Salad before carbohydrates? Here’s the science of “food sequence” and your health

Biochemist and author glucose revolution Jessie Inchauspé says tweaking your diet can change your life.

Among her recommendations in the mainstream media and on Instagram, the founder of the Glucose Goddess Movement says eating your food in a certain order is key.

By eating the salads first, before the proteins, and ending the meal with starchy carbs, you say your blood glucose spikes will flatten, which is better for you.

Scientifically speaking, does this make sense? It turns out, yes, in part.

What is high glucose?

A sudden spike in glucose in the bloodstream occurs about 30-60 minutes after eating carbohydrates. Many things determine how high and how long a peak lasts. This includes what you ate with or before the carbs, the amount of fiber in the carbs, and your body’s ability to make and use the hormone insulin.

For people with certain medical conditions, any tactic to flatten peak glucose is very important. These conditions include:

  • diabetic

  • Reactive hypoglycemia (a certain type of frequent sugar crash)

  • Postprandial hypotension (postprandial hypotension) or

  • If you have had bariatric surgery.

That’s because high and prolonged glucose elevations have lasting and harmful effects on many hormones and proteins, including those that cause inflammation. Inflammation is linked to a range of conditions including diabetes and heart disease.

Different foods, different nails

Does eating different types of foods before carbohydrates affect glucose rise? Turns out, yes. This isn’t new evidence either.

Scientists have long known that high-fiber foods, such as salads, slow gastric emptying (the rate at which food leaves the stomach). So high-fiber foods slow down the delivery of glucose and other nutrients to the small intestine for absorption into the blood.

Also, proteins and fats slow down gastric emptying. The protein has the added advantage of stimulating a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (or GLP1).

When the protein in your food hits cells in your intestines, this hormone is released, slowing stomach emptying even further. The hormone also affects the pancreas as it helps secrete the hormone insulin, which removes glucose from the blood.

In fact, drugs that mimic the way GLP1 works (known as GLP1 receptor agonists) are a new and very effective class of drugs for people with type 2 diabetes. They make a real difference to improving blood sugar control.

How about eating in sequence?

Most of the scientific research on whether eating in a particular order makes a difference for high glucose involves giving fiber, fat, or protein a “preload” before a meal. The preload is usually liquid and given about 30 minutes before the carbs.

In one study, drinking a whey protein shake 30 minutes before (not with) a meal of mashed potatoes was better at slowing stomach emptying. Either option was better at reducing a glucose spike than drinking water before a meal.

While this evidence shows that eating protein before carbohydrates helps reduce glucose spikes, the evidence for eating other food groups separately and in sequence during the average meal is not very strong.

Inchauspé says fiber, fats, and protein don’t mix in the stomach—they do. But nutrients don’t leave the stomach until they are reduced to a precise molecular size.

Meat takes longer than puree to turn into fine particles. Given the additional fact that liquids empty out faster than solids, and people tend to complete their entire dinner in about 15 minutes, is there any real evidence that eating a meal within a certain sequence would be more beneficial than eating foods, as you like, all mixed in on Board?

Yes, but it is not very strong.

One small study tested five different meal sequences in 16 people without diabetes. Participants had to eat their meal within 15 minutes.

There was no overall difference in glucose elevation between the groups that ate their vegetables before meat and rice versus the other sequences.

What is a receipt letter?

Monitoring these glucose spikes is especially important if you have diabetes or a host of other medical conditions. If so, your attending physician or dietitian will advise you on how to adjust your meals or food intake to avoid a glucose spike. Part of that tip might be ordering food.

For the rest of us, don’t tie yourself up in a contract trying to eat your meal in a certain order. But consider removing sugary drinks and adding fiber, protein or fat to your carbs to slow stomach emptying and flatten glucose.

Leonie Heilbronn, Professor and Group Chair, Obesity and Metabolism, University of Adelaide.

This article has been republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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