Hello, again! This is Pamela Reilly again. I want to again thank Tami so much for inviting me to be a guest poster on her blog. Thanks, Tami! Today I want to follow-up on my post about the factors that separate a raw diabetic from other raw foodists with a post about foods and herbs that are traditionally known for helping control and lower blood sugars. I’ve included herbs because one of my favorite things about smoothies is that you can easily add herbs to them and never even know they’re there! Although this post is aimed primarily at diabetics, anyone can benefit from including these foods in your diet, as eating them can give your pancreas a rest and help keep it healthy. There is also some evidence that these foods can possibly help prevent the occurrence of Type 2 Diabetes. Each of these herbs and foods contain high levels of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and amino acids that anyone’s body will thank them for eating.
Note: This information is being shared purely for educational purposes. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and this information is not intended to treat, cure, diagnose or prevent any disease. Use these foods with caution if you have Diabetes and do not make any major dietary changes without first consulting your healthcare practitioner.
Enough of the legal mumbo jumbo … let's get to it! Many of the foods and herbs that I’ll be discussing are useful for controlling blood sugars because they contain high amounts of the following natural elements:
- Acetic Acid: Found in vinegars, lemon and lime juices. Acetic acid slows down the digestion of food by neutralizing some digestive enzymes. This serves to delay the blood sugar raising effects of carbohydrates. I recommend using only small amounts of foods containing acetic acid, as you don’t want to “kill off” too many of your digestive enzymes during a meal.
- Chromium: Helps the body metabolize carbohydrates and fats; also helps the body utilize insulin. An added benefit of Chromium is that it has been shown to help with weight loss, and many people develop diabetes as a result of being. I currently use Chromium to help lower elevated blood sugars and can personally attest to its effectiveness. I’d much rather pop a couple of Chromium capsules (200 mg) than take a shot!
- Insulin Imitators (aka “Mimetics”): Several of the foods shown below are known as “insulin imitators” because the body uses them just like it does insulin. In other words, their action mimics what insulin does in the body.
- Magnesium: The body uses Magnesium to regulate blood sugar levels. It also helps the cells of the body utilize insulin, which can lower insulin resistance. Some studies have shown that Type 2 diabetics typically have low Magnesium levels. (Other studies have shown that 70% of the US population is deficient in Magnesium, so those Type 2’s have plenty of company!)
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Help the body metabolize glucose and also increase insulin sensitivity.
- Zinc: Essential for the body to produce and store insulin. Some studies have shown that Type 2 diabetics typically have low Zinc levels.
The following foods and herbs have a reputation for lowering or helping control glucose levels and/or for supporting the pancreas:
- Aloe Vera Juice: Contains high levels of compounds called Glyconutrients, which the body uses for healing. Glyconutrients have been shown to be helpful for a wide variety of health issues, but are known for being especially helpful for Diabetes. You can either use the interior gel from a fresh Aloe Vera leaf or can purchase Aloe Vera Juice in bottles. When purchasing Aloe Vera Juice, be careful to purchase one that does not contain chemicals and artificial ingredients. Be vigilant to avoid any containing artificial preservatives.
- Avocado: Increases insulin sensitivity and contains insulin imitators. The healthy fats in an Avocado also help delay the body’s absorption of glucose. I add an Avocado to every smoothie I make because it makes smoothies really creamy.
- Cinnamon and Coriander: Are insulin imitators, increase insulin sensitivity, and work in combination with insulin to improve its effectiveness. Cinnamon has also been shown to help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. So pour it on!
- Fenugreek: Helps delay the absorption of glucose by the body and also increases insulin sensitivity. The best way to get a healthy dose of Fenugreek is to sprout the seeds and use the sprouts in smoothies.
- Flax and Hemp Seeds: Very high in Omega 3 Fatty Acids and in fiber, which slows the body’s absorption of glucose.
- Ginger: Increases insulin sensitivity.
- Gymnema Sylvestre: An Ayurvedic (Indian) herb that is wonderful for Diabetes. It is an insulin imitator. More importantly, Gymnema has been shown to actually help the body regenerate the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Gymnema typically needs to be taken at least three months before beta cell regeneration is seen, but the regeneration rates are much higher and faster for anyone eating a raw food diet. Although Gymnema Sylvestre leaves can be purchased in a dried form from many herb vendors, I recommend taking it in capsule form or emptying the capsule(s) into your morning smoothie. Typical dosage is 400-1200 mg/day.
- Jerusalem Artichoke (aka “Sunchoke”): A type of sunflower that is very common in the Southwestern US. Is an insulin imitator and its high fiber content slows the body’s absorption of glucose. Jerusalem Artichokes are the roots of the plant and look kind of like Ginger roots. They have a light, almost sweet taste that reminds me of water chestnuts, and have a really nice light and crunchy texture. They work great in smoothies but can be hard to get broken down in a traditional blender. A Vita-Mix handles them without problem.
- Lemon and Lime Juices: Contain acetic acid (see above) which delays the glycemic effects of carbohydrates.
- Nopal Cactus (aka “Prickly Pear Cactus”): Nopal has a long history and tradition for use in addressing Diabetes issues. Nopal’s high fiber content delays the body’s absorption of glucose. Nopal also increases insulin sensitivity, is an insulin imitator, and may help regenerate pancreatic beta cells over time. The pads of the Nopal are typically used, although the fruits may also be helpful. You can typically find Nopal pads in Hispanic or international groceries. To use, scrape the thorns off with a knife, then dice to add to a smoothie. This is another food I use on a daily basis, so I know it works!!
- Nuts (especially Almonds, Pecans, Walnuts): High in Omega 3’s and other essential fatty acids. The healthy fats in nuts help delay the body’s absorption of glucose.
- Spirulina: High in Magnesium, protein (which helps keep blood sugars stable), and essential fatty acids. One more reason it’s a superfood!
- Stevia: Is not only the perfect sweetener for diabetics, but is also very high in Chromium and therefore supports the pancreas, too. It’s perfect!
Missing from this list is the “infamous” Bitter Melon, which looks like a leprous Cucumber and is a powerful insulin imitator. I spent a few days experimenting with Bitter Melon a while back and learned very quickly why they call it “bitter.” I couldn’t find any combination of vegetables or spices that covered the bitterness. Apparently the only way to get rid of the bitterness is to cook it, which simply wasn’t an option. I had half of a Bitter Melon left when I was done experimenting. I can’t stand to throw “good” food away, so I gave it to our dogs. (Please don’t report me to the ASPCA!) They wouldn't touch it and appeared rather suspicious of me for the rest of the day. This one’s best taken in capsules.
Following are a few easy-to-make, delicious smoothies that incorporate some of the above foods and supplements. I didn’t include instructions because I know you’re already proficient in the fine art of throwing ingredients into a Vita-Mix and turning it on. *grin* Please note that Stevia (to taste) is an optional ingredient in all of these smoothies if you like a sweeter taste.
Sugar Buster Smoothie
1 ounce Aloe Vera Juice (or 2 tablespoons fresh gel from leaf)
1 cup Purified Water or Unsweetened Nut Milk
3 diced Jerusalem Artichokes
1 Nopal pad, diced
2 tablespoons cup Ground Flax or Hemp Seeds
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
½ teaspoon Coriander
Lemon Aid Ginger Smoothie
3 tablespoons – ½ cup Lemon or Lime Juice (add more if you like extra pucker power)
1 cup Unsweetened Hemp Milk
½ teaspoon Fresh Ginger Root (¼ teaspoon dried)
1 Sweet Orange Pepper, diced
1 Sweet Red Pepper, diced
1 handful Fenugreek Sprouts
1 Nopal Pad, diced
Stevia to taste
¼ cup Spirulina Powder
1 handful Fenugreek Sprouts
1 oz Aloe Vera Juice (or 2 tablespoons fresh gel from leaf)
1 cup Purified Water
4 Jerusalem Artichoke Bulbs, diced
2 Nopal pads, diced
Thanks again for Tami for allowing me to guest blog! Have a glorious day and go live abundantly!
Please feel free to contact me via any of the following:
My website: Good Works Wellness Research, LLC
I'm very exciting to announce that in April I will be launching a 30-day "Rawvolutionary Healing" Living Foods Coaching program specifically designed for diabetics and others on Phase 1 of the Rainbow Green Live Food Cuisine program. Please contact me if you'd like to receive updates on this program.
I'm also very excited to announce that I will be a speaker at Raw Spirit Fest in Prescott, Arizona. Raw Spirit Fests are two to three day festivals that celebrate every aspect of the raw food lifestyle. Please check out the website and come join me!