January 26, 2012

Does "No Symptoms" Mean No Problems?

I've been thinking a lot about my health lately, I guess because I've been feeling so great. I've wondered to what extent my metabolism has actually healed and to what extent my ancestral eating is masking symptoms I might otherwise be having.

And that's where my question to you comes from--are you assuming that no symptoms means no problems? If you're making annual trips to a doctor for a thorough check-up I'd support you in saying that's enough and I'd also support you in taking your own measurements every few months just because you're interested. But my question remains.

I'm usually careful to eat fruit in modest amounts and eat other foods either immediately afterward or with the fruit. I've wondered, though, how my blood pressure and glucose would respond if I splurged by eating a lot of fruit by itself. I've also wondered how I'm handling the yogurt I've started eating most mornings. 

If you aren't having check-ups with a physician, which I suspect is more common these days because of financial pressures and high medical/insurance costs, are you taking your own blood pressure and glucose measurements? Or, are you assuming that no symptoms means no problems?

The good news for you is that I'm not going to bore you with a blow-by-blow description of the lengthy experiment I ran this week testing my blood pressure and glucose. I will share a few observations though.  

My typical morning coffee--2 mugs over 2 hours with heavy cream and honey--barely registers on the blood glucose meter.  I've read that some people have high insulin responses to dairy, but clearly I don't. Also, the home-made yogurt I frequently have for breakfast plus the quantity of fruit I typically add causes only a moderate blood glucose reaction well within the normal range.  

During my experiment, I ate fruit as stand-alone meals three times, 2 large meals and one smaller meal of the exact types/quantities of fruit I had added to my yogurt the morning before.

My fasting blood pressure and glucose rates are both very normal on the typical ancestral meals I've been eating. After the large fruit-only meals, my blood glucose had returned to about the fasting rate 2 hours later BUT the readings spiked pretty high at the 30-90 minute marks. The smaller meal of fruit stayed within the normal range throughout but my blood glucose went higher than when I ate the same amount of fruit with yogurt or any of my typical fruit-salad-meat meals.

The bottom line for me is that I was paying very close attention so I noticed some very slight symptoms after eating the large meals of fruit, including minor mood alteration (less calm). If I hadn't been paying attention I don't think I would've noticed anything although I would've been less serene than usual for a few days. I've been known to eat stand-alone meals of sweet fruit from time to time but I probably won't do that any more.

What about you? Are you relying on "no symptoms" or do you know how your meals affect you? Do you eat enough fruit or sweeteners that it matters?


  1. Just found your blog, Nance! (Dragonfly from PaleoHacks, here)

    I go by my symptoms. If I go over about 25 gm of carbs at a meal, I notice I feel "antsy".

    Eating some cheese calms me down very quickly!

    1. I think one of the best things we're doing in our lifestyle is really listening to our bodies and trying to react sensibly to what they tell us. For one thing, it gives us much more room to learn and adapt as we go.

  2. Ive been a type 2 diabetic since 2004 controlled with diet and exercise, I have followed the dash diet since then, I also had hypertension and high cholesterol. Since following the diet and exercising I lost 150 lbs in 1 1/2 years and kept it off. This is a high carb diet and not paleo, I consume whole grains along with fruits and vegetables lean meat & fish and fat free dairy. Being a diabetic for 8 years now, I know how meals affect me and know what symptoms to look out for. I don't eat anything made from white flour, white rice or anything that has large amounts of sugar, I know they will spike my blood sugar. Anything else whether it is fruit eaten alone or as part of a meal does not cause any spikes, I consider spikes for me as 120 or above after 2hrs of starting a meal. I usually eat between 300 to 400 grams of carbs a day, I have never counted carbs and I don't count on a daly basis. Occasionally I go to a website where I enter what I've eaten for the day to give me a general idea of my calorie intake. The one time in the last 8 years I tried to eat something made from white flour (a piece of cake) I felt very fatigued after a couple of hours when I checked my blood sugar level it was 168, usually 2 hrs after a meal my levels are between 85 and 105. By the way, I found your blog from a link on My Carb Sane-Asylum. Even though I don't follow paleo, I am interested in other views on diet and nutrition.

    1. Howdy! I really wish I could eat a pile of fruit with no issue. My fasting and 2-hr post-prandial are fine, but if I eat a meal of fruit-only I spike to 160 or higher at 45 minutes. I'm back to 100 or so at 2 hours but I read that any time about 140 could be causing damage. The odd thing is that if I eat yogurt or other food with the same amount of fruit I don't reach 120 at any point. Hmm. Anyhow, glad you stopped by--always glad to make new friends.