About oat milk and pasta: Martina’s Insights with Hello Inside
In this article, one of our dear users shares what she could learn from using the Hello Inside app. Martina’s story shows how individual our bodies react to diet and exercise, and she shared some of her most interesting insights with us.
Hello Inside: Dear Martina, can you tell us about how your journey with Hello Inside has started?
Martina: Shortly after I made the decision to understand my body even better, I already held the package from Hello Inside in my hands. I was very excited, but also a little nervous, because the sensor was attached to my upper arm with a small needle. The needle doesn’t stay in, but only a thin thread, but still I was skeptical about how this would work out. After carefully reading the instruction manual, I first cleaned my upper arm, checked the area for moles, and then I was ready to go. Wham! I pressed down the applicator (the one with the needle) and attached the sensor to my upper arm almost painlessly… almost, it tingled a bit at first. But this feeling disappeared relatively quickly, soon I no longer felt the sensor. Which makes sense, because the sensor is only the size of a 2-euro coin. After the sensor had calibrated itself within an hour, the four-week glucose journey could begin.
Why did you want to measure your blood glucose?
For a long time, I only knew continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) from people with diabetes. In recent months, however, I have heard more and more often that even healthy people can track their glucose metabolism – not only to prevent health risks, but also to get to know their own body better. I was also curious to see what I could learn from real-time and long-term monitoring of my own glucose levels about certain foods, sleep, exercise, stress, and my cycle.
What were your first questions when starting the programme?
Is the sensor waterproof? Since I go swimming once or twice a week and wakeboarding from time to time, I didn’t want to limit myself in these activities. During the first swimming sessions, I wore a waterproof patch. Since this patch did not stick very well for me and came off relatively early, I simply left the patch off. The result: An hour in the water does not affect the sensor and even sauna visits without a patch are possible. What you should know, however, is that the adhesive of the sensor can loosen during longer water activities and thus also fall off at some point. I ended up using a tape that kept the sensor in place during sports activities. (Note from Hello Inside: We are currently looking for a supplier for Hello Inside patches, so you don’t have to organize patches yourself).
What was your biggest surprise?
That was clearly my morning cocoa with oat drink. I did not expect such a high spike (peak = rapid increase in glucose level). I decided to not use cow’s milk for various reasons, but the oat drink apparently also has its downsides. At least for me. (Note Hello Inside: Many other users also report a strong increase in blood sugar when consuming oat drinks, even without added sugar).
For me, the journey into the world of milk alternatives was just beginning, because I did not want to stop with these results. So I bought all kinds of milk alternatives from pea drink, rice drink, coconut drink, almond drink to oat drink with zero percent sugar. Bottom line, the pea drink was my personal blood sugar winner. It has little impact on blood sugar due to its higher protein content and lower carbohydrate content. Coconut milk and almond milk only slightly elevate blood sugar and do not create a spike. The rice drink as well as the oat drink cause a relatively high and rapid glucose rise. The biggest surprise for me, however, was the oat drink with zero percent sugar. I really hadn’t expected a blood glucose value of 180 mg/dl (see Figure 1).
Which other insights about your diet could you gather during your time using Hello Inside?
A pizza as well as pasta are known to be loaded with carbohydrates. One day I had a pizza and a chocolate pudding for dessert and had a glucose spike soon after (see Figure 2). Nothing surprising. On another day, I had carbonara with red wine, pistachio and vanilla ice cream and the blood glucose remained constant (see Figure 3). Initially, I thought this might be due to the cycle phase. On the other hand, upon closer analysis, I realized that while a pasta carbonara contains carbohydrates, it also contains a large amount of protein and fat (from egg, bacon/ham, cheese). The pistachio ice cream also contains quite a bit of fat… and then there’s the effect of the alcohol. So this combination of proteins, fats and carbohydrates plus alcohol seems to have been okay for my blood sugar at first glance.
These soundlike very exciting observations and a few “aha” moments. You also said at the beginning that you wanted to know how your blood sugar is related to your cycle. What did you find out?
It seems that my blood sugar is more stable during my luteal phase as well as my menstrual phase than during the proliferative phase. Since I ate the same breakfast every day, consisting of gluten-free oats, almond paste, wild blueberries and date syrup, I could see clear differences here. During my luteal phase, this breakfast had hardly any effect on my blood sugar. On the other hand, during my proliferative phase, I could see a stronger increase in blood sugar. But to make this determination with more certainty, I would have to run the Hello Hormones program a second time. Then, I would be able to determine even more precisely which foods in which phase have what effect.
Super interesting what you have observed. How would you summarize your findings now?
The four-weeks of continuous glucose measurement gave me a good first insight into the influence of certain foods, sleep, sport, stress and the menstrual cycle on my blood glucose levels. I also became aware again of how complex the human and especially the female body is. It showed me once again how individual each person is. What works for me may not work for my friends. This “looking into oneself” is a wonderful example that standard nutrition recommendations are very generalized but may not be applicable for each individual. It was also during this time that I really became aware of the fact that the individual cycle phases deserve much more attention, as different glucose reactions can occur depending on the hormones. But the most important thing is not to drive yourself crazy, but to make conscious decisions. Because sometimes I just feel like having coffee with oat drink, vanilla ice cream or a glass of wine.
So thank you for letting me try the Hello Hormones program. I was able to find out what my body likes or dislikes, and which factors influence my blood sugar and to what extent.
Martina Zollner, sports scientist and athlete, shared her experience with Hello Inside in this interview.