sweet potato insulin spike?

by 8753 · April 17, 2011 2:31 AM

Sweet potatoes aren't something we find here in Colombia so when I figured out I could buy them from the Peruvian restaurant, I got a bag full.

I haven't eaten any root veggies since going primal 3 months ago so when I made one as a treat and ate half, I was surprised how awful I felt about an hour or two afterwords. I just chalked it up to eating something too heavy.

Last night I made another, ate half and again within an hour or two started feeling awful. I started feeling heaviness in my stomach, there was some digestive noises, some shaking withing my hands was felt (like I'd loaded up on caffeine) then the nausea hit. This lasted about half an hour.

Then a cold shiver started and last for probably 10-15 minutes. I finally warmed back up and feel asleep (was already in a warm bed).

Insulin spike or coming off an insulin spike???? Could it be that a sweet potato has too much natural sugar or creates too much insulin in my blood??

note: I'd actually never eaten a sweet potato before before buying them. I also do not eat any sugar or artificial sweeteners. I generally have low blood pressure, and primal has helped me feel better in general, I always know when its very low because I feel lethargic...haven't felt that way in months nor did I feel that way last night....

just curious if theres some other possibility (allergic?-I just did tests, results next week but I suspect this wont be on the list since its not a local food here) insulin sensitive? hypertensive? diabetic? crazy? :)

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9 Replies

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22684 · April 15, 2011 2:35 PM

some people definitely react to sweet potatoes, have you tried a standard potato to see if you get the same reaction?

I believe Melissa-HGL said that her and Masterjohn had poor reactions to Sweet Potatoes, yet did fine with standard potatoes.

Either way, that would allow you to determine whether its Insulin/Starch that you are reacting to, or something specific in the Sweet potato.

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55320 · April 15, 2011 2:45 PM

It's totally weird how I react to them. In small amounts as a garnish or something, I'm OK. But if I try to make a meal out of them I feel kind of weird...hungry and irritable afterwards. I'm hoping to get a blood sugar meter and see if that is the problem, but it also could be an allergy. It's silly that people think sweet potatoes are better than normal potatoes. White potatoes have simply been studied better because they are a more important first world staple crop, so more potentially problematic compounds have been identified, though there has never been a study in humans showing potatoes are harmful.

Further, all root vegetables are rather diverse. While orange sweet potatoes give me issues, I have no problem with purple sweet potatoes.

966 · April 15, 2011 5:03 PM

Some things to try out:

  1. Peel the skin. The skin is assumed to hold most of the anti-nutrients.

  2. Use a pressure cooker to cook it. The higher temperature of a pressure cooker is better for deactivating lectins.

  3. Try to find a different source of sweet potato or other varieties.

447 · April 16, 2011 at 10:23 PM

Hi Kelly,

This is an excerpt from an article I found about healing your adrenal glands on high-carb Paleo. This might be your case too,not the gland issue,but the high blood sugar since you mentioned you didn't eat sweet potato before.

"If you haven’t eaten significant carbohydrate for quite a while, you’ll likely feel the effects of high blood sugar the first few times you eat carbs. Oral glucose tolerance tests on individuals consuming low carb diets normally show a high blood glucose level after administration of carbohydrates. This makes sense, as the body is somewhat insulin resistant to spare whatever little glucose was being consumed. After a week of eating carbs, though, you normally find that the test will show low blood glucose levels."

1045 · April 16, 2011 2:58 PM

I would not necessarily fear insulin going up. You are an omnivore, and when you eat carbs the insulin needs to go up so that you can use them to energy.... it is not as if having insulin change over time is some big un-natural event.

One other thing it could be is more fiber than you are typically used to. If you were not going big on resistant starch previously your body might not be all that adapted to it (kind of like how vegans eventually stop getting gas from beans....).

Having a different reaction to purple vs. orange sweet potato is a bit of a surprise. The purple color is an indication of the anthocyanins (which also colors blue berries). The orange is beta-carotene. My understanding is that the full purple ones are just high antioxidant/beta-carotene, but not really all that different otherwise.

4983 · April 16, 2011 9:52 AM

I think you should listen to the messages your baody is giving you. If it's making you feel bad surely that's the greatest indicator you shouldn't eat it. Incidentally I'm the opposite, I'm absolutley fine with sweet potatoes (the varieties I have tried) but white potatoes cause me all sorts of digestive problems. That's a bummer though. Sweet potatoes are lush!

505 · April 15, 2011 5:34 PM

Hi Kelly,

I love to eat sweet potatoes mashed with butter. Yet I feel that they are something not to be eaten often. Whenever I eat a good portion of sweet potatoes I definitely don't think it makes my digestive system very good.

Maybe I'll listen to Michael and not eat the skin next time and see what effects it has on me. Basically per 100g of sweet potatoes will give you 20g of carbs, so if your goal is to eat 100g of carbs per day you could theoretically get a generous helping of 500g of sweet potato without any other fruit or vegetable, so you can get round the whole bit about it being starchy and so on.

I think it may be best to eat in moderation, but if its causing you problems then its your body telling you to stop; technically speaking most Paleo advocates don't recommend eating it often unless you are very active or just on occasions etc. However, I think its all about finding what works for you.

Carbs do make you feel lethargic and sweet potatoes are a starchy tuber so yes it is a possibility they could make you feel lethargic.

You mention "diabetic" as well. Personally, one sweet potato is not going to make you diabetic as I assume your diet is pretty low in carbohydrate. I have heard that sweet potato is kind to diabetics from a low carb website so there may be some truth in that. Furthermore, in Art de Vany's book, he said pasta and bread made his wife's insulin levels skyrocket. No mention of sweet potatoes though.

Another thought is that you say you've never eaten sweet potato before. Maybe this was a little shock to the system - remember grains is unkind to us in the neolithic era. I think after going primal, I'm a lot more sensitive to sugar.

I'm not trying to advertise anything here, but I wrote an article on my blog about sweet potatoes so if you want to take a look feel free.

I hope my rambling has helped in some form or another.

77338 · April 17, 2011 2:31 AM

"I started feeling heaviness in my stomach, there was some digestive noises" - sometimes i also feel bad after eating sweet potatoes, but i presume it has nothing to do with either blood glucose or insulin (i can eat half a kilo of muscovado sugar [when fall off the vagon] and experience no apparent ill effects): : :

: : : eating sweet potatoes leaves a heavy, nauseous, somewhat sour and acidic sensation in stomach - so i guess, it contains something that some people cannot digest easily...

1746 · April 16, 2011 9:13 AM

Sounds like they just don't agree with you. Nothing says you have to eat starch. Chalk it up to experience and see if you can sell the rest to someone else.

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