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Dr. Taz: Welcome back, everyone. Welcome back to another episode of Super Woman Wellness where we’re determined to bring you back to your superpower self. And joining me all the way from Chile is a lovely chef. I have Chef Matt here, who has quite the story of how to get us all to balance our blood sugars. I’m going to let him talk a little bit more about his background, but he is from the South of France. One of the things he’s realized is that the French may do a better job of managing their blood sugar compared to us, Americans, or many people around the world. As a chef and a chemical engineer, he seems to have figured out the secret. Chef Matt, welcome to the show. I am thrilled to have you here. I don’t even know what time it is in Chile right now. What time is it there?
Mathieu: Thank you. Thank you very much for having me, and I’m very delighted to be here. Now in Chile is 20 to 8:00 PM.
Dr. Taz: Okay, got you.
Mathieu: It’s a bit later from where you are.
Dr. Taz: Okay, good. At least I’m not waking you up at like two in the morning to do the show because that has happened before.
Mathieu: There’s still some light here.
Dr. Taz: Okay, lovely. Well, talk to us about your journey into trying to understand blood sugar and glucose, why you even think it’s important, and then how did you marry your chemical engineering with being a chef. To me, that’s fascinating. I get it, because I used to love chemistry and now I love cooking and food and stuff like that. But somebody else out there might be like, what? Circle us in.
Mathieu: What’s the strange mix behind it? As you mentioned, I’m French. I was born in the south of France, raised in the family vineyard in the south of France, close to Bordeaux. Very, I will say, culinary awakening over there. Although my family was working in the wine industry, I moved to a little bit more of an engineer and a more square study. So I studied chemical engineering, learned lots of context around the way the thing works and the way the body works because at the end all the chemistry inside our body is also related to chemistry science. So I was not really focused on health a lot at the beginning of my career. So I moved into a very conventional career, I would say, working as a chemical engineer in different companies. And over the time I’ve seen my health not going so well.
Dr. Taz: Interesting.
Mathieu: And I remember, at that time I was working in the south of Argentina for a big company and I was working a lot, lots of responsibility, a lot of stress, not looking too much about what I was eating, focusing on other priorities. And I remember a medical testing that the company was running annually for all the people that were working there. And the doctor at that time was working for me, I was in charge of that area, called me and said, “You know, boss, it’s not going very well.” So that was really the awakening call for me. I was really very passionate about food but somehow with my professional career I lost a little bit of my, I would say the direction that the French have. And I’ve started living the crazy life of busy people with lots of responsibility and that started to affect my health.
So since that moment I made a very significant shift, studying what was going on with my body. So right at the beginning to work out a lot because I think I would say the common response that everybody starts with, “I’m not feeling well? Okay, working out.” And then I figured out that if I was not eating well that was not going to help my health. So I start moving the needle a little bit in the kitchen, start eating and start studying. It’s where I discovered, I would say, the importance of blood glucose and monitoring the blood glucose and understanding what is behind the food that we are eating and how the body responds to the food that we are eating. And then starting tweaking progressively the way I was eating to correct my glucose management, I would say, and start seeing all my indicators going much better.
Dr. Taz: To me that’s so interesting. So first let’s break down, when you’re in a stressful lifestyle and trying to work out really hard, what were you dealing with? Were you overweight? Were your blood markers high? Was cholesterol high? What was happening there?
Mathieu: It was lots of blood markers that were high.
Dr. Taz: Okay.
Mathieu: Blood sugar. It was urea, it was high pressure, lots of different aspects that don’t necessarily relate it to glucose. But then when you unpack that information with a little bit of science background, you figure out that if you start controlling or managing better your glucose, you see all those indicators start flowing in the right direction.
Dr. Taz: In the right direction, right.
Mathieu: All the time. Obviously it’s not one day after another, but mitigating all those spikes, those little spikes and I started eating a little bit more conscious about the way that your body responds and how to avoid spikes or limit the amount of spikes that you have, really make a big difference on your blood markers. Obviously blood sugar, but others too.
Dr. Taz: Blood sugar for sure. And probably cholesterol, I’m guessing your cholesterol might be involved in that to a certain extent. A1C, all of those things, right?
Mathieu: All of that. Exactly.
Dr. Taz: Yeah. And the weight, we call that, for any of you watching or listening, that’s the metabolic soup, right? Like A1C, blood glucose, fasting insulin, cholesterol, blood pressure, weight, that’s your metabolic, a quick gauge of your metabolic, sort of where you stand metabolically. And if those numbers are starting to go awry, then we know your metabolism is definitely getting impacted. But what I find so interesting is that you had the response that so many people have, right? My markers are off, I’m going to work out harder. A lot of women respond with I’m going to work out harder, I’m going to starve. But that didn’t work out. Correct? What did working out harder do?
Mathieu: Exactly. So I start with that common response that everybody is having. And today that I’m on the other side of, I would say, the desk, I see lots of people having that response and not solving anything. So people start working out very hard and then you create more stress if you don’t feed properly, you create a deficit and then you nearly increase the problem. And especially if you move into a low calorie diet at the same moment, it’s the recipe for disaster.
Dr. Taz: Yeah, totally.
Mathieu: Because we try to limit calories where I think we, as a society, clearly have a very strong mistaken belief that limiting calories is going to solve that problem or glucose, overweight. And that creates lots of problems because when you limit the amount of food that you eat and you starve your body, you create another kind of problem because, or you’re not solving the problem that you’re trying to resolve. So seeing that after several months, working out very hard and starving myself sometime, because it’s also very hard to maintain a starvation diet. So you can really do it for a couple of days, weeks, months if you’re really very strong. But then you break and you rebound. So maybe you can improve a little bit. I mean short-term improvement, but then you rebound and it’s worse than ever.
Dr. Taz: And that’s what we see over and over, at least with my patients. That’s what I see. I’m sure you see it with people that you work with. So what are we doing wrong and why do Europeans and maybe the French have this down better, what’s going on?
Mathieu: So maybe to answer the question, what are we doing wrong, is maybe thinking about calorie and thinking that the food is only calorie, that means an amount of energy that we are putting into our body. It’s just a very, very important mistake because food is, more than anything else, information for our body and our body responding to that information. So when you figure that out, then you start understanding that it’s not the same thing to eat a certain amount of calorie under a certain diet and the same amount of calorie under other diets. And what I would say is what the French are doing is a little bit different, and that’s shown up in the stat, we’ll say that the public health stat, I mean we have around 7% of pre-diabetes in France, 6% of diabetes in the US. A third of the population has pre-diabetes, I mean that’s nearly 100 million people with prediabetes.
Dr. Taz: Go USA.
Mathieu: I’m not saying that in a way to, I would say, the lifestyle of the decision of the country. However, one thing that is very clear is the way that the French relate to food is very different to the way that the US people or the Americans, I mean to generalize, are relating to food. And if you look at what the French people are eating, it’s very, very close to nature, much closer to nature from what we eat in the US. So you see where the ingredients come from and the way they are processed or unprocessed or the amount of processed food that is in the average French diet, it’s very low. So people create their meals from raw, non-processed ingredients instead of having a very ultra processed amount of food on their plate. And that creates a huge difference because then you have less ultra processed carbs, you have less fillers, less chemicals, and that really impacts your body or impacts less your body and creates for you a better glucose response to the food that you are eating. So I would say that that’s the first thing.
Dr. Taz: Interesting.
Mathieu: And the second thing is, and it’s a little bit, I would say, it has been taken by several movies around French people. One thing about the French lifestyle is that there is a certain amount of movement in the day of a French person. Why? Because maybe the way that the cities are structured make people walk more. So it’s not that the French people go to the gym, they generally don’t. I mean a big portion of the French go to the gym, but on average I would say fewer people are going to the gym than in the US, definitely. But the amount of walking is much higher and that’s little extra movement that people are making, especially working, which is a very positive activity, improving very significantly the way that your body is dealing with glucose management. Especially if you’re walking after breakfast or if you’re walking after lunch to go back to the office or if you’re walking back to your house. So if you had those extra steps in a day, that improves significantly the way that your body is managing the glucose.
And finally, the third reason I want to mention around what the French people are doing is when you look at the plates of what people are eating in France, on top of what I already said that is generally less processed, is also less loaded with carbs. So an average French-
Dr. Taz: But what about the bread and the cheese and the wine and all that?
Mathieu: It’s much more loaded in fats. A very significant portion of the French eat in terms of calorie come from fat, like saturated fat like cheese, milk, cream, butter, olive oil. So that uses a significant portion of the diet of the French. Then protein because all the meals in the French diet are protein centers. So you start thinking when a French person thinks about what we are going to eat, it is to start thinking first about protein. What kind of protein source we are going to have. And then packed around that side dish that generally are, I would say, I said generally because obviously you’ll see a French person eating sometimes french fries or spaghetti, but in general is non-starchy veggies that have been prepared with extra fat eggs, cheese cream.
So that plate in average, I would say contained much less carbs than an average American plate, I would say. That creates a huge difference because if you eat less carbs, then you have less glucose spikes or fewer glucose spikes because you have more protein, more fat. So that decreases your response to eventually the amount of carbs including the bread that you are eating. And then I can talk about the bread and that limitation of the amount of glucose spike that meal practice creates at the end day by day, year after year, much less metallic issues.
Dr. Taz: And the French will eat late too. They eat late at night, they’re not necessarily eating early in the evening.
Mathieu: Yes, but not too, too, yeah later, I would say that the general practice in the US, but I would say an average French person will eat between seven, 8:00 PM dinner.
Dr. Taz: And then how many glasses of wine per night is the average French person having?
Mathieu: Well on average, and I investigate all those very interesting statistics for my book that I think we’ll talk about a bit later, but on average the French have three glasses of wine per week.
Dr. Taz: Per week?
Mathieu: Per week on average. Obviously. I mean I’m sure that.
Dr. Taz: We’re like a drunk country. Do you know how many people come to me and oh I have my two to three glasses of wine a night. Or they’re at 14 drinks a week, you’re saying three a week?
Mathieu: That’s the average. It’s generally wine, it’s not cocktails which have high sugar content, it’s not liquors which generally go with extra sugary beverages that also increase the problem. And obviously it’s an average. So obviously I guess that a big portion of the people are having significantly more than that and a portion is significantly less than that. But at the end the French have wines but not, I mean not a massive amount of wine.
Dr. Taz: Interesting.
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And then what have you seen, because I know you talk a little bit about glucose monitors and tracking glucose, which I’m a huge believer in, in fact I’m trying to get my own personal deck. I’ve used the Freestyle Libre, which is the one that goes in the arm. Yeah, that was super interesting. What I learned, I’ve shared that before in the podcast, what I learned with that, which was crazy, but on vacation, even though I’m eating everything I don’t normally eat and whatever else I’m doing, my blood sugars were lower than they are here in the country where I’m stressed out and doing 50 things at one time. So that was my big lesson with that.
Mathieu: So on that, I used to wear a CGM also. So when I start structuring all the glucose shaft and all the, I would say, the offering and the program, I mean using that French lifestyle to help people moving out a little bit of ultra process, ultra stress and use or inspire themselves from the French lifestyle to bring some hacks and secret in their life to decrease or to improve their glucose management. So I wear CGM for four or five months and in those four or five months I travel to France because I’m living in Chile in South America. So I have, obviously I’m French so I’m living pretty much like a French, however I’m outside of France. So I also see the difference when I’m here and when I’m in France. So I was wearing a CGM while I was in France and I was generally, I mean living normally , taking care of myself when I’m eating.
So I’m eating pretty much unprocessed, pretty much to the thing that I recommend to the person I work with. So pretty much low carb, lots of veggies, non-starchy veggies, significant amounts of protein and healthy fats. But going to France indicated, so moving out a little bit about that, I would say, clean diet because I was eating bread, I was eating the apple tart my mother was making, I was eating pastry sometimes walking back from the farmer’s market and it was crazy. My glucose, I mean, was not stable but obviously if you eat a pastry with sugar it will spike, but it was spiking significantly lower than what I was experiencing here.
Coming back and unpacking all the information, I look into the details and find out also, so stress, rest, stress is a big driver. The way your body responds to glucose. So if you stress all the responses that you will get, it must be much higher than what you have if you’re not stressed. Then if you rest better, if you were on vacation, I was on vacation too, I was sleeping very well. And that improved significantly. The way you respond to stress and then improve your glucose management. Then I was working a lot because I had no car in France, I was walking to the farmer market, I was going to the beach, I was walking over there. So that extra walking was helping significantly on managing my glucose. And the final thing is what I was eating, including the carbs, was much less processed from what I was eating here in Chile or over there in the United States. So the quality of ingredients make a huge difference in the way that our body is responding to this ingredient.
So in going back to your question about the bread, there is something very interesting about the bread because you can, so as I was wearing the CGM, I could try different types of bread. So if you have very industrial ultra processed bread, you see your glucose going crazy after, especially if you eat only the bread. I ate only the bread to test it and my glucose was crazy. And then you move into higher quality bread up to sourdough bread, making at home with slow fermentation with high quality flour, that was completely different, much, much lower. And what I figure out is in France, I mean there’s a very, very strong regulation around the bread that obliged and forced the baker to make quality bread with certain quality of flour and certain amount of time of fermentation that’s also increased the way that the bread is, I would say, more friendly without metabolism.
Dr. Taz: Interesting.
Mathieu: And that’s created a very, very big difference I think for the French people as a whole because you are right, we are eating a significant amount of bread because on average a French person is eating around 200 grams, 250 grams per day.
Dr. Taz: Wow.
Mathieu: Yeah. And that’s the main source of carbs.
Dr. Taz: So the requirement for making bread is legislated by the government or recommended by the government?
Dr. Taz: It’s legislated. Wow.
Mathieu: It’s regulated, the quality of flour and the way that the bread is made to limits and to protect the public health against the very, very industrial bread.
Dr. Taz: They’re not getting any flour from the US. The US is not supplying flour?
Mathieu: I don’t think so.
Dr. Taz: Interesting. Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness. What about wine though? US wines versus French wines? I’ve heard a lot of debate there. Is it doing something to blood sugar as well or not necessarily?
Mathieu: I mean wine and alcohol is interesting in terms of blood glucose or when you test, I mean it can depend if you are pre-diabetic, diabetic or healthy person. But I mean on average what alcohol is doing and especially if you’re having wine, it’s delayed, I mean, it’s put on hold way that your liver is working. So the liver will focus on removing this toxin. Alcohol is toxic for the body. So the liver will focus on removing that toxin from your body and not producing the glucose to feed you, to your blood. So what you see generally when you’re having some wine, you see after, so generally if you have wine with the meal after the spike or non spike of the meal, you see generally that you can enter hypoglycemia because the alcohol stops your gluconeogenesis of the liver. So then you are in a situation where you enter hypoglycemia.
So one interpretation I’m making as a chemical engineer is when you’re having some wine with a meal that has some carbs that delay the spike that you may have if you’re not consuming wine. And it’s one, I mean there’s a couple of scientific studies around the impact of wine and alcohol consumed during a reasonable amount of wine and alcohol consumed during your meals. And they on average see that that limited consumption of alcohol is improving your blood glucose response after those meals. And the studies say that it’s the explanation of the French paradox of how come the French can be healthy eating all that delicious fatty food and wine. So it delayed the spike and it slowed down the spike.
The problem with people that already have issues with their blood glucose management is it’s sometimes very difficult to manage that IPO that comes at night or after you have a meal with alcohol. So you have to be very cautious when you are pre-diabetic or diabetic around alcohol consumption because that IPO that can disregulate completely the way that your body is managing glucose on top of that’s, and what I see with the people I’m working, the people I’m working generally I incentivize them. It’s not mandatory, but I incentivize them to use a CGM for certain period of time so they can-
Dr. Taz: See it. Yeah.
Mathieu: See exactly the data of how glucose is affected with the diet that you are eating. So I make an awareness period where we say, okay, do exactly what you’re doing usually, eat what you eat generally, but with the CGM and we’ll see how your glucose is responding to your current diet or to your current lifestyle. And then we start from there and move and tweak their lifestyle to improve the glucose management. And what I see when they consume alcohol is a nightmare for them the day after that. And for some people the two days after they had alcohol because the body is really district related by that alcohol consumption and they have lots of trouble restabilizing their glucose after that consumption.
Dr. Taz: Interesting. Goodness gracious. So it does explain for many of my patients, for example, that drinking a lot of wine or alcohol at night and they have seen on their blood sugar monitors, their blood sugar go down. But I think what’s happening is they’re having a spike later. And that later spike is presenting like hot flashes, night sweats, waking up in the middle of the night, all that other stuff. So they’re having that issue there. It’s so interesting that you talk about processed foods because we have such a problem with that in America and now I think it’s becoming global. How much regulation does the French government have around the availability of ultra processed foods, even in a fast food joint like a McDonald’s or a place like that?
Mathieu: I would say, so obviously it will depend on what product exactly we are talking about. So I would say that, and on the stats, if you look about, I generally say that the French are free from pre-diabetes, which is not exactly true because we do have pre-diabetes or diabetes, however with the rate which is much lower than the US. But if you look at the trend that that percentage is growing very, very quickly including in France and why that? Because processed food is penetrating society.
And if you look about the age of the people that are developing those metabolic disease, you see all the young people that drink soda, eat fast food and I would say, I mean regulation will avoid that, maybe some chemicals or some fillers or I would say some colors are prohibited in France and in the rest of Europe that are used in the United States. So those won’t make the cut to be in France. However, you see all the young people that do have a, I would say American lifestyle, going to fast food, soft drinks and you see the rate of pre-diabetes and diabetes and the metabolic disease increasing in a very, very fast space.
Dr. Taz: Wow, wow, wow. The more we dig into this, we’re understanding it is all about blood sugar, blood sugar regulation, what does spike it, what does not spike it, that type of thing. So that’s definitely an issue. Well you have a book coming out, so talk to us about the book because it dives into this and hopefully helps us with maybe making, living in a place like America around the world, how do we make this a reality when we’re prepping our meals? If you go to a restaurant or if you do things, what are the things we can do to control what’s happening here? I know I’m all about wearing a glucose monitor. I’ve prescribed them for tons of patients, even for myself because that’s a great educational tool for sure. But tell us about your book and how it can help us.
Mathieu: Okay, great. So for everything that we discussed, people can think, but I’m not living in France, what can I do? And that’s a legitimate question. So what I’ve done over the last years is observe what the French are doing on the daily basis that make a difference in terms of glucose management, from food, to the way we move, to stress management and including to some maybe a little more esoteric aspect like cultural life, all the different aspect of the culture on which the French are living. And I extract 40 hacks from the French lifestyle and explain it in the book and explain how you can use it indefinitely if you’re living in France or not. How you can use it and implement it in your daily lifestyle to make a difference slowly but surely to your blood glucose management.
The way that the French relate to food, I took lot about pleasure around eating, the way our brain is working, the way that eating slowly and enjoying delicious and tasty food make a huge difference. And that’s a very important part of French culture, especially the gastronomy culture because we are already food focused. We think all the time about what we are going to eat and what we are going to prepare. But at the end what we get on the plates, all that expectation and energy that’s been put in the plates create stuff that, I mean food that is very enjoyable and that makes great difference the way our brain is perceiving the food. So that creates early association in comparison if you are eating something which is much more bland, for example.
So I talk about pleasure, I talk about sourcing food to explain the way that the French source ingredients and how you can independently where you source food that are more close or closer to nature or less processed because you can find it everywhere in the world. I just have to look for it. And the way the French are moving. Anyway, 40 different hacks that really people can extract and use in their lifestyle. And the book is combined with a workbook. So the book is the 40 hacks and then you can download a workbook which guide you for a week of, how can I live like a French, eat like a French with meal plan recipes, some activity that are recommended like walking after dinner, walking after lunch and doing some pleasant activity to decrease the amount of stress and trying to move you into that Frenchy lifestyle, I would say. That’s at the end, if you wear CGM it will guarantee you to improve your glucose management.
Dr. Taz: Got you. I love it. And that book is being released in the next few weeks, right?
Mathieu: Exactly. The book was released mid-December on Amazon. It will be available and it will be an ebook. It is the first edition. We’ll do an ebook, which is the spreading of the book and the workbook will be done on the webpage.
Dr. Taz: Okay, wonderful. Such fascinating information. I love it. I think it’s so interesting how we get caught up in fads like exercise plans and diet plans and all these different theories really do come down to blood sugar and blood sugar management for our ultimate health because that’s not just connected to metabolism, it’s also connected to inflammation. And those are the two things that really are a threat for sure. So I love this discussion. It’s fascinating. If people want to reach out to you, what’s the best way for them to do so?
Mathieu: If people want to learn more, I really encourage them to go to my Instagram. Instagram is the main, I would say @the_glucose_chef, I publish everything that I’m doing. So my Instagram is @the_glucose_chef, and then there is the access to everything I do. So I have a free ebook that is downloadable directly from Instagram and obviously I will be talking about the book, the release of the book mid-December. I also have a free masterclass people can take and learn first pass around how the French are living.
Dr. Taz: Yeah, yeah, love it.
Mathieu: And how to use it in daily lifestyle.
Dr. Taz: Fantastic. Oh my gosh, thank you so much. I enjoyed this conversation. Now I have a window into what the French are doing. Sounds like we need to restructure our city, redo our farmlands, redo our legislation and government and wear monitors to get our glucose levels straight. No, I’m just kidding.
Mathieu: I think a great start is using a CGM and start shifting progressively the way we are eating. That’ll make a huge difference. And then tweaking from there. Because food is, I would say, 80% and then tweaking the rest, stress, rest.
Dr. Taz: And I think the importance too, again, I learned that lesson, but just thinking about a lot of my patients and clients and people that I meet, stress is a big one. So rushing in, being starved, like hurrying up and eating really fast because you’re starving and then not feeling full so you go back for more. And then starting that all again. There’s a lot in our culture and behavior that I think we have to force change individually before it can become systemic for sure. So anyhow, this is fascinating. I love it. I absolutely love it. Were you going to say something else?
Mathieu: Yes, I was going to say that there are many different behaviors that we don’t necessarily know that have an impact on our body. So for example, eating fast, maybe people don’t know that if I’m eating fast I’m going to eat more because my body is not perceiving the food I’m eating. And then once you know it, you unconsciously start acting on it. And that’s the very powerful aspect of the CGM because, if you’re only monitoring but not doing anything at the end, you will be doing something to improve your numbers.
Dr. Taz: Yeah, fascinating.
Mathieu: In the reading, that provokes action.
Dr. Taz: Totally. And I agree with that. I mean I think it’s such a great way for you to get real-time data on how your life and the living of your life is playing out in terms of your health. And I think it’s such a great tool. So if you guys can get one, I would definitely recommend getting one. So they usually have to be prescribed or you can pay out of pocket, but they’re worth the investment for sure. Well Chef Matt, thank you so much for taking time out today to join us from Chile. I love it. I feel like we went from Chile to France to America and talked about health, it’s a universal language. So thank you again for that.
Mathieu: Thank you.
Dr. Taz: Of course. And then for the rest of you watching or listening to this episode of the podcast, thank you so much for joining. Don’t forget you can rate and review it and share it with your friends. I’ll see you guys next time.