After years of studying nutrition studies, I was fortunate to be part of one.
Then I reported on a Study 2019 that showed how everyone responds a little differently to common foods, I learned that the same researchers have implemented another study, aimed at observing how different bodies of people process sugars and fats in different ways. I volunteered for this.
The study authors wanted to find out if they might be able to use this information to better adapt individual dietary recommendations to reduce a person’s chances of developing chronic diseases, such as
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The study was led by Tim Spector, an epidemiologist at King’s College London, who recently started his own nutritional business.
The company, named Zoe, wrote me in Preach 2 in the fall of 2019, shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic began.
During the study, I wore a continuous glucose monitor on my arm.
The monitor was on my arm for the entire 10-day study.
I was allowed to shower with myself, or swim for up to 30 minutes, but I was advised not to participate in contact sports, and to be careful when putting on a backpack.
The monitor measured blood sugar levels continuously throughout the day.
The shaded blue area of this graph is where you want your blood sugar reading to be.
A blood sugar reading below the 70mg / dL signs low blood sugar, which can make you faint, weak, trembling and hungry.
“I wish every citizen of the world could wear one of those,” said Dr. Mark Cucuzella, a professor at West Virginia University School of Medicine and an advocate of healthy eating (who was not involved in this study).
“Just to see what happens.”
I kept a record of everything I ate using Zoe’s app, which made homemade dishes a pretty tiring affair.
Every ingredient in my omelette had to be counted.
At home, I had to weigh everything that went in my mouth with this scale, provided by the study.
I also had to photograph my meals next to a color chart, so the researchers could get a more accurate caliber of the size and hue of what I was eating.
This attention to detail made me not want to cook, and I felt a little guilty when I hid or approximated foods I ate instead.
The card was designed to give Zoe’s researchers a better idea of how big my portions were, and the color scheme of what I ate.
The color of food is not necessarily an indication of nutritional value, but the phytochemicals that give fruits and vegetables their bright colors, smells and tastes are great for reducing inflammation in the body, which can lead to chronic diseases if left unchecked.
Mercifully, when I ate pre-packaged foods, I was able to access them in Zoe’s app without weighing or measuring.
Pret a Manger was my friend to go to for lunch during this study, so I could just take a look at the list of ingredients and nutritional facts of what I ate in the app.
Zoe also sent me some pre-packaged breakfast, to better monitor how my body responds to fatty versus sugary mornings.
“I know Americans love muffins for breakfast” Spector told me before.
Three types of muffins were on his menu: a high-fat, low-sugar muffin; a standard muffin with an average amount of fat and carbohydrates; and a third low-fat muffin that had more sugar in it. The dry, low-fat muffin was by far the least appetizing, but none of it was good.
I had to remind myself that it wasn’t a taste test. The researchers wanted to know: Will my insulin levels rise after the muffins, or does glucose monitoring reflect a fairly stable response? Which of the muffins would suit me best?
I was ordered to finish eating in 15 minutes.
I fasted for three hours after each breakfast test, and was ordered to keep physical activity to a minimum during that time.
I watched my blood sugar levels sink in the hours after breakfast.
“A monitor can be a really good teaching tool for patients,” Cucuzella said. “I like working in the clinic.”
When I was allowed to eat back to my regular diet, I stopped to see my blood sugar crash in the morning, and I noticed only a small peak in my blood sugar levels every night around dinner. .
“The continuous monitoring gives you awareness,” Cucuzella said.
He used one for himself and noticed that the blood sugar was falling out after eating fruits such as melon.
“Get rid of processed foods and eat natural foods – and if you’re better at glucose tolerance, you can get more fruit,” he said.
Because of the pandemic, it took me more than a year to get the results of my study. Zoe finally said that I have “poor blood sugar control,” which is pretty normal for my age.
After about three decades of consuming a mature American diet with sugary sweet foods and drinks, it’s no big surprise. But it was a good memory to take better care of myself, and my diet. I will skip the dessert, thank you.
I learned that my body is much better at shifting fat than sugar, which was a nice surprise.
“Any kind of program like this that gives you some understanding … will make you make better life choices, with real nutrition,” Cucuzella said.
For example, a bowl of fatty, fibrous oatmeal is probably a better breakfast choice for me than a piece of fruit.
In the end, Team Zoe’s ideas weren’t revolutionary, but it was great to have the opportunity to see my body respond to sugar and fat in real time.
The basic truths that have underlined decades of scientific research on nutrition have been held true in my study: healthy foods like plants and animal products are good for you, while sugary ones processed foods are not.
It hasn’t been a revelation, but it’s certainly consistent with the body of research that’s out there.
The study suggested I stay away from processed foods like white bread, sausages and chocolate bars.
Processed foods and meats are linked to all kinds of poor health outcomes, including early death, so advice is not controversial among nutrition experts.
“There are a lot of fantastic tools for saying what’s intrinsically obvious: Don’t eat foods that your grandmother doesn’t recognize as food,” Cucuzella said.