Absolutely, again it’s like blood sugar goes too high, it creates a stress response because of the fact that it starts coding all of our proteins in our blood vessels with sugar. This is called glycation and this glycation is kinda the same thing that happens if you go to the restaurant and get crème brulee. You pull out the blowtorch and you just kinda crisp that top layer of the crème brulee and it turns brown. That’s kinda what’s happening in your arteries when you have this whole glycation process going. So when next time you’re, you know, eating a whole bunch of sugar, picture yourself pulling out a blowtorch. And again, this isn’t like a one-time thing. This is more of a chronic thing, right? If we’re healthy, our insulin receptors are gonna be sensitive and we’re gonna be able to pull that blood sugar into our cell but the more those cells become numb, right? The more you go and play ding dong ditch to the neighbor, they’re just not gonna open up the door after you ring like the fifth time, right?
Evan Brand: Totally. Great analogy as always! Yeah, insulin resistance is huge and how–how do I know if I’m insulin-resistant? Well, I tell people, if you go look in the mirror and you’re overweight, you’re likely insulin-resistant. So that’s probably my best way of identifying, obviously you could do lab testing and stuff like that, but what about you Dr. J? Would you say that’s a–a safe bet there?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, I would actually say off the bat, your blood sugar meter is right around your tummy. So for men you want it below 40 inches. For women, you want it below 35 inches around your tummy. Also, get a blood sugar meter. I’m gonna do a live test, so as we’re recording I’m actually gonna pull up my blood sugar and I will share it with all the listeners.
Evan Brand: Okay, so–so while you’re doing that, we’ll do the caveat that it obviously depends on what you ate, if you did eat breakfast, if you’re fasted, things like that, but typically I like to see people around I’d say 70 starting to get low but I’d say somewhere close between the 70 and 80 range for blood sugar. Obviously if you’re above a hundred, then you start getting into the pre-diabetic state and things like that.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, I just pricked myself if you guys heard me scream in the background, that’s what it was. Alright, yeah, so I agree. I think somewhere between 75–I would even go up to 90. I mean, if you’re doing a fasting blood sugar, a healthy stress response can cause your blood sugar to accumulate. Alright, I’m getting a reading right on it now. Evan, seeing me, 3 seconds. Alright, so right now, my blood sugar’s actually a little bit high. It’s 110. Now I–
Evan Brand: What did you eat for breakfast?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I just had 4 eggs for breakfast. Now so typically you want to be–I ate about 4 hours ago–it could possibly be why my blood sugar is this high right now, I just had 4 eggs and some bulletproof coffee, so I had absolutely zero carbs. It could be one, I did have some potato chips last night that I typically don’t have. Or number two, it’s time for me to eat and my adrenals are kinda ramping up some adrenaline. I mean, I ate around 8 o’clock this morning, so it’s been about almost 5 hours. So 110 typically is a little high for me, blood sugar-wise. The problem with a blood sugar meter like this, you don’t really know if it’s dietary-induced or if it’s because your adrenals are ramped up.
Evan Brand: Right.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Like if you got a little bit of stress, you’re doing some things, that cortisol can push your blood sugar up a little bit and it may not be a bad thing if your body is utilizing it for energy, right? So you gotta look at it from the perspective of one, you know, what are you eating? Two, you know, do a functional glucose tolerance, meaning eat your meals, see how it goes, one, two and three hours after a meal, and then leave one of these on your desk and just do it periodically throughout the day. The biggest problem is you don’t get a window into insulin because you may be pumping out a whole bunch of insulin to drop that blood sugar back down. Insulin’s job is to pull the sugar into the cell. Now, if someone’s at 110 like myself but is pumping out twice the amount of insulin that I am, that’s a problem. So people can overcompensate by having more insulin to pull that blood sugar in. So the biggest issues with these, they don’t look at insulin and they don’t look at cortisol levels. If we get a blood sugar meter that looks at insulin and cortisol, man, that is like–that is amazing. I would just get one of these for every one of my patients.
Evan Brand: Totally. Yeah, so you talked about being high for a couple of reasons, also you’re standing up right now, you’re moving around, you’re–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.
Evan Brand: Excited about talking, so I mean, you are kinda rising to the occasion, that may be somewhat of a natural response that you just measured.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, I mean, I’m at a standing desk here. I just, you know, we’re–we’re talking, we’re jazzing, I’m moving as we talk. When we get this podcast on video, people will see how–how annoying I look bouncing back and forth. So yeah, you can get some of that sugar up there. I wish you had a meter so we could do yours; we could have a comparison.
Evan Brand: I know, I need to buy one. Isn’t there–isn’t there a recommend–a website that you recommended where they basically just hand out free glucometers–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.
Evan Brand: Like it’s nothing.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, they totally–this one, I’m gonna pull it up right now in my Gmail. Gimme one second, I’ll do it live for everyone so they get access to it.
Evan Brand: Cool.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, the website is choosefreestyle.com. So www dot choosefreestyle dot com. Go to beyondwellnessradio.com or notjustpaleo to get the transcriptions of that so you can see the–the link on that.
Evan Brand: That’s great.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So we have our at-home test like I mentioned. I talked about some of the limitations that happen in that but the blood sugar rollercoaster that most of our patients, Evan, I think we would both agree are on, it’s this if you’re not at the diabetes state, which is just your blood sugar’s high across the board the whole time, then we’re in this reactive hypoglycemic state where we eat a meal that may be a little bit high in sugar, our pancreas freaks out, shoots out a whole bunch of insulin which brings that blood sugar back down but it brings it back down a little bit too low, maybe in the low 70s, maybe in the 60s, and we get a stress response. Now our body then comes and brings a whole bunch of cortisol and adrenalin to the table to bring that blood sugar back up. Now again, the problem with that is you may not see it reflected on the glucose tolerance test if you test too late because again, the adrenals and the cortisol and the adrenalin will raise that blood sugar back up and you may not see it being raised up by the–by the adrenals but a lot of times you can feel it. You may feel a little bit jittery. You may feel a little bit lightheaded, a little bit flighty, a little bit hard to focus, kind of a tired but wired feeling. So you know how that feels. Everyone can think of a time where they had sugar as a kid, they were bouncing off the walls, then they crashed.
Evan Brand: Yeah, totally. And I drink Mountain Dew so I know very well what that Mountain Dew crash did to me. I mean, I even have a video. I think was like 3. It’s so sad. My–my brain wasn’t even developed. My skull was probably still soft and here I am drinking Mountain Dew, but–and then I was filmed crashed out with my blanket and my milk probably afterwards.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Wait, did you say that you currently drink Mountain Dew?
Evan Brand: No, I do not currently.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh.
Evan Brand: I did when I was maybe, I think I was like 3 when I had my first dose of it and I was on video camera. I think my dad filmed me at the cabin drinking Mountain Dew and it was hilarious and awful.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I almost thought I was gonna have to give you 5 Paleo demerits for that one, Evan.
Evan Brand: No, I actually did drink a “soda” today. I have the Live Kombucha Soda. Thank you Live for the revived root beer. It is delicious. 9 grams of sugar but this is the best Kombucha that I’ve–that I’ve had.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh, that great. Actually because we’re talking about blood sugar. We talked about the up and down. We talked about the blood sugar rollercoaster. One thing that’s getting super trendy are Kombuchas. They’re becoming like the new soda and a lot of the Kombuchas have a fair amount of sugar in them. Now the one that you just mentioned is actually in the middle. It’s not–
Evan Brand: Yeah.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: It’s not good but it’s not bad. I–I’ll name names, screw it. Buddha’s Brew, Kosmic. There’s a couple down here in Austin. They got as much sugar as Coke and I’m gonna do a video on this real soon. My fave is GT Dave’s.
Evan Brand: Yup.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I like the ginger–the Gingerade. It’s got 2 grams of sugar, so much–
Evan Brand: Per serving?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Per serving.
Evan Brand: I think it’s per serving, yeah–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.
Evan Brand: So it’s 4–4 grams per bottle which is what? 16 ounces?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, I think it’s a little less. I think less than 16 ounces per bottle, right? I think it’s like 12 ounces per bottle, so it’s 1-1/2, I think it’s 3 grams. I was putting hairs there but yeah, it’s around 3-4 grams of sugar per bottle, right?
Evan Brand: So about a teaspoon?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Not bad.
Evan Brand: Not bad–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Not bad.
Evan Brand: Compared to 20 plus of grams of sugar like some of the others.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, plus you can justify it, 3-4 grams isn’t bad because you’re getting ginger which is an anti-inflammatory herb. It’s a prokinetic. It helps with, you know, gastric releasing. It’s–it helps with the lymphatic system. It’s also a natural, you know, stimulator of hydrochloric acid. It’s a bitter. It’s also–it’s also got B vitamins in the drink. It’s also got probiotics and lactobacillus–no, more I think, more saccharomyces boulardii which is great for fungus and yeast. So a lot of good benefits by drinking a conventional Kombucha that’s like, you know, your–the GT Dave’s brand is my fave. Either Trilogy or ginger–Gingerade.
Evan Brand: Yeah, as long as you’re not drinking like 5 a day. I’ve had a couple people drinking like 5 a day and it’s a true addiction, and then you can run into some issues there with yeast. I don’t have any studies or anything to prove it, but I’ve just seen people that are drinking way too much have problems.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, I agree. Like yesterday I went on my boat and typically I’ll avoid drinking alcohol and I’ll justify it to myself by buying like 2 or 3 Kombuchas. So I get that good, you know, that good feel, that good, you know, elixir feeling that you get when you drink those Kombuchas, but I can at least justify it by not having the alcohol. It’s kinda my–my exchange if you will.
Evan Brand: Right, right. Yeah, so let’s talk about controlling the blood sugar a little bit. I’m sure you were gonna end up there by I have this–I have this particular nutrient on my mind that I just wanted to talk about, and that nutrient is cinnamon. And I really love cinnamon. I add it to my smoothies. I’ll do some organic–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yup.
Evan Brand: Blueberries, almond milk, some grass-fed whey, I’ll throw some cinnamon in there and I do that just because it tastes amazing for one and two, cinnamon acts in a way as a–as an insulin substitute so to speak. There’s a –a compound in there and it’s way too hard to pronounce, but it’s MHCP is what it is. And it basically gives the same biological activity as insulin itself so it basically increases the uptake of glucose by the cell but it can stimulate glycogen synthesis as well so I mean, it’s kind of a multifactorial little nutrient that you can really do good things with and my wife, she’ll actually add a little bit of cinnamon on top of her–she has a little reusable K-cup for Keurig which I’m not the biggest fan of the Keurigs because of plastic and whatever, who knows?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yup.
Evan Brand: But anyway, she’ll add some cinnamon on top of her coffee there and brew it. If–if you–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yup.
Evan Brand: Try to stir in the cinnamon to the cup of coffee, it doesn’t really work but if she actually adds it on top of the grounds and then brews it, it–it just smells amazing. I don’t really drink much coffee, but it smells amazing and I know that it helps her blood sugar because she comes home and she didn’t have to snack between breakfast/coffee and lunch. So that’s how I know that her blood sugar is better than it used to be. She used to have to have like a little protein bar or something in her pocket at all times in case she needed a snack, some kinda hypoglycemia sign there, but now she’s able to just kinda leave the house with just a bottle of water and–and be fine.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That’s great. Yeah, that’s really good. Like with my blood sugar stability, I do insulin. I use a Granny Smith apple at night as my dessert, typically on most nights. I’ll cut it up. I’ll sprinkle it over with cinnamon and maybe have a little bit of almond butter with it. Again Granny Smith’s got about half the amount of sugar as normal apples and then you add the cinnamon to it, that’s a pretty good place to go. Again the big tips I try to follow myself and I just did a video on this recently, I think you had an anecdote last week where you mentioned you had a real stressful day. You had a light–a light lunch and then you were feeling a little bit of palpitations and anxiety and we were thinking that it probably blood sugar induced. You wanna–
Evan Brand: Oh–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Talk about that?
Evan Brand: Totally, yeah. We were on the phone for something. I think we were talking about the microphone but I said, “Man.” I said, “I don’t know what’s going on.” I said, “I guess my blood sugar got to me again,” because you and I were doing the podcast, and here it was maybe 3–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.
Evan Brand: 3 or 4 in the afternoon, and I either had a very light lunch or I just didn’t have a lunch. Maybe I had–maybe I had to see someone and then I had to a podcast and then something, I don’t know. Anyway, I was not a good 3 square meal a day eater and my blood sugar got low and I was feeling pretty awful at first, you know, kind of the fatigue, the–maybe the irritability, moodiness, things like that and then when it gets to the more extreme level, at least for me, the more extreme low, that’s when I start even having the anxiety, that cortisol-adrenalin feel, the fight or flight mode where I just wanna–I don’t know if I should run down the street or hide under a blanket. You know that sort of anxiety feeling. So as soon as I went and actually ate something–I don’t know if I just ate some Kerrygold butter by the spoonful or what I did, but once I got that blood sugar under control, I had an immediate relief. So that’s how I know that I’m still dealing with a little bit of hypoglycemia stuff myself.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, you know, it’s like one of biggest things you can do to take stress off your adrenals is stabilize your blood sugar. So if you’re under a lot of stress–I’m a big fan of eating every 4 or 5 hours, I don’t necessarily like every 2 or 3, I feel like you’re just pumping out too much insulin and you’re not letting your body utilize ketones for fuel, so I do like the every 4-5 hours. I think a lot of people in the ketogenic, in the low carb world, because they’re spitting out so much ketones–ketones are natural appetite suppressants as well, so it’s for them just to skip meals, but the problem is ketones aren’t nutrients. Like ketones aren’t like B vitamins or vitamin C or fat-soluble like, you know, DHEA, E–EPA stuff. They aren’t nutrients per se. They are a fuel source just like sugar’s a fuel source, right? But they aren’t nutrients and we need nutrients. Our body and our mitochondria and our cells run off of nutrients so eating 4-5 hours delivers the nutrients you need and if you’re under stress, your body’s going to need nutrients and if you’re under stress, your body will spit out sugar via gluconeogenesis and surprise, surprise, but gluconeogenesis is cortisol-dependent. So that means you gotta mobilize all the sugar or glucose via cortisol, via your adrenal glands. And that can be a problem if your adrenal glands are already a little bit stressed or if you’re burning the candle at both ends.
Evan Brand: Oh, totally, yeah. And that I’d say 80% plus of the people that we see are doing that exact thing, maybe not on purpose but by the time they get in to see us, they’re already so burnt out and now they wanna–that now they wanna get help and it takes time to fix this stuff, you know, it–it didn’t–your blood sugar didn’t just go haywire overnight. It may have but this–this state–this stuff takes time so it takes time to fix it, too. But yeah, getting in, you know, the good–I mean, even eggs, that’s awesome. The Kombucha we’ve mentioned. We mentioned the cinnamon. You mentioned the eating frequency every 4-5 hours. Maybe we should talk just a little bit about more of the food side of things. I mean, people yet–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.
Evan Brand: People, they know every 4-5 hours, but I think people forget the importance of getting enough healthy fats and proteins.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.
Evan Brand: Because that is what you need. You’re not going to stabilize your blood sugar by eating some type of carb or quick, like rice crispy snack.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. One of the things that I’ve created that helps is called the Meal Matrix. And the Meal Matrix is just a simple list of macronutrients. It’s got your proteins in one column, your carbs in another column, and your fats in the third column, and it’s got herbs and spices in the second column. But your proteins are your proteins. And again I like people eating full fat proteins, meaning not boneless skinless chicken breast but you know, if you’re doing chicken breast, you know, do it with the skin on or do the chicken thigh which is even better with the skin on, which is what I’m having for dinner tonight by the way. And then you have your carbohydrate column, which I break carbohydrates up into 3 categories. Non-starchy–non-starchy are more of your vegetable-based carbs, high in nutrition, low in sugar. Your starchy, but safe starchy, meaning no grains, so potatoes, sweet potatoes, yucca, plantains, squash, alright those are our starchy ones. And then our low sugar fruits or low glycemic fruits. These are our berries, our lemon, our lime, our grapefruit, our passion fruit. These fruits are–they dissolve to sugar in our bloodstream slower than let’s say our tropical variety like pineapple and watermelon and–and mango, as good as they are, they could be just like candy. So–
Evan Brand: Oh yeah, especially the dried ones.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh, my gosh, yeah. And then the third list is the fats. So typically we’re either eating a fat that’s combined with a protein or we’re cooking with the fat or we’re putting fat on our veggies like coconut oil or grass-fed butter or avocado oil, or good quality nuts if you’re not autoimmune or you’re not too sensitive. Things like that and I typically recommend starting between 3-6 ounces of protein per meal and a good recommendation is anywhere between a palm–palm-size to a fist to a full hand. So again, bigger people, bigger hands, right? So palm’s about 3 ounces, fist is about 4 and a full hand is about 6. So I like people using body parts because you’re typically up there and you can like eat, always use that hand as a good frame of reference so when you’re serving yourself some food, and the more stressed you are, the more protein you need because protein gets utilized for neurotransmitters. It gets utilized for detoxification and if we put it in there, it acts like a log on the fire, on that blood sugar fire. So again, logs typically last about 4 hours, 5 hours on the fire, so think about it like your metabolic fire–you wanna throw that log on there so you have about 5 hours in between having to put more logs on there. Logs being protein and fat and then the carbohydrates are like the kindling, right? We need just a little bit of spark there to get things moving and that could be some non-starchy vegetables, broccoli, asparagus, kale, spinach, etc. and depending on how insulin-sensitive you are, maybe some low sugar fruit, maybe a little bit of starch, again I’m a big fan of backloading my carbs, doing a more at night and then almost doing no carbs outside of the non-starchy variety during the day. So that’s a good general way in which I teach my patients how to apply blood sugar stability techniques.
Evan Brand: Good stuff. Yeah, I’ve also experimented with doing the carbs like some organic white rice. I’ll try that with dinner and then I’ll try it with breakfast. It doesn’t work with breakfast as much, man. I–I crashed. It’s a completely different feel than if I have the rice with dinner and say some steak and then I’ll throw some aminos on there of some sort. I sleep way better that way but the morning time, it’s just not a good time so I–I stay, I wouldn’t say ketogenic but maybe, very, very low carb for–for morning, for breakfast time, mostly just pure fat and protein.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, I think our body is just more naturally insulin-resistant in the morning. I think a lot of this has to do with the cortisol levels. So if you look at a–a diurnal cortisol rhythm, our cortisol is much higher in the morning and drops throughout the day, and because cortisol, it’s a glucocorticosteroid–first part of that word is gluco, it helps with blood sugar stability and energy, so if we have a high amount of cortisol, then we’re already gonna be pumping glucose naturally as I just showed you on my blood sugar meter. So it makes if we already have that natural stimulation, don’t add more fuel to that metabolic fire so to speak.
Evan Brand: Yeah, we don’t need to add it too high because then that may create a larger hill for you to come back down, you’re saying.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly. That’s kind of the deal. So the diet and lifestyle part is super important. I like doing about 3 meals every 4-5 hours, maybe 1 snack in between there if we have a longer break. Like let’s say, some patients they are having their lunch around noon or one, then maybe their family gets home and out of school like around 7, so there’s a 7-hour window there. So they may need a nice need for a good clean protein shake or a mini-meal. I hate the word snack, because snacks are typically imbalanced, right?
Evan Brand: Yeah.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Like I’m gonna go snack on some blueberries. You mean, you’re gonna just throw some carbohydrate in your body? That’s gonna probably mess up your blood sugar if you’re just throwing that without anything else in it.
Evan Brand: Yeah, it–it’s kinda sad. I don’t know how carbohydrates in general or carbohydrates are snacks. Snacks have become carbohydrate. Like–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.
Evan Brand: When somebody says they want a snack, I think of like pretzels and potato chips and ice cream and cookies. I don’t think of–I mean, I should think of avocados and coconut oil and spoon feeding butter, but the culture of–of the snack mentality has been so perpetuated by the big food marketing industry–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.
Evan Brand: That no one even knows what the hell a good snack is.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, exactly. And again, carbohydrates are the cheapest foods out there so it makes sense why this is crap that’s, you know, shoved down our–our mouths or, you know, to our faces on TV, right? So what are some healthy snacks? Well, one, a good clean protein shake. I like a good clean whey protein, pea protein or beef protein, you know, without any additives, you know, some good coconut milk in there, maybe you throw a few berries in; maybe a few berries that’s okay because we’re getting some protein and fat which kinda stabilize it out, that could be good. It could be like an EPIC bar. EPIC bars are great. Some good clean grass-fed beef jerky, that’s a really good thing. Scoop of coconut oil and maybe a couple of bites of an avocado or maybe a bite or two of your lunch’s leftover, that’s always good.
Evan Brand: I know for you, dealing with autoimmunity yourself, you may stay away from corn at all. I’m not sure. Do you do corn at all?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I try to always stay away from that. I did have some last week at a restaurant but it was confirmed to be 100% gluten-free. It was even in its own bag and, so there was no cross-contamination or anything. So if I can confirm its–its quality, I will indulge from time to time–
Evan Brand: Okay.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Like once or twice a month.
Evan Brand: Because what I was gonna say is my little guilty pleasure snack, Target of all places, yes, Target the store, they have the best organic blue corn chips. I feel like I may have even have told you this before, but they do them the traditional way, with the trace of lime and the sea salt then it’s the organic blue corn which has more nutrients than your white or yellow corn and anyway, Hannah, she’ll come home–my wife she’ll come home and she’ll get a fat avocado and she’ll open it up and throw in some–some spices in there and we’ll just eat that as a snack. I mean, we’ll split an avocado; there’s nothing better.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Evan, that is 3 Paleo demerits. No, I’m kidding. That’s good. That’s good. I mean, I do the Boulder chips that are organic.
Evan Brand: Yeah, Boulder’s good. Yeah.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That are non-GMO certified and that are cooked in the avocado oil.
Evan Brand: Yeah.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And I’ll do that with–we’ll have like some grass-fed beef in a bowl and then we’ll have some avocado that’s like crushed up in a guacamole essentially with a little bit of lime and stuff, and we’ll just scoop the–the meat on there and scoop the guacamole on there and it’s like amazing. Little bit of carbs, but you get some good quality protein and fat, too.
Evan Brand: That sounds good. I actually just got my grandparents to convert from either Lay’s or Ruffles or whatever garbage it was to the Boulder chips and they actually have the avocado oil, you know, there’s a sea salt black pepper one, that’s probably one you get. That’s the best one to me.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yup.
Evan Brand: And then there’s the–there’s an olive oil one now but I’m guessing they cook it in olive oil–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That’s why.
Evan Brand: They probably ruined it, so–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, I would not touch it. Last night I got so–my wife and I got so gassy, we had the–some chips at Whole Food and they were like organic, like non-GMO. They were cooked in coconut oil, so I’m like, “I’m gonna try this.” Looked at the back and it has just a little bit of fructose in it and it also had a little bit of rice dextrin. So like kinda like rice starch. I’m like, “Why the hell do they put this crap in here?” I’m like, “I’ll give it try.” And there was no sugar. No added sugar on the ingredients, so I’m like, “At the very end, you know, it’s not a big deal.” I tried it and I could really taste the sweetness on the chips.
Evan Brand: Yeah.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And they were salt and vinegar. I’m like, “Well, I don’t want sweet when it comes to salt and vinegar. I want that salty flavor.” So I said, “Never again.” So stay away from those chips. Salt and vinegar.
Evan Brand: Oh, why would they–why would they add fructose? That makes no sense.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Dude, I know, man! I like–I went against my Paleo intuition and said, “I’ll give it a try. It’s a good company. It’s GMO, it’s organic-free, I can’t find a better alternative.” But yeah, you gotta go with that gut instinct sometimes.
Evan Brand: Oh, gosh! I know, I can’t think of a particular nutrient or food but I’ve done several times where I go to get something. I’m like, “Oh, I probably shouldn’t.” And I just take a couple of bites anyway and it’s like it wasn’t even worth it, like the Reptilian brain overwhelmed my–my prefrontal cortex.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, I think some of my blood sugar that we just tested here a few minutes ago is potentially part of the repercussions of that.
Evan Brand: Oh, so that was yesterday.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: It could be. It’s possible. I’ll do my blood sugar again tomorrow and if it’s better around this time of day, you know, same kind of breakfast, then I’m gonna know that it was–it was the dinner before. It–
Evan Brand: Yup, yup. Well, did you have anything else on this–on this food journey of blood sugar? I think we covered a lot of it, but I know there’s other pieces to the puzzle that we haven’t even covered and I don’t know if we have time to.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I think let’s just touch upon some of the supplements. Some of the things that I use with my patients for blood sugar stability is we’ll give some additional support with alpha lipoic acid. We’ll use chromium. I’ll use herbs like jemima and bitter melon, and what a lot of these nutrients are doing is they’re helping with the blood sugar receptor site. It’s helping with insulin receptor sensitivity. It’s helping with blood sugar sensitivity. What that means is, is that when our body takes in blood sugar, that blood sugar comes into our bloodstream, the more insulin numb we are, the more insulin we have to make, and that’s a stress around the body. So if we have these nutrients there, what it does is that it allows us to make less insulin and to pull that blood sugar into our cell and utilize it for energy better and more efficiently without this big bolus of insulin. Remember the insulin is inflammatory. You just go into PubMed, type in hyperinsulinemia or hyperinsulin, that means high insulin in medical speak, and disease you want and you will find a correlation between hyperinsulin and cancer and autoimmune conditions and diabetes of course, any type of disease you will find that connection. So those nutrients help with the receptor site sensitivity and allow your body to need to make less insulin and help your body deal with the blood sugar better. But if you’re using those supplements and you’re not making a diet change, it’s just a Band-Aid and it’s not gonna work long term.
Evan Brand: Right and yeah and I mean chromium is found in foods but some of the foods that chromium is–is found in, a lot of people aren’t eating, like calves liver, you have oysters, you have liver, you have onions. So a lot of people may be avoiding these. I typically don’t eat onions just in general anyway. I kinda stay away from peppers and onions and things like that so I’m probably lacking on the chromium. I personally don’t eat mini oysters because of the sea–you know, it’s always the balance of the ocean toxicity versus chromium, you know, it’s just–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, exactly.
Evan Brand: It’s–it’s always a toss-up for me. I–I’m so on the fence about the seafood issue, but anyway, so that’s why I use sometimes an Aqueous, a liquid chromium, and I enjoy it and I do notice a difference. So I’m trying to think of what else I use, man. Honestly, the chromium in the–in the cinnamon are only my two direct ways of supporting blood sugar.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, when I see patients with adrenal fatigue, we’ll add a blood sugar support. They’ll take one per meal, because it just gives me that insurance policy that they’re getting those nutrients in each meal. Because like you said, it’s already hard enough to get them to eat these newer foods that are less inflammatory and better and then now we go extra level and now it’s like, well, it’s gotta have chromium in it and vanadium and all these nutrients. It just adds another layer. We forgot magnesium, too. Another layer of compliance. So if we can just take a pill that has those extra nutrients along with that, that’s gonna be a great–a great step in the right direction.
Evan Brand: Yeah and I guess–I guess glutamine would be kind of my other recommendation that almost give–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yup.
Evan Brand: Every person I see just because I recommend it as sort of like a emergency reserve, like if you’re gonna go eat a cookie, how about just take a capsule of glutamine and open that bad boy up and pour it into the mouth instead. And it actually tastes decent. It’s one of the–the decently tasting amino acids compared to some of them.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I agree. The best is inositol.
Evan Brand: I haven’t had that. What’s it taste like?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: It tastes like sugar. It’s actually it’s more of a derived pseudo B vitamin but it actually helps with blood sugar stability. So if you want a little bit of sugar feel, well, go chew on some inositol. It’s a good way to help your blood sugar but also give you a little bit of a taste. Just be careful, it’s like Xylitol where it’ll give the runs if you do too much.
Evan Brand: Really? Okay, now explain this to me if you’re familiar with the myo-inositol. I’ve seen that and I don’t know. Is that like a better bio available form or what?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, there’s like a chiro-inositol and a myo-inositol. There’s some research that it actually is very beneficial with PCOS or polycystic ovarian syndrome, which is a condition where females will grow excessive cysts on their ovaries and again, there’s a massive connection with PCOS and insulin, which insulin then gets connected to blood sugar. So this inositol is really helping with PCOS indirectly by helping with blood sugar. And just go Google like I said, insulin and PCOS, and that’s why the main line therapy is Glucophage or Metformin to treat it.
Evan Brand: Really?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uh-hmm.
Evan Brand: So what are they trying to do there? They’re trying to get that insulin back down to fix that PCOS?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yup, because the insulin is what’s driving the cyst to grow. It’s like the–the insulin is like the–the food for cyst, it’s so to speak. And then the insulin then causes the females estrogen downstream to testosterone and that that’s why you start to see with that whole sequelae of, you know, extra hair along the jawline, thickening of hair, thickening of follicles, things like that. You’ll just see changes in women. It’s like this cruel joke when we have high levels of insulin in the body, women become more like men and men become more like women with, you know, the–the gynocomastia and the breast tissue and all that stuff. So it’s this–this shift in sexuality if you will.
Evan Brand: That’s incredible.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: By our–by our hormones with just hyperinsulinism.
Evan Brand: Wow. So this is probably a topic for a entire episode but–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.
Evan Brand: I had always seen stuff about like how estrogen being a cause for or maybe a cause or a symptom or something that’s correlated with PCOS, or was it kind of those two together? Is it high insulin and high estrogen like estrogen dominant state that’s causing that PCOS or is that just kind of a side effect and the insulin’s really the biggest culprit there?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Well, again, there’s gonna be a combination of the two. A lot of times when we have estrogen dominance, we may not have high levels of estrogen so to speak but we may have high levels of estrogen in relationship to progesterone. So because progesterone can go downstream to cortisol and cortisol connects with us because it’s stabilizing blood sugar. So the more you’re taking your meals and eating a whole bunch of sugar, the more you’re taking your progesterone downstream and it’s gonna convert down to cortisol and if you’re on the second half of your cycle that luteal phase, that’s the phase where you’re more prone for PMS, right? Day 15-27 of your cycle, so if the first day of your period is day 1, day 15-27 is where your luteal phase is and if you’re eating too much sugar right there, you are setting the stage up for some nasty PMS, because that cortisol is draining all of your healthy progesterone.
Evan Brand: Interesting. So someone could be really messing themselves up from kind of a multilevel thing here if they have excess stress in the form of emotional stress for example, but also the nutritional stress where maybe they’re skipping meals and when they are eating meals, they’re having too much carbohydrate, therefore, driving up the insulin likely suffering from blood sugar crashes which is then elevating cortisol which is then you’re saying it’s taking away from the progesterone because the progesterone is not able to do its job because it’s needing to go downstream to create cortisol and, therefore, estrogen just has no–no gatekeeper, no regulator I guess. Is that the way to put it?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, it’s just the ratio is starting to go–gets skewed. And again, there are estrogen issues because we are just flooded with xenoestrogens in our environment, right? With our plastics and you know, you mentioned the whole–the coffee thing that your–your wife does there. That’s got an extra plastic in it. You mentioned all the pesticides are estrogen-based. You know, the receipts that you get at Whole Foods, right? There’s a coding of BPA in there, on the inks, so you gotta fold those up and don’t touch your fingers to it. So lots of different things in our environment are giving us these extra estrogens, so you gotta be careful of that.
Evan Brand: Right. So that progesterone, that’s typically always–you’re not gonna have enough in the modern world a lot of times compared to the amount of estrogen that’s out there. We’re just in an estrogen–estrogen-filled world.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, we just gotta have our detoxification pathways working well, eat organic food, go exercise and sweat. The solution to pollution is dilution according to Robert Rackowski. Again, drinking water is gonna help your body get some of those hormones out. And again, your detox pathways run with amino acids, don’t forget that. We need aminos to run those detox pathways and all of these toxins, they screw up the blood sugar receptors. They make us more insulin resistant.
Evan Brand: And remind people where they get aminos.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Well, aminos, I mean, your best sources are gonna be animal-based proteins because they’re gonna be higher in a sulfur amino acid profile, and if we’re gonna do a powder-based, your next best is gonna be a good quality whey protein that’s grass-fed or a good quality beef protein that’s grass-fed.
Evan Brand: Yup, and you’re also helping with detox there. You can increase your glutathione level, your master antioxidant with some–with some grass-fed whey. So if that’s not in your supplement cabinet, I’d get some in there.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Absolutely. Anything else you wanna add, Evan?
Evan Brand: No, that’s it. This has been a great overview and it’s fun. Fun as always.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, I’m really looking forward to our last podcast together. I mean, we’re just ripping off, you know, thousands by the day, and I just really want the listeners to just get as much out of it, so if they have questions for us, let us know. And if you’re enjoying the show, give us feedback. We love feedback. It’s what gets us out of bed in the morning and motivates us to do these shows.
Evan Brand: Yes, sir.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Evan, thanks a lot, man!
Evan Brand: Thanks, see ya!
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Bye.
Evan Brand: Bye.
Blood Sugar and Hormone Stress
By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
More than one-third of the country has a condition known as metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome has some important features that are seen in nearly all cases, and these are blood-sugar imbalances and insulin resistance.
When blood sugar or insulin becomes elevated, it can create inflammatory cascades that can contribute to obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Metabolic syndrome or blood-sugar imbalances is one of the biggest public health concerns of today. And if left unaddressed, it could bankrupt our economy.
Most conventional treatments to address metabolic syndrome and blood-sugar imbalances do not address the root causes. Essentially, people with the condition can live longer with the symptoms; yet nothing is done to address the root cause of what’s driving the condition in the first place.
Below are some of the typical treatments that are used.
- Blood-pressure medications
- Metformin or Glucophage
- Surgeries to remove gangrenous limbs (this happens in most long-term diabetics if their blood sugar isn’t addressed)
- ADA or food-pyramid diet (this actually makes the problem worse)
Below are some functional-medicine tests that can help detect early signs of blood-sugar imbalances or metabolic syndrome.
- Waist-hip ratio
- Elevate triglyceride to HDL ratio >2
- CRP >1
- Elevated in LDL particle size B vs LDL particle size A (FYI: Statins do not have an effect on the particle size of cholesterol.)
- Low thyroid levels TSH >3.0 or free T3 <3.0 (these markers are designed for early detection of a healthy imbalance)
Did you know that blood-sugar imbalances are one of the biggest stressors on your endocrine system?
If you are suffering from any type of hormonal imbalance, whether it be hypothyroidism, PMS, menopause, or even fatigue and weight gain, your blood sugar needs to be addressed.
Blood-sugar issues are almost guaranteed to be a foundational part of any hormonal problem. Every time your blood sugar ebbs and flows up and down, your adrenals and pancreas have to come to the rescue. When your blood sugar goes up, your pancreas has to produce insulin to help lower your blood sugar. While at the opposite end, your adrenals have to spit out adrenaline and cortisol to bring your blood sugar back up. Oh, and did I mention when cortisol goes out of balance it causes belly fat!
The more your blood-sugar handling system is stressed, the more it predisposes your body to hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue!
The typical pattern tends to be this: Eat a meal with excess refined carbohydrates, and your blood sugar spikes very high. Your body responds by producing a whole bunch of insulin to knock that blood sugar down! The pancreas overshoots, and produces too much insulin. Now, our blood sugar is super low, and we may start to feel anxious or jittery. Also, we may crave lots of sugar and sweets. The next thing we do is eat more carbohydrates and start the cycle all over again. This is the cycle of death that is common with most patients who have hormonal issues. It may not be quite so blatant for most people, but at some level it is happening, and it’s very addicting!
Low blood sugar really makes you stupid!
When blood sugar drops (hypoglycemia), your body also increases production of an excitotoxin called glutamate. The combination of low blood sugar and high levels of glutamate decrease activation of the frontal cortex. The frontal cortex is the part of our brain that allows us to have higher levels of thinking and brain function; it differentiates us from almost all other mammals. When we lose activation to our frontal cortex, it’s common for us to make stupid decisions, act irrational, and eat more unhealthy food. When we eat poorly, we literally lose our brain, and it’s so easy for this vicious cycle to perpetuate itself again and again and again (1).
The same type of excitotoxin response can happen when you consume aspartame, food dyes, and MSG. Avoiding these food additives can have a tremendous effect on lowering your glutamate levels and thus not allow you to use your frontal cortex as efficiently. If it’s your goal to perform at the highest level, you want to make sure you are using your head!
Excitotoxins also excite your brain neurons to death, another great reason why you want to avoid them.
If you’re having hormonal issues, one of the best things you can do is stabilize your blood sugar. Eating high-quality protein and fat first thing in the morning, within the first 30 to 60 minutes of waking, is very helpful. The more your blood sugar is stable, the more your endocrine glands can focus on helping you have energy and healthy sex-hormone balance.
If you’re having problems with your blood sugar, click here for more help!
1. The Effect of Acute Hypoglycemia on Brain Function and Activation A Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study
Blood Sugar and Your Hormones
By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
Americans now consume an average of 150 pounds of sugar a year, which is 20 times as much as was the norm in 1700 when Americans were consuming only 7½ pounds per year! This crazy sugar consumption, about ½ a pound a day, has lead our country to obesity, disease, and all sorts of health issues that are now seen as normal. Today we are going to examine the causes and effects of sugar cravings, and what we can do to properly balance our hormones.
Causes of Sugar Cravings
Sugar cravings can be caused by blood sugar imbalances, which occur due to poor diet (including inflammation-inducing high doses of sugar) or going too long between meals. Blood sugar imbalance leads to more inflammation, hormone imbalance, and sugar cravings. The sugar cravings continue the negative cycle of eating sugar, crashing, and craving more, which only causes hormone imbalances to worsen over time.
The HPA axis, the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and the adrenal glands, can be disrupted by a poor diet, stress, and emotional toil: all of which are symptoms of a sugar overdose. The disturbance to the HPA axis can lead to adrenal fatigue, which can lead to blood sugar imbalance and more cravings for something sweet.
Consuming sugar releases dopamine, a feel-good “rewards system” neurotransmitter which is responsible for motivation and emotions. This release of dopamine can be addictive, making it very difficult to cut out sugar, which effectively becomes an addition.
Sugar and Your Hormones
We know consuming too much sugar contributes to blood sugar imbalances, adrenal fatigue, and inflammation. But is goes deeper than that: overconsumption of sugar can throw our hormones out of whack, leading to serious health conditions. Weight gain or weight loss that’s unexplained by your diet and exercise, depression, anxiety, changes in appetite, low libido, irregular periods, fatigue, insomnia, digestive issues, hair thinning or hair loss are all signs of hormone imbalance.
Common hormonal imbalances include:
Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism: Hypothyroidism causes the metabolism to slow, meaning weight gain is a common issue. Hyperthyroidism is the opposite, causing the body to speed up and weight to be lost quickly. Both thyroid disorders can come with anxiety, sleep issues, and other irregularities.
Low testosterone comes with weight gain, fatigue, mood swings, erectile dysfunction, and muscle loss.
Low estrogen can lower your sex drive, cause menstrual and reproductive problems, and cause mood swings.
Estrogen dominance can change your weight, appetite, and sleep patterns. Easier to become overwhelmed by stress, and the metabolism slows.
Diabetes comes with weight gain, nerve damage, fatigue, skin problems, and vision loss.
Adrenal fatigue plagues many people in our over-stressed society. Fatigue, anxiety, depression, insomnia, brain fog, and muscle aches and pains are common.
PCOS, or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, in which elevated androgen (male hormone) levels cause many cysts to grow in the ovaries of women of reproductive age. Infertility, weight gain, acne, and abnormal hair growth are symptoms of this condition.
Click here to work with a functional medicine doctor to test your hormone levels!
How to Balance Your Hormones
Adaptogen herbs are a class of healing plants that are very powerful in protecting against stress. They can support the thyroid, reduce anxiety and depression, support the adrenals, and stabilize blood sugar. Ashwagandha is your go-to for balancing hormones. It can help with hyper- and hypo- thyroidism, as well as help with adrenal function. We recommend Ashwagandha Supreme, or a more complex supplement, like the ashwagandha-containing Adrenal Revive. Holy Basil, or tulsi, also regulates hormones and can help the body deal with emotional stress, as well as give protection against environmental and ingested toxins.
Vitamin D is more of a hormone than a vitamin. Vitamin D keeps inflammation low, and is a very important component of a healthy body; read more about vitamin D here. A high-quality vitamin D supplement, like Emulsi D Supreme, is very beneficial in protecting against hormonal imbalances as well as autoimmune diseases.
Healthy gut function is crucial in virtually all aspects of overall health. Leaky gut, inflammation of the gut lining allowing undigested food particles and toxins into the bloodstream, cause inflammations in other areas of the body, including glands such as the thyroid, which are responsible for regulating our hormones. A high quality probiotic, or probiotics from foods such as sauerkraut and kombucha, can repopulate the gut with good probiotics. Bone broth is also good for healing the gut, as it is soothing to the intestines and contains collagen and other healing compounds.
How to Beat Sugar Cravings
As we know, sugar feeds inflammation and messes with our hormones. Despite knowing that sugar is not good for us, strong cravings make it hard to resist! In the heat of the moment, apple cider vinegar, lemon, or lime water can help curb a sugar craving.
Sugar cravings can also be due to dehydration or a mineral deficiency. Using healthy pink himalayan salt on meals and maintaining proper hydration will allow your body to properly balance your hormones and improve blood sugar.
In the long-term, switching from a diet high in processed foods and carbs to a cyclical keto diet, or a lower carb diet rich in complex carbs and healthy fats, can help you feel satiated and balance your blood sugar.
Click here for a consultation with a functional medicine doctor for a personalized health plan!
In this episode, topics include:
00:51 Blood sugar, imbalance and issues
15:12 Importance of stabilizing blood sugar
23:04 What are some healthy snacks
27:12 Supplements for blood sugar stability
35:43 Where do we get aminos