After meals, blood sugars rise, causing a spike. But according to scientists there is a trick to helping the body metabolize them
The mechanism is known as glycemic peak: Each time we eat carbohydrates, the concentration of glucose (blood sugar) in the blood increases and the pancreas releases insulin to reduce it. A proven defense system that protects the body from damage that could lead to an excess of sugar, but which can jam in those suffering from diseases such as insulin resistance and diabetes. And not only that, since even healthy people can have diabetes-like spikes in glucose after eating. But here’s the good news: according to a study published in Sports Medicinethere is an easy trick to help our body manage post-prandial blood sugar.
How to improve sugar metabolism after eating
A group of British and Irish researchers found that standing up for a few minutes or a short walk improves blood sugar metabolism after meals, as opposed to sitting at the table. And walking has a “significantly greater” effect than standing. Better still after dinner, when we tend to be less active. But how long does a post-prandial walk have to last to facilitate the metabolism of sugars?
Improving the metabolism of sugars after meals: the study
The researchers looked at 7 previous works, which measured how interrupting prolonged sitting, such as at the table, with pauses in standing and light walking affected cardio-metabolic health. After evaluating the results, they found that both standing and walking improve blood sugar metabolism, although walk is more effective because muscle contractions and the consequent (slight) increase in heart rate seem to limit the excessive increase in postprandial blood glucose.
“Standing up for short periods compared to sitting for a long time at the table significantly reduces postprandial blood glucose, but does not show significant effects on insulin,” the researchers write. “Light intensity walking instead, it is linked to a greater reduction in glucose and insulin than sitting or simply getting up from the table. Therefore, we recommend a not particularly demanding walk for a significant reduction in postprandial blood sugar and insulin compared to sitting at the table for a long time ”. Researchers believe that getting into the habit of getting up from the table (or desk) to stretch your legs could make a public health difference as well. “In the future it would be good to implement short breaks in environments such as the workplace, studying the long-term implications for health.”
The good news is that the time it takes to activate this virtuous mechanism doesn’t have to be long at all according to the authors of the study: it ranges from a standing / walking break to 2 minutes after 20 minutes sitting at the table with 5 minute breaks every 30 minutes. Just enough time to stretch your legs and give your body the help it needs to dispose of the sugars.
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