#335 Breast Cancer Grains and Genetics - Can Carbs be Healthy

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A breast cancer diagnosis is a crisis that often drives us to rethink our lifestyle and nutrition.

But how do you know which foods are the right foods for you?

In this episode, I’ll give you some insights on how genetics can give you some direction on what foods are the best ones for your body.

We’ll also talk about symptoms you can check for if you don’t have a genetic report and what carbohydrates are best for supporting optimal health.


Referred to in this episode:

Work with Laura

Genetic Report U.S. only:
3X4 Blueprint

Internationally available test:
Nutrition Genome

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 Read the full transcript: 

Laura Lummer 0:00 You're listening to better than before breast cancer with the breast cancer recovery coach. I'm your host, Laura Lummer. I'm a certified life coach, and I'm a breast cancer thriver. In this podcast, I will give you the skills and the insights and the tools to move past the emotional and physical trauma of a breast cancer diagnosis. If you're looking for a way to create a life, that's even better than before breast cancer, you've come to the right place. Let's get started. Laura Lummer 0:33 Hello, friends, welcome to episode 335. This is our Tuesday terrain talk. I love these Tuesday training talks. Because we get to really dig in deep to little simple aspects of things that we can do to support our body and our metabolic health. And today, we're going to talk about carbohydrates. And I'm not going to tell you don't eat carbohydrates. I'm not going to tell you don't eat sugar and flour. I mean, you already know that. So I don't have to tell you that. I want to talk about what I've learned about carbohydrates and how they affect my body. What are carbohydrates? How do they affect us the way they do? And what is how does our genetic predisposition play a role in our metabolic health when it comes to the consumption of carbohydrates? So one of the most fascinating things that I think I've stumbled across since I began my journey on the metabolic approach to healing my body is using my genetic report as a blueprint for how my body works. Now, that can sound overwhelming right off the bat for some people like Oh, geez, I don't want to talk about genes. I haven't even figured out how to stop eating donuts yet. And that's okay. Right? It's totally okay. Like you are wherever you're at. And so I am going to share some information about a couple of genes, and what they do what our predisposition is. But if that's something you're not interested in, I'm also going to give you an understanding of how you can tell in your body what's going on, without a genetic report, that it may give you some indications that you have a genetic predisposition to this and then what you can do to try to solve for that without knowing. Now, of course, I highly recommend getting a genetic blueprint, I think it is fascinating because our genes don't work on their own. They've got, you know, pathways they work together, it's totally fascinating. And a company that I recommend is 3x. Four, it is a company that I've moved to because it's just so user friendly. It's a something I love is an infographic and 3x Four uses a lot of infographics to show the user what's going on in their body and how they can support their genes through lifestyle practices, which is so empowering, in my opinion. And I'm going to talk a little bit about that today. So here's something I knew about my family in from my generation, right? So actually, not my generation, my dad, right, so from my mom and dad, and then my generation, my siblings. We have a genetic predisposition of familial predisposition to type two diabetes, and obesity. It was clear to me that watching family members and having my own experience in life, that there were many times that I was very frustrated about my healthy lifestyle practices. And still, my blood sugar wouldn't respond, or I had indications of insulin resistance that would come up in my lab work, and I would be so baffled. I would just be beside myself because I thought I eat so healthy. I don't understand this. And for me, I have peace of mind, because my genetic report solved that for me, I understand now, why would I perceived as healthy, which was healthy, which was a healthy diet wasn't the healthy diet for my body. So genetics can play a role. When it comes to carbohydrate sensitivity in a couple of different ways. They can make a difference in how our bodies metabolize sugars. And they can also make a difference in how our body responds to insulin. They can even play a role in how prone we are to feeling satisfied after eating a meal with carbohydrates. Pretty fascinating stuff. So there's two specific genes that I think are fascinating when it comes to the effect that they have on carbohydrates in our body. One I have is called the TCF seven L two. And this gene has been identified as one of the genes that's most strongly associated with type two diabetes risk. Wow, big aha moment. So I see that I have this gene like what the hell this suddenly makes sense, right? This gene are the variations on this gene. So if you have a polymorphism is snip variant in this gene and especially one that's got a long digital name, which is one that I have, that it's linked to an increased risk of developing type two diabetes, because of the way this gene causes the body to work. So it's believed to be related to the role in insulin secretion, and glucose metabolism in your body. So if you have this genetic variant, and you eat carbohydrates, and let's let me just start here, let's be clear on what a carbohydrate is, because oftentimes, I'll hear people say, protein, carbs, fats, and vegetables. And I think, why, why are we putting vegetables or fruits and vegetables in a different category? Fruits and vegetables are carbohydrates. They're complex carbohydrates. And that's an important thing to know. There's three macronutrients protein, fats, and carbohydrates, vegetables and fruits are carbohydrates. And I think that some people don't realize that. So when we talk about carbs, a lot of people say, well, we need to have carbohydrates in our diet. Well, carbohydrates are an important source of fuel, and vegetables are a great way to get them. And we'll talk more about that in a minute. So when we're consuming carbohydrates, and this, I wanted to point out what carbohydrates were because we're talking about grains, specifically, right. So whether your grain is a refined carbohydrate, meaning like white flour, or white sugar, processed food, or it's a whole grain, a whole grain is still a carbohydrate, but it's got more fiber in it. So it kind of slows down the glucose spike that we get from it. And this is why vegetables and fruits also being carbohydrates, which means that they've got a lot of water in them, but they have a lot of fiber in them as well. And they have lots of other phytonutrients and vitamins, which we'll touch on all that in a minute. So if we have this TC F seven L to snip, what happens is we have impaired insulin secretion and sensitivity. So that means that our body does it really make insulin as well as a body you didn't have this genetic snip would, and that we may not be as sensitive to it like that gene makes us less sensitive to insulin. What does insulin do amongst other things, one of the things it senses that there's glucose, right, our body senses that we ate, our blood sugar increases, our pancreas makes insulin knocks on the cell doors and says, Hey, cells open up and take this glucose into you to make energy. But when we've got this genetic variant, it doesn't work, right. So when we consume carbohydrates, if we have that snip, our bodies may really struggle to manage our blood sugar levels efficiently. This is what I discovered about myself. So this can lead to higher blood sugar levels after eating compared to people who don't have that variant. And that was so eye opening for me, because I thought about the grains I ate, which were whole grains as healthy foods, which I'm not saying they're not. But they weren't healthy for me, because my body was not reacting well, to these carbohydrates to grains. And when I realized that, if I'm eating quinoa, I might as well be eating white rice, because that's how my body responded to it. And it would cause me to have these glucose, these blood sugar levels, and I could not understand why they were so high. And then I would see in some labs that I also have high insulin levels, and I'm thinking what is going on? Right, I'm exercising and eating right at that time, I'm having trouble losing weight, I can't control this blood sugar, I don't know what else to do. And the key was stop eating grains. So I'm going to talk about that in a minute. Because don't freak out. You know, that doesn't mean you have to stop eating grains. But for me, the key was stop eating grains, that my body, the high insulin levels were an indication that I wasn't sensitive enough to this insulin, I couldn't understand why. And that explained it for me that this is definitely impacting my ability to produce and use insulin efficiently. So another way that we start to digest carbohydrates is in our mouth, right? This is what saliva does, it starts to break down carbohydrates in the mouth. And it from it signals to the rest of our digestive system is like, Hey, here's food that's coming. Here's what we need as far as enzymes, here's how we need to digest this food is on the way down, right? Well, one of those things that our body uses to start to digest food is called amylase. And amylase is an enzyme that's in saliva is secreted by the saliva and by the pancreas and it helps to break start which is down into sugars. So there is actually a gene, it's called a m y one AMI one, and that AMI one gene, it tells the body to make this enzyme, this amylase enzyme. And that makes the body more capable of digesting starches more efficiently. And so it can handle higher starchy diets better than people who don't have a lot of copies of this immune one gene. And when I say this, it just brings me I have a brother in law, who doesn't have an ounce of fat on him. He's 73 years old, he's very active, he's very physically active. And this guy can eat sugar like it's going out of style. He can eat doughnuts, he can eat crow nuts, he can, the breads, they just don't affect him, they don't have the same effect. And I watch him in amazement and envy, think I wish I could eat that many carbohydrates, that it just doesn't affect him. And I don't know his genetic, I don't know his genetic blueprint. But it's fascinating to see kind of from two ends of the digestive spectrum. On one, we can have an enzyme that starting in our mouse, it's going to have an effect on how we can use carbohydrates in our body. And on the other our pancreas again, as the food gets deeper into that digestive process is going to have a role on how well we can absorb that sugar. So it's really interesting when you get to know this stuff about yourself and say, Okay, this is why this is happening in me. Now I understand. And I'll tell you, because I say any dietary change requires thought change first. And when we have to make a change or decide to make a change in our life. That means avoiding or even eliminating a food or foods that we've typically really enjoyed a lot. That takes a lot of thought work. So for me, learning about the genetic blueprint of my body did help with that thought work because it was no longer like why isn't this working for me? Or this shouldn't affect me so much? Or, you know, why can I be like my brother in law? I saw it and I said, Okay, this is just what it is, I have this gene, this is how this gene affects my body. These are some things I can do to have it less expressive, I'm going to tell you in a minute, but it just helped me mentally to go. All right. I mean, that's just how this body works. It's like, if you go buy a fancy car, and the gas tank says premium fuel only, you better put premium fuel only in it or it's not going to run well, right. And for my body, putting grains in it makes it not run well. And so knowing that made it a little bit easier for me to make even more dietary changes. So how can you tell if you don't have a genetic report? And do you find that thought to be completely overwhelming? What are some indications that you might have these genetic predispositions? And that what can you do about it? So some of the indicators can be like my family had a history of type two diabetes, so a strong history of type two diabetes in your family. And type two diabetes, I think we always tend to associate it with overweight, and know that this gene that I'm talking about that affects your insulin secretion and sensitivity, this is regardless of overweight. Okay, so this gene can impair your glucose tolerance and your insulin resistance, whether you are normal weight or not. I think that's kind of an important thing to know. So you don't have to be overweight to think you're at a risk of type two diabetes. But if you see that history in your family like I do, I have that history in my family. I am not overweight. But still, my blood sugar is a constant, intentional challenge for me to regulate. It's pretty fascinating. So also, if you see a struggle with high blood sugar levels, like you hear you see high blood sugar levels, say you go in and you're fasting, and you get your blood sugar levels back and they're above 100. And you're thinking, how is that possible? I haven't even eaten in 12 hours. So hi, HB one z in your labs or if you have family members who struggle with blood sugar regulation. Also, if you had a if you've had pregnancies and you had gestational diabetes, that can be another indicator that you might be at a risk of having one of these genetic variants. If you've had Polycystic Ovarian Ovary Syndrome, that's another red flag that you may have some insulin resistance. And depending on your diet and your lifestyle, that if you're struggling to figure out why would I do everything right? Am I still insulin resistant? That might be another indicator. And as far as the AMI one gene, the gene that affects your saliva and your ability to start breaking down starches, some indicators that you may have that predisposition or Have you have digestive issues with starchy foods, so if you eat starchy foods, and you experience bloating, gas, gastrointestinal discomfort like constipation and diarrhea, or maybe alternating constipation and diarrhea, that could be another red flag that your genes are saying, we don't really like to work with grains isn't helping. And now, even in our brains, we can have some red flags. So Dr. Chris Palmer, the amazing author of the book, brain energy talks a lot about mood and some mental disorders as being a metabolic dysfunction like a metabolically broken brain. And he and his studies and his research and his experience, he believes that excessive carbohydrate intake leads to unstable blood sugar levels, which adversely affect the brain and the mood. And so for people who have metabolic issues like insulin resistance, this can actually exacerbate the symptoms of their mental disorders or mood disorders. Dr. Palmer links this intake, this high intake of carbohydrates to inflammation that lead to changes in the brain chemistry, and then that change in the brain chemistry produces symptoms like mood and mental disorders, pretty fascinating. I'll link to that book in the show notes. But it's just another thing to think about. If I'm hangry. If you find yourself being really moody, a lot, that maybe you have, I mean, this could be a million things, right? But just because we're talking about this, it could be that maybe the level of carbohydrates and grain intake in your diet, maybe it needs to be reduced, maybe you could eliminate it for a little bit. You know, I love to test my body, I love to be my own clinical trial, and just test things. I think that often when we say I'm never going to eat that, again, that's just too much for our brains and our brains, like I'm out. I'm not, I'm not doing that. But if we say, You know what, let me test this for three weeks. Let me test this for one month, then our brain can kind of handle Okay, okay, I'm not committing to anything. I'm just trying it out and see if you feel better. So if you notice some of the conditions I talked about, then maybe you try eliminating grains. And now I know that many people their first thought goes to eliminating a whole food group that's not healthy. Let me tell you, if you never ate another grain in your life, you would be fine. We don't need to eat grains to live and have a healthy life. Now, why is that? Because grains do have some good nutritional qualities like fiber, B vitamins like folate, vitamin riboflavin, they've got iron, magnesium, selenium, but guess what else does as well? Vegetables. So if we look at good sources of fiber, broccoli, Brussel, sprouts, leafy greens, apples, berries, pears, oranges. Laura Lummer 18:10 Legumes can also provide an legumes meaning beans, peas and lentils. But we've got to be careful, like lentils are a little lower as far as how many carbohydrates they have, but a half a cup of beans, or half a cup of legumes is considered a serving. Now, when we're taking the metabolic approach to health, the recommendation of a healthy kind of state of metabolic being would be what's called nutritional ketosis. And generally this can be different for everybody. But in general, the recommendation is consume 50 grams of carbohydrates a day or less to keep yourself in this healthy state of nutritional ketosis. Well, some beans like garbanzo beans or chickpeas and think maybe adzuki beans we have, you can Google them and look up carbohydrate content and beans. But for a half cup serving of some of these delicious beans and they are delicious, I love beans, they can have over 60 grams of carbohydrates just in a half a cup. Lentils are a little less I think that they're in the the teens to 20 range. But for me, someone who's you know trying to heal from an active kids reading process. I tried to stay in a higher level of ketosis which is 20 grams of carbohydrates or less a day. So that means the beans are out, you know on a regular basis like think about that 60 grams of carbohydrates and a half of a cup. Whereas I can eat huge salads with tons of vegetables in them on a regular basis and stay well under 20 grams of carbohydrates, but still get lots of the nutrients. So nuts and seeds are another valuable way to get your fiber in almonds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, B vitamins, you can get them from animal proteins, a eggs, dairy, liver, and again nuts and seeds like sunflower seeds, almonds, they're very rich in B vitamins. Iron, we say iron comes from grains. Meat is a wonderful source of red meat is a source of heme iron, which has been shown to be the most bioavailable meaning most easily absorbed by the human body heme iron. But meat is a good source of iron, leafy green vegetables, spinach, swiss chard, a pumpkin seeds, more nuts, cashews, magnesium we find in grains, but we also find it in almonds and pumpkin seeds in lentils in swiss chard, avocados, spinach, we find them in salmon, which I love salmon. Selenium is another nutrient that we find in grains, also in sardines in shrimp, and tuna, in chicken, in Turkey, in Brazil nuts, and in eggs, because think about what happens, like people think, oh, eliminating this, this food, eliminating this whole food group? Well, one, the problem with that would be am I going to get malnourishment, and I just told you that you're not, because there's all kinds of vegetables, and combinations of foods that give you all the nutrients you could get from grades. So if you're having a problem with them, if you're struggling to balance your blood sugar, if you're struggling to maintain a healthy weight, if you're struggling with insulin resistance, and you want to experiment with removing those, what happens when we take something out of our diet, we've got space for something else. So you can add in so many more vegetables, more carbohydrates, right? But they're a lower carbohydrate content. So you're getting more bang for the buck, you're getting a lot more nutrition with a lot fewer carbohydrates. So if we go back to the legumes, and the beans example, for someone maybe who's following a vegan diet and doesn't eat any animal proteins, and is looking for getting an adequate amount of protein in their diet, you're going to have to consume a tremendous amount of beans to get the same amount of protein you would say, from a serving of chicken or turkey. And so in order to do that, you're going to be consuming a lot of carbohydrates. So when we think about dietary changes, I like to think about it more as what can I add in? Right? What am I going to invite into my life into my diet? Instead of what do I have to get rid of? But I look at it and say, Okay, let me see if my body will feel better if I add more of these things in instead of adding this in. And again, it comes back to how the lifestyle changes requires working with your brain. So we really have to work with our brains to understand our relationship with food. Do you ask ourselves and examine? What do you tell yourself about food? And does that story serve you? Or is there a better story that can serve you better? So if we know one thing we know, we don't want to cancer recurrence, and if we have cancer, we want to help our bodies to heal from it. One thing we know is that one driver of cancer is high blood sugar, and high insulin levels. There's just a couple, right? But there's it's multifactorial, it's very complex, but we're just talking about things we can do and have some control over in these Tuesday train tops. So if it's true, that you could have some control over your insulin sensitivity and your glucose levels, and keeping those low, can have an impact on your body's ability to heal from cancer or stay well or achieve optimal health. Is that worth it to you? Is it worth it to you to experiment with that? Is it worth it to you to kind of dip your toes in that water a little bit and start examining what would a lower carbohydrate diet look like? Even if you have what you believe to be and what are considered healthy carbohydrates, healthy grains, whole grains, right? Because they're higher in fiber, and again, have all the nutrients I just described. But if you're doing that, and your blood sugar is in control, would it be okay to test yourself with that? Would it be okay to experiment and see if you replaced grains with more vegetables? How would your body respond to that? Or if you're ready to go all in get your genetic profile and have that assessment have that looked at and truly like I know that it seems overwhelming when I first got it I when I first got my report, I was like, Whoa, this is so much information. But then as I started to study it, and as I started to get trained in it and understand how to interpret it. I am just fascinated. I'm fascinated by it. Like I'm a genetic, just I don't know I'm a student of genetics. Now. I read about it constantly. Because it's just so fascinating. And of course it's a baby science. I mean, it's just evolving constantly. But as it evolves, we get more and more Our understanding of why we're each so bio individual. And why we have to start with us, rather than start with what someone out there says is good for us. So whether it's this label diet or that label diet, even within the framework of each of those diets, what works well for you. So for me, I have another genetic variant, that if I eat saturated fat, or when I eat saturated fat, I should say, it increases my or I should say, it decreases my glucose sensitivity, I become more resistant to my cells, absorbing glucose and using my blood sugar. So that was another key for me. I was like, Oh, my God. Okay. So I've got to make sure that I'm watching saturated fat intake in my diet and keeping saturated fat intake low, while I'm keeping poly and monounsaturated fats high. And I'm keeping grains completely out. Right? So at first, again, you know, I had to work with that, when you hear those things, I just, okay, I'll just make this change. But understanding why I was making the change and how it would benefit me, made all the difference for me. And I mean, I'm doing great. So obviously, my body is responding well to these changes. So I hope that gives you some things to chew on to think about to mentally chew on to think about when it comes to carbohydrate intake. Because I think that if somebody says you stop eating carbohydrates, don't eat this stuff that you're never gonna listen, we know that we hear that all the time. But when we have an understanding of what it's doing to us, especially if you're suffering, right, especially if you're not feeling well, if you're having gastrointestinal distress, if you're frustrated, because you're struggling with blood sugar levels, or you're struggling with the inability to lose weight. And I'll tell you, since most breast cancer diagnoses happened in women over 50, not all it's getting younger and younger, I was younger, my first diagnosis. But as Laura Lummer 27:04 we age, we become less sensitive to carbohydrates, so more insensitive, so they have a bigger impact on our metabolic health as we age. So if you could eat breads and muffins, and scones and things all day long when you were 30 years old, and they never affected you. And so you have the same eating patterns now at 60. And over, your body has changed. And these foods may definitely be affecting you very differently than they did just because of age, in addition to other lifestyle factors that could have an impact on it. So just some some food for thought, I think a deeper understanding we get of foods and how amazing they are, and how they can work to support us, and how our genes have to interact with them. Like it's really cool to stop and think about and have fun with. Right to just explore. It's kind of exciting. It's like, wow, if somebody told me how my body worked, and then I could make choices based on how my body works, and it would work better. Wouldn't that be awesome? If you would like help with that, you know where to find me, the breast cancer recovery. coach.com is my website. And you can go to coaching and programs where you'll find my metabolic health coaching packages. And those packages include all the things that genetic reports, all the labs, but more importantly, the coaching and interaction to help you wrap your brain around, where to start, how to start, what to incorporate what you're ready for, and what you're thinking about it because that is so important. You can't just give someone a food list and say here, just eat these. It doesn't work like that. And I know it because I've had to deal with it. You know, I've gotten food lists from people and I look at and say yeah, but I don't want that. I want something else and have to work through our thoughts. It's so critically important that we look at the stories we tell ourselves so that we can evolve to this place where we can better support our physical body. All right, so check out those programs, the breast cancer recovery coach.com forward slash health and I'm also available for individual coaching. So you can find that on my website too and just do individual coaching or coaching packages to work on wherever you're at in your life. And of course, there's my all encompassing everything in it, the better than before breast cancer life coaching membership, will you find everything I've ever created inside that membership along with monthly coaching so everything you could ever need to create a life that's better than before breast cancer friend, you can find it on my website, the breast cancer recovery coach.com and I will talk to you again very soon. Take care


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