Is Limiting Sugar the Missing Link to Healthy Aging and Longevity LongevIQ Podcast with Dr. Dalal Akoury Anti-aging MD 1.0

Is Limiting Sugar the Missing Link to Healthy Aging and Longevity?

Bringing awareness to sugar’s effect on aging, longevity, and health – Shocking facts everyone should know

In this episode

In this episode, we’ll talk about sugars. Some people say they can’t live without them. Others do their best to avoid them, but is there any truth to either of these? Which approach is the best for healthy aging and longevity?

Our guest in this episode is Dr. Dalal Akoury, MD, an anti-aging medicine expert specializing in health optimization by combining modern, traditional and alternative approaches. As we’ll discuss, sugar plays a key role in how we age, and for many people, blood sugar control is the missing link in their journey to better health.

In our talk, we’ll bring awareness to certain aspects of sugar that not many people know about. Yet, these can make a big difference in our health, longevity, and actually our entire life.

Also in this episode:

  • Dr. Patti Shelton, MD, LongevIQ medical communications officer
  • Amir Ginsberg, LongevIQ founder.

Main Topics

  • (0:00:00) Podcast and episode intro, medical disclaimer
  • (00:02:03) Why do so many people struggle with sugars
  • (00:06:25) What happens to your body after you eat sugar
  • (00:08:01) How does sugar affect the mitochondria
  • (00:09:55) Sugars vs. essential fats for mitochondrial health
  • (00:12:17) Sugars, Hemoglobin A1C, glycation, and inflammation
  • (00:14:19) Can stress raise blood sugar?
  • (00:15:46) How do I know if I’m becoming insulin-resistant?
  • (00:18:34) Preventing metabolic syndrome
  • (00:21:46) Effect of sweeteners on insulin resistance
  • (00:23:17) The importance of eating foods in their natural state
  • (00:25:15) Keto diet, eating according to your genes and the season
  • (00:28:25) Intermittent fasting: common mistakes & important considerations
  • (00:35:55) Coffee, insulin resistance and metabolic health
  • (00:40:14) Supplements for insulin resistance and metabolic health
  • (0:43:01) Dr. Akoury’s smoothie recipe
  • (00:44:59) Lifestyle considerations for metabolic health
  • (00:46:42) Skinny fat and insulin resistance

Episode summary

Sugar’s effect on aging, longevity and health

  1. Sugar in our culture. We use sweets as a reward. Every time we celebrate, we bring sweets. Ironically, sugar consumption accelerates aging and is a known risk factor for many diseases.
  2. Metabolic syndrome is on the rise. Diabetes and metabolic syndrome used to be a disease of aging seen mainly in elderly people. Now we have metabolic syndrome in teenagers and even preteens.
  3. Sugar disrupts mitochondrial function. Limiting sugar and getting more healthy fats, on the other hand, can help promote mitochondrial health.
  4. Sugar is not an essential nutrient. The body can make glucose from other nutrients.
  5. Hemoglobin A1c test. Helps diagnose diabetes and prediabetes and give a good indication of glycation, a key aging mechanism linked to many age-related degenerative diseases.
  6. Stress can affect blood sugar. With modern life’s many stressors, becoming aware of stress as a possible risk factor for metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance is essential. Managing stress with meditation and getting enough high-quality sleep may help with blood sugar control as well.
  7. Sweeteners can increase insulin resistance. Even natural sweeteners like stevia can still increase insulin production and may negatively affect some people with insulin resistance.
  8. Best eating plans for metabolic health. A good starting point for many people may be a modified keto paleo eating pattern based on whole-natural foods, along with intermittent fasting. With that said, it is clear that one diet doesn’t fit all. Our environment, genes, time of year, and many other factors can play a key role.
  9. Exercise may promote metabolic health. Especially aerobic and anaerobic exercises, walking, swimming, and yoga.


This podcast episode was edited to improve readability.

Podcast and episode intro, medical disclaimer

Dr. Patti (00:00:00): This is Dr. Patti Shelton, and you are listening to the LongevIQ podcast. We discuss anti-aging and longevity science and how to benefit from it so we can all live long, healthy, happy lives.

Just before we get started, a quick medical disclaimer, this podcast is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or to provide or replace medical advice. Please use this information to educate yourself as much as possible and share this information with a qualified health practitioner that you trust.

In this episode, we’ll talk about sugars. Some people say they can’t live without them. Others do their best to avoid them, but is there any truth to either of these? Which approach is the best for healthy aging and longevity?

Our guest in this episode is Dr. Dalal Akoury, MD, an anti-aging medicine expert specializing in health optimization by combining modern, traditional and alternative approaches. As we’ll discuss, sugar plays a key role in how we age, and for many people, blood sugar control is the missing link in their journey to better health.

In our talk, we’ll bring awareness to certain aspects of sugar that not many people know about. Yet, these can make a big difference in our health, longevity, and actually our entire life. Also joining us today, as always, is Amir Ginsberg, the founder of LongevIQ.
Welcome, Dr. Akoury. Thanks for joining us today.

[00:01:31] Dr. Akoury: Patti and Amir. I’m so excited to be with you, and I am very blessed and honored to be a part of your community and raise awareness. That’s why my clinic name is AWAREmed.

[00:01:47] Dr. Patti: Beautiful. Oh, such a good message. Yeah. Today we would like to talk about blood sugar control issues, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome. So just share your general view of the importance of controlling blood sugar for health and aging.

Why do so many people struggle with sugars

[00:02:02] Dr. Akoury: Most of us, when we are born, they introduce us immediately to sugar. So as soon as the baby is born, the first thing they give him in the nursery is what we call D5W, which is sugar, glucose, and water. And there’s nothing more addictive on the planet than white sugar.
White, anything white. So the first really cocaine that we give a baby starts with that D5W that they get in the nursery. And most of us really have that sweet tooth because of that. So we all think sweet is good, and every time we reward somebody, we reward them with sweet. But is that not ironic to see that everything that ages is sweet?

Like a ripe banana is aged banana. It’s an old banana, and that’s the sweetest banana. So really, sugar is nothing but decay. We keep talking about sugar as if it’s a sweetener and it’s something good. And we’ll reward people with decay. We’ll reward them with death. We’ll reward them with sickness.

And we need to really ask ourselves why it is that people, initially years ago, with type 2 diabetes were mostly elderly people. That is very close to what we know about a ripe banana, a ripe grape, or ripe anything. So once you are ripe enough, you start getting all the bacteria, and all the fermentation happens from the decay.

We always misunderstood that sweetening is not a reward. That’s actually aging. That reward system we’re using is really the worst thing we could do for people.

Diabetes or metabolic syndrome used to be a disease of aging, the disease that happens as you get older. The saddest thing right now is we have metabolic syndrome in teenagers, actually preteens. They already have type two diabetes, a disease that only happens when you age because sugar is higher when you age. You become more rotten as you age.

So what happens when we trigger a sugar response in the body? We trigger insulin production. So when we have so much sugar in the body, it causes major damage. So that little sugar knocks on the pancreas and says, Hey, I need to do something. All the cells are talking to the pancreas and saying, do something for that. What would the pancreas do? The pancreas starts pumping insulin. Now, what does insulin do? Insulin increases lipogenesis. So what does insulin do? Makes you more fat. So really, insulin is the root cause of a lot of diseases. From cancer to obesity, to chronic fatigue to inflammation.
So the more sugar you increase in the body, the more insulin goes up. The higher the risk for cancer. The higher the risk for obesity. So that’s what we’re doing. We are making ourselves rot prematurely. How did you like that?

Dr. Patti: That is a very powerful message and a way of thinking about this that a lot of people have probably not really had before. Happy birthday. Here’s some death.

Dr. Akoury: I know. I love that. Happy birthday. Oh, you’ve done a great job. Let me kill you.

What happens to your body after you eat sugar

[00:06:18] Dr. Patti: Talk about what sugar does in the body. You mentioned sugar causes all kinds of damage. So can you be a little more specific? What happens in the body when sugar goes up? What’s it actually doing in there?

[00:06:29] Dr. Akoury: The body likes something called homeostasis. The body wants everything normal. You want a healthy blood sugar level. That means you need to be in the 80 range (fasting blood sugar test), and your blood sugar goes up postprandial as a response to eating.

So everything is just perfect. And what we are tempering with is perfection. So when your body is toxic with sugar, look at what’s going to happen. It attracts candida. It attracts yeast. All diabetics. All the sweet people. What do they have? Candida. Yeast infection.
If you wanna ferment anything, what do you add to it? Sugar and yeast. So when you do sugar, you help things ferment. So what happens when things ferment? What is fermentation? You are feeding bacteria, but you don’t feed good bacteria. You may be feeding bad bacteria. So you’re promoting yeast, which is a fungus.
You’re promoting bacteria. That changes homeostasis, and it changes the microenvironment in the body. So, why is sugar important at times? Once you have an adequate amount of sugar, it gets through the cell membrane using insulin. That really helps to open the cell membrane for sugar to go in.

How does sugar affect the mitochondria

[00:08:01] Dr. Akoury: So the sugar goes into the membrane of the mitochondria, and it helps you create energy. It creates what we call ATP. In order for you to really have a higher production of ATP, you need to be able to go through what we call a Krebs cycle. It’s like the energy-producing thing within the mitochondria. Guess what? Sugar creates a small amount of ATP, and that means laziness.

I wanna make it easy and clear. So when you have a lot of sugar, the insulin allows the sugar in so that it creates enough ATP or enough gas for the whole respiratory chain reaction to happen. Okay? But that’s all that it does. In order for the rest to happen, you need to have other things.

Dr. Patti: And so that everybody understands this, we’re talking about respiratory at the cellular level. Not breathing into the lungs, but inside the cell itself, the use of oxygen to make energy. I know that can be a confusing term for people.

Dr. Akoury: That respiration at the cellular level is key to life. Is key to energy production. So mitochondria are poisoned by sugar, and mitochondria are the energy unit of every single cell. It’s the machine that creates gas. So if you paralyze that machine from creating gas, we call that mitochondropathy. The mitochondria are incapable of performing their essential function of creating gas. So you need gas, you need healthy mitochondria, and that’s really essential.

Sugars vs. essential fats for mitochondrial health

[00:09:55] Dr. Akoury: When you eat carbohydrates, you only create four calories per gram of sugar. While with a gram of fat, you’re creating at least nine calories. So a gram of sugar is not creating enough ATP or energy while it’s damaging the mitochondria. Healthy fats, like essential fats such as omega threes and six and some nines in particular, and some good sixes, create the membrane of each cell. That’s where all the interactions happen. That cell membrane is made mostly of good fats, especially omega threes because they’re mobile; they don’t harden. So any receptor can come in and talk, and it’s transmitted and transmitted to the nucleus where the DNA response is.

So you have to have healthy fats, and eating fats is fuel for the mitochondria. That’s why people do more of what we call the ketogenic diet, a fat-based diet. Now, I don’t believe in that all the way, either. I like the modification of that cause too much fat is not good either, and too much omega threes can tip the balance over again.

[00:11:24] Dr. Patti: You said a few really important things about how sugar affects the mitochondria that I think we want to reinforce and highlight. Too much sugar can cause the mitochondria to become less efficient and produce less energy. Sugar doesn’t provide the mitochondria with all the essential nutrients they need. Healthy fats do provide essential nutrients that allow the mitochondria to produce more energy, so to have more efficient mitochondria, limiting sugar and getting more healthy fats can be really helpful.

And on that note, the key, as always, is balance. And that can change from one person to another.

Sugars, Hemoglobin A1C, glycation, and inflammation

[00:12:00] Dr. Akoury: The key is balance. The key is helping the body to feel good and look good. So yes, sugar is damaging. And then, because of the sugar and the inflammation that the sugar causes, we have a marker or an indicator that we’re already having damage, which is what we call hemoglobin a1c or the a1c.
That is like glycated protein; instead of being a normal protein, it becomes glycated, which is the damaged protein. And that’s an indicator that we are developing metabolic syndrome. In order for you to be not diabetic or pre-diabetic, your A1C needs to be less than 5.6. If it’s between 5.7 to 6.3, you are a pre-diabetic. When it goes above that, you are diabetic. So what my job, your job, our job is to keep people from getting to a hemoglobin A1C above six. No, I want it less than 5.7. That’s where you can help them. Once you see a 5.7 to 6.3, you can reverse it quicker and have less glycation.
Glycation means a protein that is damaged, and it deposits in different parts. It can deposit in the brain. We develop dementia. It can deposit in the kidneys. We develop kidney problems. It deposits in the eyes, and you have blurry vision and acuity issues. It can deposit in the nerves, and you have neuritis neuropathy.
And then the more glycation, the more sugar, the more insulin, the more risk for cancer.

[00:13:57] Dr. Patti: Since we talked about A1C, let’s talk about how a person can monitor or test how their body is doing with sugar. And there are a lot of different ways out there. Continuous glucose monitors, testing of fasting glucose, A1C. So talk about the available tests and what someone would be looking at to see how their body is actually responding.

Can stress raise blood sugar?

[00:14:19] Dr. Akoury: You need to become more in tune with your body. We often think it’s what we are eating, but we also forget our stress level.
So what happens under stress? Sugar creates quick energy, very little energy, but quick. During stress, when you have that fight or flight moment, you have to be able to quickly move, Okay? You either fight, you need the energy or fly, and you need the energy. So in order for you to have quick energy production, you’re able to degrade the glycogen that is stored in your liver. Cause all carbohydrates, after digestion, whatever is not used, become deposited in the liver as glycogen. In a time of need, when you are in fight or flight, we create something called gluconeogenesis. You’re trying to create sugar very quickly by either creating sugar or by metabolizing your glycogen back into simple sugars so that insulin can help that simple sugar get into the cytoplasm of the cell before it gets to the mitochondria. It creates enough energy. Does that make sense?

How do I know if I’m becoming insulin-resistant?

[00:15:46] Amir: Some people that listen at this point. They’re probably wondering how I know if I even have a sugar problem because it seems okay. I don’t think I have a problem. You said something really powerful: you need to be in tune with your body. How do I actually know if I have a problem? And it doesn’t have to be full-blown diabetes. It can be just small signs of insulin resistance. Don’t wait until it’s gonna get too wild.

[00:16:10] Dr. Akoury: Any time you are overweight, you are insulin resistant. Why is that? Because as we said earlier, if you’re eating carbohydrates, you know yourself. If you’re eating a lot of carbohydrates, if you’re under a lot of stress, you know you have a lot of sugar. That means you have a lot of insulin that needs to be produced. Any time you produce a lot of insulin, what happens is insulin creates what we call lipogenesis. So insulin helps you deposit more fat. So anytime you are overweight, you are at risk for metabolic syndrome. So then you need to make sure you have your hemoglobin a1c checked. If your A1C is 5.7 or above until 6.3, you are pre-diabetic.

You better do something so that you don’t get into the diabetes state. This is exactly the same way we do self breasts examinations. Stop cancer from becoming cancer. By looking at your body and realizing you are at risk. How are you at risk? Are you under stress? You are at risk. Are you overweight? You are at risk. Do you have wounds that don’t get better quicker? You are at risk. Do you have lots of yeast infections? Guess what? You are at risk. Why? We said sugar attracts yeast. You’re too acidotic. They do a blood gas, or you check your pH, and you see you’re too acidic. Guess what? You are at risk. You have skin problems. You have skin wounds that don’t get better. You have infections that don’t go away. We talked about sugar, attracting infections, and bacteria. Fermentation. Do you have neuropathy feeling your nerves are doing like this?
Do you have erectile dysfunction? Do you have hormonal imbalances? Each one of these can indicate you are at risk for metabolic syndrome. PCOS, polycystic ovary syndrome in women with fertility issues, can indicate insulin resistance. So then you ask your doctor to check your blood sugar. Now you can even have apps that help you check your blood sugar on a regular basis.

Preventing metabolic syndrome

[00:18:32] Dr. Akoury: You have ways to know if your sugar is 90 or above. You have to be a little bit more careful. Then you may want a hemoglobin a1c done. It has to be 5.7 or less. Or you have to ask your doctor to even check your insulin level. It may be a problem if your insulin is greater than 17. That means you are producing a lot more insulin. You’re becoming resistant. Resistant means that it needs a lot more insulin in order for the cell membrane to allow sugar in. So you are becoming insulin resistant. A lot of things can indicate that you are at risk. Your blood pressure is up. Think insulin resistance.
Make sure cuz cardiovascular issues are an indication of heart disease. When we talked about erectile dysfunction for men, what is erectile dysfunction? It’s a cardiovascular dysfunction. It’s heart dysfunction. What causes heart dysfunction? Too much sugar makes that happen. So these are things that really can make you suspicious of this.

There’s genetic testing to see if you have methylation issues or anything that really puts you at a higher risk of becoming insulin resistant. A lot of good reasonable genetic testing and genes that you look for. Looking at the mitochondria, some genes help us to understand what’s happening at the mitochondrial level.

[00:20:07] Dr. Patti: How often do you recommend that people do some of this testing? Like, how often should they check blood glucose? How often do you think an A1C is warranted? Or do you base it just on people’s symptoms and only test if you see signs of a problem? What do you recommend?

[00:20:23] Dr. Akoury: Prevention is better than cure. You don’t have to have a continuous blood sugar monitor, but just check yourself and check maybe once or twice. If you are overweight, you have to think pre-diabetic. If you have fatigue, you have to think pre-diabetic. If you’re under stress.
So what do you do then? Then you ask your doctor to check your a1c. Not only should you wait for them, but you start changing your lifestyle. You start understanding that sugar is toxic. You have to start understanding that sugar is the death sentence. Okay? And you need to start understanding that sugar is not only coming from food; It can come from stress.

And sugar can come from food that is already rotten. Rotten food is sweet, already creating a sugar overload. You don’t want a sugar overload. So you want to start thinking, what am I eating? Am I eating too many fruits, either? You have to be mindful even with fruits. You only take three servings of fruits at a maximum a day. And especially if the fruits are high in glycemic index. What is a high glycemic index? When you eat foods, they turn into sugar very fast. So you have to be a little bit mindful of this.

Effect of sweeteners on insulin resistance

[00:21:43] Dr. Akoury: The other thing that you have to be mindful of, you think stevia is safe. Stevia is probably one of the safest, but even stevia is not safe. You can gain weight on stevia. Why? Because stevia gives you the same feeling, the same taste. So the message that goes to the brain then goes to the pancreas, say there’s a lot of sweetness here, so you may create more insulin, even on stevia. When you create more insulin, you’re gonna gain weight.

[00:22:13] Dr. Patti: Important to think about that with sweeteners. Anything that tastes sweet, even if it doesn’t spike your blood sugar, if it makes your body think it’s going to, then you’re gonna end up with some insulin from that. And you are almost training the body to become insulin resistant by secreting insulin. And then there’s no sugar that you’re teaching your cells to ignore the insulin signal.

[00:22:32] Amir: And that’s such an important takeaway. We hear from so many people that use sweeteners daily and they notice they develop a sweet tooth. After a while, their meals or smoothies don’t taste as sweet anymore unless they add more and more sweeteners. So just like you said, even with natural sweeteners like stevia, we do need to be mindful of how they make us feel. I mean, these things are natural and can be very helpful, better than sugar, but they’re still isolated extracts. They’re like hundreds of times sweeter than sugar.

The importance of eating foods in their natural state

[00:23:05] Dr. Akoury: I want to say one more thing that is very important. I believe in God, okay? I respect everyone, whatever faith they have. However, when you talk about nature, whether you want to call it God or the universe, anything that comes together and you isolate it can become dangerous. Okay? If you eat a plant, any plant, it has a lot of phytonutrients, and they work together to create a symphony that makes things work beautifully together.

And when you isolate a piece, like even when people started isolating CBD or THC, and I don’t wanna take us away. The whole plant – the effect is so much different than isolation of any single thing because, as you said, Amir, it really concentrates. It concentrates this thing a hundred times, and your body does not need it that way.

It needs to be beautifully together in a symphony. So it works together in a beautiful way. So when we isolate even monk fruit, if we isolate even stevia, we remove every other phytochemical and keep just one. There is no richness in one. The richness is in the whole. So eating whole food, raw food, and less processed food means you are eating the whole, and the whole is so beautiful, and it’s just so important for healing.

There is a conversation between our body, our DNA, and the environment through what we eat. It’s a conversation. It’s a dialogue. It turns on certain genes and turns off certain genes. So insulin resistance happens because we turn on genes to produce more insulin or to produce more things because we need them. So we are manipulating everything every day.

Keto diet, eating according to your genes and the season

[00:25:14] Dr. Patti: Earlier, you mentioned the ketogenic diet. So maybe talk a little about how that eating plan might impact the body and the body’s sensitivity to insulin and sugar.

Dr. Akoury: Again, even with Ketogenic, it scares me because we are isolating things, Okay? Your genes are determined by your parents and the environment you were born in. So a person from Alaska can eat a lot more fat and fish than we can because they’re genetically made for that. So even when we transplant people from Alaska, or we transplant us to Alaska, the food that works for Alaskans is different than what we have.

So we have to pay attention to several things when we are eating. One is to know our ancestors. Where are we coming from? So if you’re Mediterranean, you cannot really eat the food that people from colder places can eat. Okay? So you have to be able to eat food that matches your genetic makeup.

Why? Because the genes are working in accordance with your environment. So the genes that are already turned on in you may be different than what was turned on in me and so forth. So we need to really at least be mindful of our ancestry or our genetic makeup.

Second, we need to be more mindful of the season and seasonal food because the body is preparing for the next season. So what I eat in the fall helps me prepare for the winter and what I eat in the summer helps me prepare for the fall and so forth. So really being mindful of seasonal food is very important. Being mindful of the genetic makeup is very important. And the more we eat as our ancestors, which is really a paleo diet, is way more reasonable for me, and it’s more a whole food diet.
And it’s not isolating sugar, either. It’s just more whole food.

Once we eat just meat or fat. Doesn’t matter where we’re coming from. We’re creating artificial environments. It’s not what the body needs. That’s why I like a modified keto diet, and I like to do keto diets extremely carefully.

I use it for certain people with seizure disorders. People who have to help their mitochondria to be a little bit better because ketogenic helps the mitochondria. And mitochondria health is what we talked about, Amir, about longevity. Healthy mitochondria are very important for longevity and many other things. We’re here to maintain the beauty of humanity and living way longer than we used to. So now we have to be mindful of what we’re doing and eating and drinking.

Intermittent fasting: common mistakes & important considerations

[00:28:28] Dr. Patti: How do you feel about intermittent fasting? Do you feel like that’s beneficial for insulin and blood sugar?

Dr. Akoury: I love intermittent fasting, but again, everything has to really mean something. Every religion and every faith on the planet uses fasting. Fasting not only detoxes your spirit, but it also detoxes the body. So fasting generally is a time of rest for the gut where the gut can heal, and the body can heal.
And you can’t keep the body working 24 7. You can’t. And every time you eat or chew on anything, you continuously use all the genes. You’re confusing the body from healing. You need to give time for the gut to heal. Now, what breaks the fast? Breakfast is the word; break the fast. Usually, most people should eat at 6 PM last meal, 5-6 PM, walk a tiny bit, and then have the next meal the next day to break the fast. So from 6-8 o’clock the next day, that’s 14 hours, right? That’s the breaking the fast. Some people do 16, and some people do 18. You have to be very careful, and that does not give you permission to eat anything you want during the six hours of no fasting.

So the word intermittent fasting without any connotation with it may not mean that you’re healing. Just because you’re intermittent fasting and eating the wrong things afterward is not really helping you. We have to break the fast. I recommend that we eat the last meal at 6 PM and give the gut rest. We can also fast intermittently for holidays, like many religions. Those are good fasting.

So those are called intermittent fasting. And most religions would have at least one day a week where you’re fasting. That really resets the system. Intermittent fasting, if it’s not done correctly, can cause damage. Water fasting can cause a lot of damage if you’re toxic. You have to be very careful when you do that.

Dr. Patti: Would you recommend most people try to fast one day a week?

Dr. Akoury: Even intermittent fasting for two or three days a week, but also be mindful. Anything you do on a regular basis, 24/7 – you have to cycle everything. What do you think, Amir?

Amir: I think you mentioned something huge, which is cycling fasting. And this is super important for people to consider because there are a lot of trendy time-restrictive eating patterns. One meal a day, 16/8, et cetera. And you said it in our previous discussions – the body gets used to it. It’s not creating that effect. It may create a bit of stress. I think it’s a huge key takeaway for people to recognize that maybe cycling makes things a little bit more confusing for the body, which is actually good. Variety is a spice of life, right? It turns out it also holds a health and wellness sort of wisdom.

Dr. Akoury: You’re correct, the wisdom of all the ancestors. Wisdom of all religions. There’s wisdom; we have ignored that wisdom and think we know better. And when we talk about intermittent fasting, we don’t think about the quality of food at times. So just because it’s intermittent fasting, that does not mean I can eat sugar for six hours straight or fat for six hours straight.

It means eating healthier. Be more conscious, and give rest to your bowel. And give time for the bowel to heal and start doing its job. If we do it naturally, we really do it the way that our body was trained to do by our ancestors. That’s why Paleo is a good thing. Definitely cycling intermittent fasting is very important to help restore and reset insulin assistance.

Dr. Patti: And when you say fasting, are you referring to not eating at all? Are you referring to maybe eating a little bit less or eating differently than how you normally would eat? Like what does fasting mean there?

Dr. Akoury: Fasting means you don’t eat for 12 or 16 hours. We’re supposed to eat the last big meal at 6 PM, 7 PM at the most. Now guess what? Many of us eat the last meal at 8-9 PM. We all go out to dinner with meetings and conferences. So most of our meals are at 9 PM. So now you have to wait 12 hours for food to be digested, for cleansing the gut, and for energy restoration.

Let me give you an example. What would happen if you have a kitchen and the kitchen is working 24/7? You’ll run out of everything. The kitchen has to have washing the dishes. Just like the body, we have time for washing the gut. We have time for resting the gut. We have to replenish the gut. We have to replenish cells. There’s a lot that is happening at night. So intermittent fasting is really important.

We’re doing it anyway if we’re eating correctly, but the word fasting, 16 hours and 8 or 14 hours and 10 or whatever, means absolutely nothing. What do you do during that eight hours? What are you eating? Are you eating proteins? Are you eating sugar? Are you eating a balanced meal? Are you eating what your body needs? It’s not just an open buffet from eight to six. During those eight hours, it’s not an open buffet where you eat what you want. You have to really think – I have to be mindful of sugars. I have to be mindful of simple carbohydrates. I have to be mindful of gluten. You still have to maintain the whole thing. Eat more whole food, and eat more according to your type and genetic makeup. Eat healthy.

Dr. Patti: Would you ever recommend that people go a whole day without eating or even more than a day? Or would you normally just go with intermittent fasting? So we’re leaving periods where we’re not eating.

Dr. Akoury: You can’t live without water for too long. You really can’t. When dehydration happens, you are a disaster. So we need to make sure, even if we fast, that you have time where you drink at least. Even if you are fasting for a day, you can do that. It’s cleansing, it’s healing, it’s all. But if you do it for a very long time and you don’t replenish, it’s not okay. You have to make sure you drink enough water. Anything done in the past by our ancestors may still be good for us today. So you can have a whole day where you don’t eat, but you don’t stay more than 24 hours without eating. Some people, if they do that, they have to at least drink or otherwise have a complete shutdown. Because when you dehydrate, it affects your kidneys. It affects your blood pressure and it affects your brain functions. So you really have to at least drink. Fasting without anything- I would not even do it for 24 hours, at least for the hydration.

Dr. Patti: So, at least, the fluids. Beautiful.

Coffee, insulin resistance and metabolic health

[00:35:58] Dr. Patti: How do you feel about coffee and blood sugar control? (laughing). The face you made was interesting. Yeah. So talk to us about coffee and metabolic health.

Dr. Akoury: A lot of controversies. I love coffee, but I don’t drink it anymore. I may drink it sometimes. It’s good to do things sometimes, even if it’s wrong, so the body has to be able to raise its immunity or its power to deal with different things.

I love coffee. I love the aroma of coffee. But when you drink coffee, unless you get the very best coffee, you may put yourself at risk for aflatoxins and a lot of toxic things. The more you burn the coffee, the darker the coffee is, the worse the coffee is. If you don’t have organic coffee that is void of aflatoxins and void of fungi, you may cause harm. So you really wanna be mindful.

Now, if I would make coffee, I would choose coffee beans over ground coffee and grind them fresh before I use them. Coffee has oils, and they get oxidized. They become rancid. Oxidation is rancidity. So rancid coffee is very dangerous and causes more inflammation in the body. So as much as coffee is antioxidant, if your coffee is already in a powder form and you leave it on the shelf for a day or two, it may cause issues.

If I have coffee, I’ll put it in the refrigerator, and I also freeze most of the coffee beans. The more organic coffee beans that come from less roasting, like greener the lighter, the better off they are. And then, if you wanna drink it, just grind it as you go. Keep it refrigerated and sealed. Same thing as flax seed. Flax seed oil can get oxidized, which would be as dangerous because polyunsaturated fat becomes saturated fat. And you think it’s not dangerous because it’s flaxseed oil. It’s not. It is now dangerous because it’s oxidized.

Dr. Patti: What about the impact of coffee on blood sugar?

Dr. Akoury: There is controversy on that. Some studies show that it increases insulin resistance, and some studies show that it doesn’t. In general, I would think it would increase insulin resistance. It increases insulin production. It causes a problem if you also have added sugar. So really, it depends.

We can also talk about what we call toxic load. If your toxic load is this much and you have a big vase that can tolerate it, its capacity is two or five liters, and you have this much toxin in it, you can add more with no problem. But if you have a toxic load overflowing and you just give a tiny bit of coffee right now, it may overflow. But your body is capable of detoxing beautifully if you are cycling like we’re doing things the right way.

Amir: I think you just nailed it. With coffee, not only does quality matter, but also it’s highly personalized. A lot of people that are fasting and doing keto – for them that just one little cup of coffee in the morning makes it doable and makes them happy. They’re not hungry. They don’t need to go through all these little snacking, and they feel great. However, for some individuals, coffee can make them anxious or cause them more stress. I think there are a lot of individual responses when it comes to coffee, and it is one of the most highly consumed stimulants in the world or in the US.

Dr. Akoury: Coffee has antioxidants that can help with dementia. You have to be very careful with everything else. If people have coffee from beans, it’s fine, but look at all those pods right now. These are nothing but toxic.

Dr. Patti: Putting hot water through plastic – bad idea.

Dr. Akoury: And people pay a lot of money for these. If I have to drink coffee, I get it from coffee beans and good sources of coffee beans and organic coffee beans. And if anything has to be organic and has to be clear of aflatoxins, it will be coffee.

Supplements for insulin resistance and metabolic health

[00:40:17] Dr. Patti: Are they any supplements that can help people to maintain their metabolic health? Do you recommend any supplements or mainly changing how and when you eat?

Dr. Akoury: You’re beautiful. Okay. Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is very helpful. Chromium picolinate really helps. Berberine is another really good thing to help protect us. Cinnamon is incredible. Fenugreek is really good at helping stabilize sugar and stabilize insulin production a bit.
Bitter melon is really a good thing. Some B vitamins are really good because they help with fat storage. And eating whole proteins are really good.

Dr. Patti: Are those supplements that you recommend to everybody, or is that something that if somebody starts to have some issues with the blood sugar?

Dr. Akoury: I recommend them all the time. When they do cinnamon buns. Why do you think they have cinnamon in them? Why do you think the Greeks have cinnamon in the Baklava? Lebanese and Egyptians don’t put much cinnamon in the Baklava. Why do you think cinnamon is in sweeteners, in sweet stuff? Helps the body deal with sugar. My grandbaby he’s only four years old, and I taught him to love cinnamon. So I gave him cinnamon sticks, and I made him do cinnamon sticks stuff.

Amir: I’m blown away. Because you have to appreciate the wisdom of our ancestors and all these ancient cultures. How do they even know to combine cinnamon with all these sweet beverages or foods? And there are so many examples of that. They actually knew it way before science was there to say, oh yeah, cinnamon helps to regulate blood sugar.

Dr. Akoury: That’s the wisdom I told you about. That is innate wisdom. We’re born with that wisdom.

Dr. Patti: A good reminder that the things that are good for us can be things that are delightful and joyful. It doesn’t have to be a process of depriving ourselves of things. Cinnamon is wonderful.

Dr. Akoury: Your job at home is to train your children to develop a tooth for the stuff that is good for them. As Amir said, our ancestors knew what was right. And if you go to any ethnic group, you’ll see that the elderly of those ethnic groups knew everything. And they did not communicate. And they’re from different continents. So the wisdom we talked about is the universal knowledge we can tap into. The only way we can do that is to become in tuned and align spirit, mind, and body together so that everything works beautifully and understand the language, the dance, and the music between the environment and our genes so we can all not only survive but thrive.

Dr. Akoury’s smoothie recipe

[00:43:02] Dr. Patti: Beautiful, Beautiful message. We were also hoping that you might be willing to share a favorite recipe or a smoothie that you recommend people make that would really help people support their metabolic health and something that’s also really nice to consume.

Dr. Akoury: Okay, so number one. I really appreciate you for asking me. You’re putting me on the spot because I didn’t have anything prepared, but I will tell you.

So I do smoothies. I often use nuts and seeds as a base for everything. Not only are they rich in proteins, but they’re also very rich in different oils that are very good for us. So I can put some macadamia nuts, maybe half a tablespoon of macadamia nuts, half a tablespoon of sunflower seeds, and then 16 ounces of water. In that, I would put half a stick of cinnamon, and I will put whatever else I want. I can put a little bit of blueberries, maybe half a cup of blueberries and a fourth of a cup of Raspberries because they have a lot of great things. A little spinach, and then maybe a drop of stevia if you want to or don’t.

And then you make a beautiful shake. It has the cinnamon, it has the greens, it has the nuts with the oils that are very helpful. That’s how you make the milk. You can make milk from sunflower seeds. You can make milk from macadamia nuts. I sometimes like to put a tiny bit of a tree from Africa that has an incredible amount of all the vitamins and everything, Moringa. A tablespoon of moringa with that. And it really tastes like cannabis. But I have never tasted cannabis.

Amir: I heard there’s a lot of evidence on moringa and blood sugar control.

Dr. Akoury: Absolutely.

Lifestyle considerations for metabolic health

[00:44:59] Dr. Patti: We’ve talked so much about food. But what about other lifestyle impacts on blood sugar? So exercise …

Dr. Akoury: Exercise is key. Especially aerobic exercises, walking, swimming, anaerobic, and yoga. Those are very good. Meditation because it really helps the cortisol to go down and the insulin to go down and restore that sugar balance. Stress causes sugar. You don’t have to eat sugar to have metabolic syndrome. That’s what most people don’t understand. I don’t eat. Yeah, but you are stressed, and then you have so much sugar, so you have so much insulin. Then if you have so much insulin, you have lipogenesis.

Dr. Patti: So controlling stress, that’s a whole kind of topic on its own, but really important to think about with blood sugar. If you’re having blood sugar issues.

Dr. Akoury: Stress reduction, sleep. If you don’t sleep, you’re gonna have high sugar. Cause your cortisol level is gonna be up.

Dr. Patti: All of these things. Really important to think about.

Amir: A lot of people notice that when they measure their blood glucose levels in the morning, they see a correlation. This is anecdotal evidence, but if they’ve been under a lot of stress, regardless of what they eat, they see that their fasting glucose levels are high.

Dr. Akoury: Fasting sugar is going to be high.

Amir: Yeah. And so if they’re not aware of that, they’re going back to the diet. Oh, maybe I should not eat this, but in fact, like you said, it’s just the stress.

Dr. Akoury: That’s one thing I always talk about: the effect of stress on survivorship and the power over our fight and flight response. Because we want to be beyond that survivorship. We wanna be in a thrivership mode, which we really are not. Some of us who are conscious are. And I try to be as conscious as I can.

That’s one thing I always talk about: the effect of stress on survivorship and the power over our fight and flight response. Because we want to be beyond that survivorship. We wanna be in a thrivership mode, which we really are not. Some of us who are conscious are. And I try to be as conscious as I can.

Dr. Patti: Amir, did you have any other questions you wanted to ask?

Skinny fat and insulin resistance

[00:46:41] Amir: There’s this one super popular topic that seems to confuse everyone. It’s a term called skinny fat. So we mentioned that obesity is definitely a risk factor for metabolic syndrome. However, a lot of people may be in normal weight, even low body weight, but they may still have insulin resistance and they are unaware of it. And for those listeners who haven’t heard of this term, skinny fat means that you have a normal weight or BMI, but your body composition is off. So you may have a high percentage of body fat and a low amount of muscle mass.

Dr. Akoury: You can look skinny. But you are already having metabolic dysfunction cause your blood sugar is up. See, once you get insulin resistance, what does insulin resistance mean? You have to produce a lot more insulin to help sugar penetrate the cell membrane or sensitize the cell membrane to sugar, right? When you are insulin resistant, you’re gonna result in pancreatic failure.
When the pancreas fails, you’re not making any more insulin. When you’re not making insulin, you won’t be storing fat. So you may have metabolic syndrome, and you may even be diabetic. And actually, you can start losing weight because you’re not making insulin anymore.

Amir: So how does a person that, let’s say, they’re in a healthy weight, et cetera, and they still have insulin resistance, are there any signs they can be aware of, or are there any tests?

Dr. Akoury: If they have insulin resistance, that is from checking their insulin level. Okay. The insulin level is too low, too much lower than 17, or too much higher than 17 is a problem. The second really important thing is that if their hemoglobin A1C is up, they already have metabolic syndrome. So they can start cinnamon, they can start stress reduction, they can sleep more, they can start exercising, they can start getting fenugreek, they can start eating better. Once you have metabolic syndrome, whether you’re skinny metabolic syndrome or fat metabolic syndrome. That means your pancreas is done.

Can humans survive without sugar?

Amir: Another key takeaway for people, and there’s a lot of talks in that too, is how much sugar I actually need. Is it an essential nutrient? And you alluded to that. You really need essential fats. The body cannot make those things, but the body can make sugar from other things.

Dr. Akoury: Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. It’s not essential. Sugar is a sign of decay. Sugar is a sign of aging. So you nailed it in the beginning. You said longevity and sugar. I tell you, everything that is old has sugar.

Dr. Patti: That’s a perfect message to end on. Just make sure everybody keeps that in mind. Things that are old have sugar.

Dr. Akoury: If you’re too sweet, you’re too old.

Dr. Patti: Thank you so much, Dr. Akoury, for being here and for sharing so much wisdom and knowledge with everybody. Really a lot of information for many people to think about.

Dr. Akoury: We can do a lot to help people. Sugar and diabetes are very expensive. Sugar causes lives, it causes cancer, it causes strokes, it causes heart diseases, it causes anguish, and it ages us. It’s a decaying to our system. So let’s not be that sweet.

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