My journey through the Zoe programme

Before Covid and lockdowns, I put my name down to participate in the Zoe Programme. A study carried out by King’s College and headed by Prof Tim Spector (the man who wrote The Diet Myth etc) and who is an expert in the gut microbiome. I’m fascinated by how the microbiome affects our physical and mental health. This programme gives you the opportunity to test three important markers: the diversity of your gut microbiome, your blood sugar metabolism and blood fats clearance. Using these personalised insights, you are then advised what foods improve all those markers.

From my Zoe results I learnt that I have:

  • a very diverse and healthy microbiome
  • that I am one of the 31% of the population which has a ‘healthy’ pathogen called Blastocystis which is correlated with less visceral fat and better metabolism.
  • I have two not-so-healthy bugs which hinder my sugar and fat clearance. I then received personalised advice about how to address this via diet

Whilst wearing a blood glucose monitor and doing various challenges, I discovered how I can control my blood sugar responses. See challenges below:

Morning 1 – eat a bowl of porridge made with water. Result: my blood sugar monitor showed that blood sugar spiked considerably

Morning 2 – eat same amount of porridge and go for a 30 minute walk. Result: no blood sugar spike

Morning 3 – eat same amount of porridge and have 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a little water beforehand. Result: no blood sugar spike

Morning 4 – eat the same amount of porridge but eat 4 tablespoons of full fat yoghurt. Result: no blood sugar spike

Morning 5 – eat a little salad or any veg before porridge. Result: no blood sugar spike

Conclusions: the order in which you eat your food – see Morning 4 and 5 – makes a difference to your blood sugar. Also, if you eat food in this order: veg first, protein/fat second and carb last, you will not spike your blood sugar. Reason: by eating the fibre/protein/fat first (or the vinegar it slows down the emptying of the small intestine and so by the time you eat the carbohydrate, the glucose is released in the blood more slowly.

I’ve been doing this now for two weeks and I have noticed a marked difference in my alertness, energy levels and sleep. Must admit to not always liking eating foods in this order because I’m used to eating things mixed together but it’s worth it.

Hope it helps you think about the order in which you eat your food. Try it and see.

You may also like the Zoe Nutrition and Health Podcast

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