Juicing is a great way to get a huge heap of nutrition and antioxidants from fresh fruits and vegetables but when it comes to juicing for diabetes, the rules change a little.
Diabetes is a complicated disease. Between the blood tests, insulin injections, and regular doctor visits, your normal life is disrupted in a big way. When visiting your healthcare provider, the most common answer to help manage or even cure diabetes is a “lifestyle change”.
That could mean anything from a new exercise routine, adjustment in job functions, or exploring different food options. However, one thing is clear: when discussing diabetes, the word “sugar” comes up again and again.
Is Juicing for Diabetes a Good Idea?
Is it possible that juicing, something that is oftentimes packed with sugar, could benefit someone with diabetes?
Granted, fruit has a lot of natural sugar. If you have diabetes, changing your eating habits most likely means decreasing your sugar intake. In Medical News Today, scientists discuss how there is a potential link between too much sugar consumption and diabetes.
“The findings don’t provide concrete evidence that sugar causes diabetes, but it does suggest that it can affect the liver and pancreas in ways that other foods do not, contributing to the disease.”
When done properly, juicing has many health benefits that healthcare providers approve of when discussing glucose levels.
With the right fruits and vegetables, juicing can be part of a diabetic’s daily routine, and help increase energy levels and even minimize symptoms. Below are some helpful reasons why juicing helps overcome type 2 diabetes, tips and tricks, and the common mistakes that can happen when attempting the juicing lifestyle.
Juicing for Diabetes: How It Helps
First, it’s important to note that juicing for diabetes is something that involves heavy research before diving into it wholeheartedly. If you drink the “wrong” juice, your blood glucose levels can shoot through the roof. However, if done correctly, there are many amazing health benefits. Let’s talk about the benefits of specifically juicing while having diabetes.
As previously mentioned, health care providers most likely want you to do a drastic lifestyle change if you are suffering from diabetes. That includes increased consumption of fruits and vegetables. Juicing fruits and vegetables helps get the intake necessary and easily for a well balanced diet so it isn’t such a stressful, time consuming ordeal.
Also, some studies even suggest that if you stick to a strict fruit and vegetable juice cleanse (supplemented with soups and salads) for approximately three weeks, that you can reverse the damage or essentially cure Type 2 diabetes due to the massive amount of whole nutrients you’re getting from these vitamin dense foods.
Though there are some controversies surrounding “juicing” in general, if done correctly, juicing could be a very positive dietary change.
3 Little Rules on Juicing for Diabetics
When you’re juicing for diabetes – or for a diabetic in your life, the difference between juicing for health and juicing for harm comes down to following just 3 little rules of thumb. Make sure to keep these in mind for every juice recipe you make!
The 80/20 Rule
When juicing as a diabetic, most nutritionists recommend the 80/20 rule. Meaning, 80% vegetables and 20% fruit. There are many variations of this rule, but it more or less rings true in most recipes.
But this doesn’t mean you need to just drink vegetable juices all the time. There are creative ways of applying this, especially if you juice and blend.
So you already know that fibrous foods are extra important since fiber helps slow down sugar absorption. And this is where juicing falls a little short since juicing essentially extracts the juicy goodness from fruits and veggies and disposes of the insoluble fiber.
Although you’ll still get soluble fiber from your juices, it’s a good idea to make sure to also get your fill of insoluble fiber. So the best thing? You’ll want to blend a lot of fruits as well as vegetables. We recommend mostly juicing vegetables – with at least 80% veggies and only 20% or less fruit – in your juice recipes, and blending low-sugar fruits like berries and avocados as well as fibrous veggies like collard greens and swiss chard.
You can even juice the vegetables and then blend the juice with some fruit like bananas, berries and avocado to get get your fill of both soluble and insoluble fiber, which are essential for keeping your blood sugar levels steady, while also getting a huge dose of nutrients. Win win.
Watch the Sugar
Fruits are often accused of being high in sugar. And unlike with regular juicing, diabetics have to watch sugar levels, even in something as nutritious as fruit.
But this doesn’t mean you have to leave out the fruit altogether – ‘though some fruits are very high in sugar (we’re looking at you, pineapple and mango!), there are many that are lower sugar density and yummy to boot, like strawberries, grapefruit, raspberries, blackberries, and peaches.
Plus, a little goes a long way, and the sweetness in fruit helps balance out the earthy taste of vegetables. In other words: most diabetic juice recipes won’t be super sweet, but will be satisfying and nutrient dense.
Juice the Best Foods for Diabetes
You just got the bad news – that some fruits can be too high in sugar for diabetics – and now it’s time for the good news: there is a pretty big range of fruits, veggies and herbs that hugely beneficial for diabetes. And this is where juicing for diabetes makes a lot of sense because it allows you to consume these helpful foods in an easy, effective manner.
10 Best Foods to Juice for Diabetes
So which foods are best when you’re juicing for diabetes?
Good question. After all, juicing for diabetes requires a carefully curated selection of juicing ingredients. Here are the most beneficial fruits and veggies to include in your juice recipes!
This magical, subtropical squash offers multi-faceted benefits for diabetics. One of its most notable qualities? It regulates glucose metabolism by helping cells take up glucose for energy as needed. This is a significant task since there aren’t a lot of foods that can do that kind of work (although exercise does!).
Bitter melon extract has even been shown in multiple studies to have a hypoglycemic effect, helping to lower blood sugar levels as well as to regulate how the body uses insulin. And whereas the taste of bitter melon juice may be unfamiliar to your taste buds, your body is already well-tuned to the stuff – when consumed, bitter melon extract behaves just like the insulin that the body produces naturally.
Who knew asparagus was so beneficial for diabetics? One study from the British Medical Journal in 2006 showed asparagus causing an 81% increase in glucose uptake while testing on rats. This helps in improving insulin output, and provided much needed glucose injected into the bodies muscle and tissue. It also is incredibly helpful in keeping blood sugar levels steady.
Not only is avocado heaven on earth, it is one of the healthiest fats you can have! For diabetics, this is important as it is high in monounsaturated fat. Studies have shown that when a food is high in this type of fat and low in carbs it could improve insulin sensitivity.
Added bonus: avocados have been shown to improve heart-related health, which is important for diabetics as they are at higher risk for strokes and heart attacks.
Leafy greens are your friends! Spinach, kale, watercress, wheatgrass, arugula, lettuce – all of these leafy greens are chock full of protective polyphenols and antioxidants. And not only do they taste great in both juice recipes and smoothies, leafy greens are an excellent way to fight diabetes.
Researchers found that eating a serving of leafy greens a day cuts diabetes risk down 14 percent, and was a way more significant percentage than eating fruits and veggies in general. This is due in part to the extremely high magnesium content found in leafy greens (more on this important mineral in a little bit).
Though there are some issues with grapefruit depending on what medication you take (please check with your doctor about side effects grapefruit may have), grapefruit is an excellent source of vitamin C, and has a very low glycemic index of 25, which is perfect for a diabetics dietary restrictions.
Plus, it adds a bit of juicy sweetness to your juice recipes, which is a welcome addition when you’re juicing mostly veggies!
There’s a reason why Native American cultures use the prickly pear cactus in various recipes and medicinal treatments. It not only lowers blood sugar levels, it is also known for antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.
The high soluble fiber in the flesh of the cacti helps absorb sugar in your system. Lastly, with the extra benefits of vitamin C, E, A, iron, calcium and carotenoids, it’s also been known to lower cholesterol levels in over six different research studies. With prickly pears, you get non-prickly results!
Like bitter melon, ginseng reduces insulin resistance and also helps with blood sugar levels. If you can’t find it in it’s natural form, no worries, many studies suggest that it is still pretty potent in capsule form as well.
Ginger gives juice recipes a distinctive kick and this spicy rhizome has been used to relieve nauseousness, the common cold and digestion for hundreds of years, but it doesn’t stop there – this magnificent root has some amazing diabetes benefits as well.
Taking ginger extracts significantly helps the serotonin receptors in receiving insulin. Studies have shown that regular treatments of ginger can cause up to a 35% drop in blood glucose while a 10% rise in plasma insulin levels. Taking ginger regularly even helps with preventing the onset of cataracts. Ginger is surely a wonder root!
Turmeric is a diabetes superfood! Not only does it help with cholesterol, the curcumin in turmeric prevents fat from attaching itself onto the liver, improves insulin function, regulates kidney functions, and fights cancer. Is there anything turmeric can’t do?
Onions are great for reducing high blood glucose and cholesterol levels in diabetic patients. The best part? Onions are cheap and can be found in many different grocery stores unlike other kinds of more exotic produce.
Must Do’s When Juicing for Diabetes
All this being said, it can be scary trying something as big as this. This new world of juicing and watching your health every second can be overwhelming. Here are some important tips to help do juicing successfully as a diabetic.
Switch it up for diverse vitamins and minerals
The above are the best foods to toss into your juicer when you’re juicing for diabetes but always try to reintroduce new fruits and veggies to your juicing routine. It can be as simple as switching out kale for watercress or replacing spinach with arugula.
This sort of juicing diversity is great because it makes sure you’re getting a diverse array of vitamins and minerals that are great for diabetics, such as magnesium, which is a vital mineral that helps with making sure your insulin receptors are functioning properly.
In extreme cases of diabetes, insulin shots are necessary if insulin receptors aren’t working. Magnesium helps your body function better, and is essential in helping decrease diabetes symptoms. Fruits and veggies that are rich in magnesium include spinach, avocado, chard.
Add flavor without adding sugar
Just because you’re avoiding juicing too many high sugar dense fruits such as pineapple, bananas, or mangoes – it doesn’t mean your juice recipes can’t be full of yummy flavor. Here’s some tips on keeping your juice recipes healthy and delicious…
- Try adding high water content rich vegetables such as cucumber or celery to most of your juices. It helps balance out some of the bitterness other fruits and veggies have, and keeps you well-hydrated.
- Instead of using fruit to sweeten your juice recipes, try sweet vegetables like carrots and sweet potato, both of which have tons of Vitamin A that improves insulin function and can combat eye problems in diabetics.
- Want to change the flavor while still needing all those vegetables? Try adding some herbs or spices to change it up. Good options are: parsley, ginger, fennel and cilantro.
- Apples are a popular juicing ingredient, thanks to their ability to add an instant, welcome sweetness. If you want to juice apples, go for green apples rather than the red ones – the green ones contain more nutrients and less sugar.
Another note on apples: buy organic so you can keep the peels on. The polyphenols in apples are mostly found in the apple skin and they’re very beneficial for diabetes, helping to stimulate your pancreas to release insulin.
Manage sugar cravings
Some type 2 diabetes sufferers suffer from something else: sugar addiction. When sugar is eaten in large amounts it activates dopamine in part of the brain called Nucleus Accumbens, also known as the pleasure center. Studies show that the release of this dopamine is sometimes equivalent to taking cocaine!
In America today, there is more sugar and corn syrup added to already large portion sizes, so it’s easy to become addicted to something that is familiar and consistent in our day to day diets.
Due to this steady increase in sugar in our diets, scientists have tried to find a way to combat the cravings. Amazingly, chromium, a mineral that not only helps with balancing blood glucose, is shown to help in curbing some of the sugar cravings. Not surprisingly, people who suffer from diabetes often have low chromium levels.
Fruits and veggies that are rich in chromium? Juice, blend and eat broccoli, corn, sweet potatoes.
3 Delish Diabetes Juice Recipes
There are many different varieties when it comes to diabetes friendly juices. Once you get into the mindset of experimenting so you won’t get bored or disappointed, it’ll be easy to get into the habit of getting in your fruits and vegetables for the day!
Sweet and Bitter Juice Recipe for Diabetes
Part of juicing for diabetes includes trying things you’ve never purchased (or even heard of) before – like bitter melon, which is recently coming to light as a potential cure all for diabetes. There have been several studies showing that this strange, bumpy fruit has nutrients that help lower glucose levels dramatically.
Curious to try it? Here’s a simple bitter melon juice recipe:
- 1 large bitter melon
- 1 medium cucumber
- Half a lemon (peeled)
- 1 Fuji apple
- 1 inch ginger
It is important to note that you may feel tempted to add more apple due to its sweetness. One Fuji apple helps stop some of the bitterness, but adding too much apple juice shoots your glucose through the roof. Remember, moderation is key. Consider adding more cucumber to help with the bitter taste of the melon instead or simply dilute with water as needed.
Alkalizing Juice Recipe for Diabetes
This healthy juice recipe has a mild, earthy taste that’s the perfect mix of green and sweet. This drink alone can easily be 2-3 servings worth of vegetables and is well worth trying out. It includes:
- 2 stalks organic celery
- 1 organic cucumber
- 1 organic green apple
- 1 organic carrot
- 1 cup organic spinach
One of the reasons why juicing encourages you to buy organic is due to the high amount of pesticides and chemicals in non organic food sources. It’s important while juicing to remain as “pure” as possible so you can get the most potent natural source of vitamins and minerals available, and also do your homework.
Some fruits and veggies are treated minimally with pesticides while others are often oversprayed. This doesn’t mean you need to totally go organic to avoid the chemicals all together – just know which fruits and veggies should really be bought organic.
Cleansing Root Juice
One of the most clever ways to instantly sweeten a juice that’s a little too “veggie-like” for you and make the juice more palatable is to simply add a sweet potato. Chalk full of chromium, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin B6, sweet potatoes help balance out and subtly sweeten an otherwise leafy vegetable juice. Here’s a quick recipe including sweet potato:
- 1 carrot
- ½ fennel
- 2 ribs of celery
- 1 sweet potato
As you can see, there are a ton of options when adding fresh juice to your dietary requirements. You’re able to play around with different ingredients, all of which offer so many nutritional benefits.
More Tips on Juicing for Diabetes
- Sprinkle cinnamon on everything. Cinnamon is not only yummy – just half a teaspoon per day can make your cells more sensitive to insulin, lower blood spikes after eating, and improve your heart health.
- Healthy fats are your friends. Stock up on omega-3s – a recent Spanish study found that following a Mediterranean-style diet rich in olive oil helps reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by as much as 50 percent compared to a diet low in fat. And that’s not the only one – thousands of studies show that people with the highest levels of omega-3s in their body have less inflammation – the very inflammation that leads to and worsens diabetes.
- Stock up on cruciferous veggies. Broccoli, cauliflower, and kale are all crucifers and on top of being some of the healthiest foods out there, they also contain a compound called sulforaphane which have anti-inflammatory properties and help improve blood sugar control as well as protect blood vessels from the cardiovascular damage that can result from diabetes.
- Go berry picking. Berries – like the blueberries you can find in your local supermarket as well as more exotically-sourced ones like acai and camu camu – are great sources of both insoluble and soluble fiber (improves blood sugar control and have been linked to lowered blood glucose levels and increase insulin sensitivity.
- Snack on nuts and seeds. Walnuts and flax seeds contain magnesium, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts also contain alpha-linolenic acid, which improves insulin sensitivity. Both nuts and seeds generally have low GI scores, as well, and multiple studies have shown that those eat nuts regularly have less risk of developing diabetes.
- Fiber is a must. A study at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center proved that fiber is very, very good for you – it showed that people who increased fiber intake from 24 to 50 grams a day showed dramatic improvements in blood sugar levels. In fact, the high-fiber diet was as effective as some diabetes medications.
Though it may be challenging at first to understand the balance it takes to make sure you’re receiving everything necessary for a healthier lifestyle, with time it’ll become part of your everyday life. There are few things more important than your own health and well being, so the time and research it takes to learn how to effectively juice for diabetes is worth it!