Interview with Steven Langley
Breakfast, Stress and Blood Glucose Balance
When someone, as prominent and influential in the Naturopathic world as Stephen Langley, agrees to an interview, one does not hang around! I feel extremely grateful that he agreed to spend some time with me talking about nutrition.
What you see below are a few highlights from our conversation:
Why would you say breakfast is the most important meal of the day?
The reason is that because we are coming from a position of very low blood sugar and it is very important that if we go too long with low blood sugar into the morning, by the time we start to move and get around our body is going to demand Glucose, the brain will want glucose, and we are most likely to switch to something for a quick fix. This is why it is important to have a proper breakfast so that we don’t go into that slump, if you like, mid-morning, which is very very common.
We are going be more productive if we come out of our fast having eaten something. That’s what we do: we are breaking the fast.
Is eating a healthy breakfast enough to prevent blood glucose levels imbalances and cravings throughout the entire day?
The breakfast is just the start. We should be eating in a similar way all through the day, when we’re having Complex Carbohydrates, with good Fats and Protein sources, to mitigate any spikes in Glucose, which of course will cause Insulin spikes. So we want to keep our Blood Sugar fairly regular, and we want to keep it tight so that after 2 hours of eating we sit back to where we were. We are not elevated in term of our Glucose – it is like our blood pressure; we want to keep it tight. So the food has to be continually like that.
Some people cannot handle food in the morning, what would you suggest to help them starting the day on an empty stomach?
I would say have a piece of fruit: an apple, or something like that.
I think most people can eat that. I know there are many people who don’t feel like eating in the morning for various reasons, but I am sure if they tried, they can at least have a piece of fruit. This will help to get the juices moving and encourage them to perhaps change a little bit to increase slightly over time. A piece of fruit most people can eat that.
Would this indicate underlying issues?
It may just be that people are different in the way their bodies are designed, I suppose. It doesn’t necessarily mean any pathological changes or underlying conditions. But, I think, it could if it wasn’t addressed; because I think that it usually leads into drops and poor eating throughout the rest of the day. So it is potentially a problem down the line.
What would be your recommendations, as an influential Naturopath, for a healthy breakfast?
It could be a number of things. I think you could make muesli overnight, like Bircher muesli, where you could get gluten-free Quinoa flakes, Brown Rice flakes, Millet Flakes… or Buckwheat flakes. You mix that with a bit of chopped almonds, may be some chopped walnuts. You add to that some seeds, your Chia Seeds, may be some Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, etc. Then you would add some water – ideally distilled or reverse osmosis water. It doesn’t have to be, but any sort of water is fine – and then put that in the fridge overnight. Let it to soak, so it draws in all the water, and in the morning you can add to that some Goat’s milk if you want, or Yogurt. Sometimes, you can make that at night where you put Kefir, Raw Goat’s Milk Kefir, or Raw Goat’s Milk, like a Bircher Muesli. You let it sit overnight. Alternatively, you could put Coconut Milk, or something like that.
You could get away with a few berries, like Blueberries. Ideally, we are trying to keep the fruits away from the Carbohydrates, but berries wouldn’t be too bad. You’ve got something that is not going to spike your Insulin then. You’ve got the Carbohydrates that are mitigated with the nuts and the seeds, the good fats, and the proteins, and, ideally, if you have some Kefir, you have quite a lot of good proteins in there. That is really something that is going to sustain you well into the day.
Poached eggs are also a great option.
When people are under a lot of stress, they might not be able to sleep well and wake up refreshed. Instinctively they will opt for stimulants such as caffeine and sugar, because without it they would not be able to operate. What would you suggest to break the Stress, Cortisol and High Blood Glucose imbalance, the reliance on stimulants, and the lack of sleep cycle?
I think it is all related, isn’t it? And I think again coming back to that diet, it has to be fundamentally not spiking the Insulin. Every time the Insulin spikes that is a stress. That is causing Cortisol to being released. It is feeding off itself.
So fundamental things are the breakfast needs to be right in term of its Blood Sugar regulation: you get the Blood Sugar regulation; that should feed into the sleeping pattern. A lot of sleeping patterns are disrupted because the Blood Sugar is over the place. It is all over the place because it is all over the place through the daytime, with people eating the wrong foods, spiking the Insulin, up and down, and that is stress on our body. It comes back to keeping a good source of Protein, Fats and complex Carbohydrates.
Very simplistically, how would you describe the effect of the stress on the body, and how this plays on the food we eat and generating even more stress?
The food will either raise Insulin to very high levels or it won’t, and we should be looking at food, which doesn’t spike Insulin, which is going to reduce stress on the body. Sugar – anything that has a quick Insulin response, like alcohol for example, or anything like that – is going to cause fluctuations over the day. It comes back to Insulin modulation – to modulate the Insulin spikes. So it starts with the breakfast, and then it should continue with the lunch, and it should continue until the dinnertime. That meal can be levelled off so the dinner is not as big as the lunch, depending on the person – depends on the activity. And then, the person should be able to go to sleep at a proper time.
You can’t probably do the exercise through the day if you don’t have the proper nutrients – you don’t have the energy from that. You are not going to have the energy to properly finish your workout if you’re living on coffee and doughnuts. It is all about getting that Blood Sugar level. With proper Blood sugar levels you are going to exercise better. If you exercise better you are going to sleep better.
You can do it outside in the sun. You are going to get more Serotonin. You are going to produce more Melatonin at night. Melatonin is an antioxidant; it is going to help you sleep better, plus you are going to be tired from the exercise. I think a lot of people who eat poorly don’t exercise and the reason is because they do not have the energy to properly do that.
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