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  GLP-1 agonist medications versus increasing GLP-1 naturally

Unlocking the Power of GLP-1 &  Suppressing Appetite Naturally

by Heidi Jensen, MS, RDN, LD, Sage Bariatric Institute

Ozempic, Saxenda, Mounjaro, Wegovy… These drug names are becoming everyday household terms, and for good reason.  They are some of the trade names of drugs known as GLP-1 Agonists that have proven to be very helpful with blood sugar control and weight loss in patients who are also committed to exercising and eating a healthful diet.

But these drugs can be hard to find due to production shortages, and they are very expensive, which makes them not an option for most Americans.  This article will address how these drugs work and how can we try to achieve some of these effects without them.

What is GLP-1?       

GLP-1 is short for glucagon like peptide 1.  It is a naturally occurring hormone that is produced in the gut.  GLP-1 is released when food enters the stomach.  It signals the pancreas to release insulin, which transports glucose into the cells for energy.  It also blocks the release of glucagon, which is a hormone in your body that raises blood glucose levels. These effects result in normalization of glucose levels.

GLP-1 also increases the feeling of being full or satiated after eating.  It slows the rate that food leaves the stomach, which allows you to feel full sooner and for a longer period of time.  It also affects part of your brain that tells you when you are hungry and when you are satisfied. This helps decrease appetite and food intake, which often results in weight loss.

GLP-1 also improves mucosal integrity of the gut and decreases the production of certain substances secreted by the immune system that cause inflammation. It is being studied for use in diseases such as ulcerative colitis.

How do GLP-1 Agonists work?

GLP-1 Agonists work by mimicking naturally occurring GLP-1 in the body. So your body thinks there is more GLP-1 than there is, and it thus does the same thing it would do if there were more GLP-1: It releases insulin, blocks glucagon secretion, slows stomach emptying, and increases the sense of fullness after eating.

Can we increase GLP-1 naturally? 

The difficulty in accessing and affording the GLP-1 Agonist medications is a problem that is not likely to disappear any time very soon, but there is good news. Whether you are looking to improve gut health, improve results and tolerance to a GLP-1 agonist medication, lose weight or have better glucose control, there ARE ways in which you can increase GLP-1 naturally.



The digestive by-products, peptides, & amino acids from the food you consume stimulate GLP-1 producing cells in the intestines. All solid dense protein will provide enhanced fullness and better blood sugar control compared to protein supplements.



Fermentable fibers are carbohydrates that contain non-digestible soluble and resistant starch fibers.  Studies show these soluble fibers and resistant starch fibers increase short chain fatty acids (SCFAs).  The more SCFAs you produce, the more GLP-1 is released.   A goal is 6 grams per meal. Pairing with high pre/probiotic rich food (kimchi, sauerkraut) is where the magic happens.

Examples include:   beans, lentils, berries, apples, chia and flaxseed, onion, asparagus, artichokes, jicama, potato



Phytochemicals are naturally occurring compounds in plants such as flavonoids, catechins, tannins that provide antioxidant benefit.  Think of foods vibrant in color or flavor.   Some could assist in helping to regulate GLP-1 to improve appetite suppression and hunger.



Consuming healthy fats benefits your gut, lowers cholesterol, and decreases risk of heart disease.  Studies show it helps with GLP-1 release for appetite suppression and healthy blood sugar regulation.  Recommendation: use 2 ¼ teaspoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil in your cooking.




A plant from South America, Yerba Mate is used for tea that is high in polyphenols, flavonoids, and antioxidants.  It promotes satiety by increasing intestinal GLP-1and modulates leptin levels to control visceral fat accumulation. Yerba Mate Tea SUPPLEMENTS

Berberine – stimulates intestinal secretion of GLP-1 by targeting bitter taste receptors. Found in European barberry, goldenseal, goldthread, Oregon grape, and tree turmeric.

Probiotics – Endomune Metabolic Rescue includes a unique combination of prebiotic and probiotics to stimulate the release of GLP-1 resulting in a decreased appetite and slowing stomach motility after a meal (smaller meal size). 

Other lifestyle factors:

  • Chewing foods well and taking 20-30 minutes for meals can increase GLP-1 and ease digestion with prescription GLP-1 Agonists
  • Staying well-hydrated (approximately 64 oz daily of water) improves digestive health and GLP-1 secretion.
  • Regular exercise not only helps maintain a healthy weight, but it also plays a crucial role in increasing GLP-1 levels. In fact, research by the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that exercise can increase GLP-1 levels by up to 50%. To get the most benefit, it is recommended to engage in a combination of weight training and cardiovascular exercise. Weight training helps build muscle, which can increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin and improve GLP-1 production. Engaging in cardiovascular activities like running or cycling can boost the production of GLP-1. To maximize the benefits, it’s advisable to engage in moderate-to-vigorous exercise for at least 150 minutes per week.
  • Practice stress management. Stress can lower GLP-1. The release of cortisol can disrupt the production of GLP-1.  Practice regular stress management such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises.
  • Prioritize sleep for overall health, well-being, and hormone regulation. Lack of sleep decreases GLP-1 and increases appetite.  Seven to eight hours is recommended for optimal hormone regulation. 


Increasing GLP-1 levels naturally can be a tremendous way to maintain optimal health. By incorporating dietary strategies, lifestyle modifications, and possibly supplements, we can improve our gut health and support GLP-1 production, leading to better blood sugar control, weight management, and overall well-being.

Another helpful blog you might consider is : Bariatric Surgery and Immunity.


Mette Johannsen Mandøe, Katrine Bagge Hansen, Johanne Agerlin Windeløv, Filip Krag Knop, Jens Frederik Rehfeld, Mette Marie Rosenkilde, Jens Juul Holst & Harald Severin Hansen. Comparing olive oil and C4-dietary oil, a prodrug for the GPR119 agonist, 2-oleoyl glycerol, less energy intake of the latter is needed to stimulate incretin hormone secretion in overweight subjects with type 2 diabetes. Nutrition &Diabetes. 12 January 2018


Alessandra Gambero and Marcelo L. Ribeiro. The Positive Effects of Yerba Maté (Ilex paraguariensis) in Obesity. Nutrients, 2015 Feb; 7 (2):730-750

Hidetaka Hamasaki.  Exercise and glucagon-like peptide-1: Does exercise potentiate the effect of treatment? World J Diabetes. 2018 Aug 15; 9(8):138-140