Natural Alternatives to Ozempic: Boosting GLP-1 with Food

by Ella

Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) agonists, such as Ozempic, Mounjaro, and Wegovy, are well-known for their ability to improve metabolic health and promote weight loss. These medications mimic the action of GLP-1, an endogenous hormone produced by the gut’s L-cells, which is released upon eating. GLP-1 increases insulin levels, reduces liver sugar production, slows digestion, and curbs appetite.

However, what many may not know is that certain foods can naturally increase your body’s GLP-1 levels at a fraction of the cost of these medications. Additionally, GLP-1 medications often require long-term use to maintain weight loss and can cause significant side effects, including nausea, diarrhea, and muscle loss.


Here are four ways to naturally boost GLP-1 through food, avoiding the side effects associated with medications like Ozempic.


1. Increase Intake of Soluble Fiber

Soluble fiber dissolves in water, forming a gel-like substance in your gut that is not absorbed. As it passes into the colon, it is fermented by gut bacteria, producing short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) such as butyrate, which stimulate GLP-1 production. Foods rich in soluble fiber include oats (whole or steel-cut), beans and legumes (such as black beans and chickpeas), fruits (like apricots, oranges, and mangos), and vegetables (such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts). Soluble fiber also lowers heart disease risk, reduces cholesterol, and improves blood sugar control.


2. Eat More Lean Protein, Preferably Plant-Based

Protein is the most satiating macronutrient, partly due to its effects on GLP-1. Protein breakdown products stimulate GLP-1 by binding to calcium-sensing receptors on the gut’s L-cells. Excellent plant-based protein sources include beans, edamame, lentils, nuts, and seeds. Animal sources include eggs, chicken, fish, and beef. Dr. Michael Greger, author of How Not To Diet, advocates for plant-based proteins as they are associated with a lower cancer risk compared to animal-based proteins. Adults should consume about 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight daily, with higher intake recommended during weight loss.


3. Consume More Healthy Fats

Healthy fats, particularly monounsaturated fats (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fats (PUFA), are potent stimulators of GLP-1. Good MUFA sources include olive oil and avocados, while PUFA-rich foods include fatty fish (such as salmon), walnuts, and tofu. Studies show a higher GLP-1 response following meals containing olive oil compared to butter, which is high in less healthy saturated fats. Healthy fats also lower heart disease risk, improve cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and support gut health.

4. Favor Polyphenol-Rich Foods

Polyphenols can increase GLP-1 either by directly causing L-cells to secrete more or indirectly through gut bacteria. Foods high in polyphenols include spinach, green tea, apples, celery, asparagus, and berries. Polyphenols also improve lipid profiles, reduce blood pressure, and lower insulin resistance and inflammation.

Incorporating more GLP-1 boosting foods into your diet can simulate the effects of Ozempic, though these foods may not work as quickly. However, they can contribute to more sustainable weight loss and glucose control if made a regular part of your diet. Additionally, these foods can displace unhealthy options, such as ultra-processed foods like cookies, cakes, and salty snacks, which are known to shorten lifespan.

The “food as medicine” movement is gaining momentum, especially important as 90% of Americans fall short of government dietary guidelines for fruit and vegetable consumption. Many chronic diseases, including hypertension, diabetes, and lipid disorders, are linked to the Standard American Diet (SAD) and can often be mitigated by adopting a diet rich in GLP-1 boosting foods.



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