The Glucose Goddess supplement to reduce blood sugar spikes is going viral. Is it worth trying?

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For individuals with diabetes, maintaining healthy blood sugar levels can be a matter of life and death. But what about the rest of the population?

Countless TikTok videos garnering thousands of views would have you believe a single blood sugar spike can send your mental health plummeting. Multiple startups have recently launched with the goal of getting people without diabetes to track their blood sugar and change their behavior accordingly. Integrative medicine specialist Dr. Taz Bhatia declared blood sugar monitoring a top wellness trend of 2024 on the TODAY show.

And then there’s the Glucose Goddess. Also known as Jessie Inchauspé, the French biochemist has amassed more than 3.3 million Instagram followers, written two bestselling books on hacks and recipes she says can prevent blood sugar spikes, and she recently came out with a supplement called Anti-Spike.

glucose goddess (Iulia Matei)
glucose goddess (Iulia Matei)

The Glucose Goddess and the blood sugar craze

Inchauspé has attracted her following, she tells TODAY.com, because “the world is getting sicker and sicker, and people understand that their health is not where it should be.”

She isn’t saying anything new, she explains. “Many doctors have been talking about blood sugar management for more than 20 years. ... This is a wave that’s been building for a while.” But her goal is to break down glucose-related research into “fun, digestible and easy to understand” graphs and social media posts. “I see myself as a science translator between scientific studies and the general public,” she says.

Some experts in the field are grateful Inchauspé is using her platform to increase awareness of the impact of diet on overall health. “Americans are eating too much processed food and added sugars,” Dr. Sun Kim, an endocrinologist at Stanford University who specializes in treating Type 2 diabetes, tells TODAY.com. “If the Glucose Goddess can help Americans eat less of these foods, then I say great.”

David Sinclair, Ph.D., professor of genetics and a longevity researcher at Harvard Medical School, endorsed Inchauspé’s first book, 2022’s “Glucose Revolution,” as “the best practical guide for managing glucose levels.” (Sinclair blurbed this book and is an adviser to one of the previously mentioned blood sugar monitoring startups.)

But other medical professionals are not as impressed. Inchauspé’s supplements in particular have met backlash online.

“This (Anti-Spike) product has not been clinically tested and has not been proven at all,” Abby Langer, a clinical nutritionist, registered dietitian and founder of Abby Langer Nutrition, tells TODAY.com. “Ethically, I have a problem with somebody selling a supplement to healthy people that they probably do not need.” Anti-Spike costs $65 per bottle or $52 with a monthly subscription.

Inchauspé says all the ingredients have been individually proven as safe and effective with clinical trials, even though they haven’t been tested all together, which she says is standard practice for supplements. “I don’t tell people they need this. It’s just a lot of really powerful extracts for help,” she adds.

But does the average person without diabetes really need to be worried about preventing blood sugar spikes? And how do your blood sugar levels impact your health overall? Is there anything you can do to manage your blood sugar without spending money? TODAY.com spoke with several experts in blood sugar management to find out.

What is glucose?

The first thing to understand is that blood sugar levels impact us all, the experts say.

During digestion, the food we eat is broken down into blood sugar, also known as blood glucose or just glucose. Once glucose enters the bloodstream, it triggers the pancreas to release a hormone called insulin, which helps the body’s cells and organs absorb the glucose to be used for energy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Once the glucose leaves the bloodstream and is absorbed in your cells, insulin normally decreases as well, which signals to the liver to release stored blood sugar so the body can maintain its energy, even if you haven’t eaten recently.

“Just like we need air to survive, our organs need glucose to survive,” Kristina Cooke, a registered dietitian who specializes in diabetes treatment and prevention, tells TODAY.com.

For people without diabetes, the body has many systems in place to naturally regulate blood sugar levels and to keep them in a healthy range — anything below 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), according to the World Health Organization. Your blood sugar level increases for a short time after eating as the digested sugar enters your bloodstream and before insulin helps your cells absorb it.

“This process should not be considered a ‘spike,’” explains Hope Warshaw, registered dietitian, author of “Real-Life Guide to Diabetes” and certified diabetes care and education specialist. “It’s simply a gentle rise in glucose due to digestion.” During this digestive period, blood sugar levels may go as high as 140 mg/dL before they begin to drop again.

“It is normal to see post-meal blood glucose elevations in this range,” echoes Cooke. “This is a sign that the food you are eating is effectively being converted into energy and that your pancreas is doing its job properly.”

For people with diabetes, however, their bodies don’t produce enough insulin to keep their blood sugar in a normal range or they don’t respond to insulin, explains Laura Bellows, Ph.D., a registered dietitian and an associate professor in the division of nutritional sciences at Cornell University. “This means that the glucose stays in the blood, resulting in ... high blood sugar levels,” she tells TODAY.com. To combat this, some people with diabetes take insulin.

The American Diabetes Association estimates that 38.4 million Americans, or 11.6% of the population, have diabetes. Another 98 million — about 1 in 3 — have prediabetes, per the CDC. An estimated 5-10% of people with diabetes have Type 1, and the other 90-95% have preventable Type 2.

Prediabetes is diagnosed when your blood sugar level before eating, aka fasting, is in the range of 100 to 125 mg/dL. When it hits 126 mg/dl or higher on two tests, you’re considered to have diabetes.

How do glucose levels impact your health?

If you don’t have diabetes, eating healthy, balanced meals throughout the day will generally keep your blood glucose in a stable range, says Bellows.

But frequently eating unhealthy and unbalanced meals and snacks can cause your blood sugar to spike above 140 mg/dL or stay elevated for a prolonged period, both of which can impact how you feel and your long-term health.

In the short term, excess glucose levels can lead to dehydration, fatigue and brain fog in people with or without diabetes, Sinclair explains. In the long term, he says, “constant spiking ... causes the body to age faster and may also accelerate a variety of age-related diseases.”

Langer adds that blood sugar swings can cause you to feel hunger pangs more often. Increasing levels of blood sugar as you age may also lead to problems with memory, some research shows.

What’s more, “chronic glucose elevations” can increase one’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, Warshaw says, whereas normal, digestion-related blood sugar spikes do not.

While Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition that cannot be prevented, Type 2 diabetes can. Although you can develop diabetes at any age, Type 2 diabetes most often occurs in middle-aged and elderly adults and is more common in people with a family history of diabetes and people who are overweight or obese, per the National Institutes of Health.

Sinclair says that overeating and subsequent weight gain can cause the body to lose its ability to detect insulin, so sugar stays in the bloodstream.

“This is when people become insulin-resistant,” echoes Bellows. “Insulin resistance will lead to high blood glucose levels, and eventually Type 2 diabetes.”

For people with diabetes, when sugar remains high in the bloodstream for long periods of time, “it can cause damage to the tiny vessels throughout our body, such as those in the eyes, kidney, heart and even our fingers and toes,” says Cooke. “This is when we see some of the long-term complications of diabetes, such as blindness or amputations.” Prolonged high blood sugar in people with diabetes can also lead to heart attack, stroke and death.

“A goal for people with Type 2 diabetes is to try to keep their blood sugar between 70 to 180 mg/dL,” says Kim. Staying in this range can prevent many of the worst outcomes of diabetes, Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist and professor of nutrition and medicine at Tufts University, tells TODAY.com.

Managing glucose with diet and lifestyle first

Diet is the biggest factor for people with or without diabetes in controlling intensity and frequency of blood sugar spikes. “Eating a healthy diet, balanced throughout the day, will help regulate blood glucose levels and avoid large spikes or dips,” says Bellows.

Foods the experts say are associated with high blood sugar or blood sugar spikes include:

Having these foods in moderation or occasionally isn’t the issue. “The issue is having a sustained overload of sugar in your bloodstream for very long periods of time,” says Cooke.

On the other hand, foods associated with healthy blood sugar management, according to Harvard Medical School, include:

  • Beans

  • Most fruits and vegetables

  • Minimally processed grains, such as whole-grain bread, brown rice and bran cereals

  • Low-fat dairy products

  • Nuts

In general, “think savory, not sweet,” advises Inchauspé. One thing that’s made her so popular is her food hacks and recipes that she says can help limit blood sugar spikes and maintain optimal energy levels. For example, she suggests having a veggie starter (such as a handful of carrots or some roasted broccoli) before lunch or dinner, and starting your day with a sugarless breakfast.

“Your diet should always be the first thing that you work on or change,” Inchauspé says.

Getting plenty of fiber in your diet can also slow down the amount of sugar entering your bloodstream, per the CDC, as does balancing meals and snacks with mixed nutrients, such as carbohydrates, protein and fat. “The different rates of digestion for each of these nutrients will help regulate blood glucose levels,” Bellows says.

While “all healthy people will see a rise in blood sugar numbers after consuming food,” explains Cooke, the goal should be to keep levels “within the ‘normal’ post-meal range” of 140 mg/dL or lower. “This might look like eating pasta with some chicken and a side salad, rather than alone.”

Exercising regularly also helps your cells become more receptive to pulling in glucose, she adds.

It’s worth noting that your blood sugar level is only one aspect of your health that’s affected by your diet. “You can eat a lot of things, including very unhealthy foods, that do not cause a blood sugar spike,” Kim says.

For example, “red meat does not increase blood glucose levels,” Mozaffarian points out. But it “can cause inflammation, damage the pancreas and increase risk of diabetes. So, a food that does not raise blood glucose is not always healthy.”

A final word on blood sugar monitoring and the Glucose Goddess supplement

“Obsession over glucose spikes in a person without diabetes is not the answer to health and provides a narrow-minded view of health,” says Kim. “I think sometimes we are overly focused on glucose because we can measure it.”

But she says being aware of how different foods make you feel is important and some people might even find it interesting to try a continuous glucose monitor, normally prescribed to people with diabetes, for a short period of time. “I do believe everyone interested should try a CGM,” she says. “I would bet that most people without diabetes would find that their body is very good at controlling blood sugar.”

Mozaffarian says he’s used one in the past and “found that wearing a CGM for one to two weeks can provide useful information about how different foods affect my blood glucose levels.”

As for taking a dietary supplement to manage blood glucose levels, the experts warn that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not approve supplements before they reach the consumer (which it does with drugs) and that there are more effective and affordable ways of managing blood sugar levels.

“There is no magic pill to optimal health,” says Bellows. “Any supplement that claims to reduce spikes is not considering the complexities of metabolism, lifestyle factors like diet and exercise, and variations across individuals.”

Adds Cooke: “Supplements will make the least amount of impact on blood sugar levels compared to nutrition and lifestyle strategies.”

Inchauspé clarifies that her supplement is not “some sort of drug level thing. ... It’s really just a standard plant-based supplement.” She and the other experts agree that Anti-Spike doesn’t replace a good diet, though of course Inchauspé thinks it’s still worth trying: “For me, it’s a no brainer. ... It’s just extra help.”

Keeping weight under control, eating a well-balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise remain the most proven ways to avoid diseases like Type 2 diabetes and keep the lethargy and brain fog associated with frequent blood sugar spikes at bay, the experts say.

Bellows says it’s also important to get plenty of sleep and to keep stress levels down, as both can also help you keep your blood sugar in a healthy range.

“The science suggests if you want to live your maximum potential lifespan in a healthy way,” Sinclair explains, “then minimizing sugar consumption, eating fresh vegetables, avoiding overeating and exercising aerobically a few times a week are some of the best lifestyle changes one can make.”

This article was originally published on TODAY.com