What is diabetes?
Looking back to my days as a nursing student I can still clearly recall the two types of diabetes—Diabetes Mellitus and Diabetes Insipidus. The latter doesn’t involve insulin deficiency so we’ll focus on the first one.
There are two types of diabetes mellitus:
Diabetes Mellitus Type 1 is also known as juvenile diabetes or insulin dependent diabetes. The onset is usually during childhood and adolescence caused by autoimmune destruction of the cells that produce insulin. This type of diabetes is irreversible which calls for a life long insulin injections to stabilize glucose levels. Type 1 accounts for less than 10% of all diabetes mellitus cases.
Diabetes Mellitus Type 2 is also known as adult-onset diabetes or non-insulin dependent diabetes. Roughly 95 percent of individuals with diabetes are diagnosed with type 2. This calculates to over 20 million people in the United States alone. In type 2 diabetes, your body either does not produce enough insulin or does not process it well (also known as insulin resistance). When you begin to develop type 2 diabetes, your pancreas produces more insulin to make up for the way your body uses the insulin.
As time goes on, your pancreas is unable to make enough to maintain your blood sugar levels. When glucose (sugar or carbohydrates from food) is not turned into energy, it begins to collect in the blood, which causes a blood sugar spike. It can be dangerous if the glucose levels in your blood are not regulated within the normal levels.
The risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:
- Unhealthy diet
- Family history of diabetes
- Lack of exercise
- Obesity or overweight (especially fat storage in the abdomen)
- High blood pressure
- History of gestational diabetes
- History of polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Prediabetes (above normal glucose levels, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes)
Signs and Symptoms
You may even develop type 2 diabetes without being aware because the signs are subtle. It is important to speak with your doctor if you find that you are experiencing the following symptoms.
- Extreme fatigue
- Blurred vision
- Increased thirst and/or hunger
- Increased urination
- Slow to heal lacerations or bruises
- Unexplained weight loss
- Tingling, numbness, or pain in the hands/feet
A poor diet and obesity are the main reasons individuals develop type 2 diabetes. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may want to place you on medication that will help you control the disease. However, there are additional steps you can take to manage the disease.
- Begin an exercise program to reduce your weight, which will lower the level of fat in your body.
- Drink lots of water to help your body remain hydrated.
- Improve your diet by eating more raw vegetables, fruits, lean meats, and whole grains.
- Plan your meals for the week, so you won’t feel inclined to grab something unhealthy.
- Count your daily carbohydrate intake levels.
- Lower your levels of stress. When you become stressed, your blood glucose increases, raising your blood pressure and risk of heart disease.
- Regularly monitor your blood sugar levels.
- Don’t miss your prescribed medications
- Learn as much as you can about type 2 diabetes because every individual’s situation differs from the next. Knowledge is power.
Is Juicing Safe for Diabetics?
There are two ways to take advantage of juicing—juice fasting and juice feasting.
Juice fasting also known as juice detox or juice cleansing substitute meals for a glass of juice in a span of one, two, or three days or even a week on the extreme end. This practice is highly contraindicated for diabetics. It can either cause hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia depending on the situation.
Skipping meals in favor of freshly pressed juices will cause hypoglycemia. Drinking your juice without checking the sugar content can cause abrupt elevation of your sugar. Maintaining your glucose level should be of utmost priority in any case.
The good news is you can still enjoy juicing thru juice feasting.
To put it simply juice feasting means including a glass of freshly pressed juice in your regular meals or having it as a snack. This is completely fine if you are suffering from either diabetes mellitus type 1 or type 2 as long as you observe these tips.
- Always count the sugar content of your juice recipe
- Do the math. If you are juicing during meal time deduct the sugar content of the juice from your meal
- Opt for green juices but you can still include small portion of fruits for flavor and always refer to tip #1
- Follow the tips above for managing diabetes
The stigma about juicing being unsafe for diabetics is mostly invalidated taking juice feasting into account. Juicing is perfectly safe and healthy—as long as you know what to juice and what to avoid. You see, when one thinks of juice, fruit juice automatically comes to mind. However, drinking massive quantities of fruit juice is not entirely healthy for anyone, let alone those with health issues. Fruits naturally contain more sugar and a higher glycemic index (GI), which can cause a spike in your blood glucose level if you consume too much in one sitting.
For this reason, when juicing you should choose leafy greens and vegetables. Fresh green juice is healthy for a variety of individuals, especially those with type 2 diabetes because vegetables contain low quantities of carbohydrates. For this obvious reason, vegetables have a lower GI and do not significantly raise blood sugar levels.
Here’s a list of fruits and vegetables with low carbohydrate content. These are ideal ingredients for diabetic-safe juices. According to research this list of produce have insulin-like property which helps in stabilizing blood sugar levels.
Something else to consider about juicing for diabetics is that the process removes much of the fiber than if you were to consume it whole. The fiber slows the absorption of the nutrients and sugars, which is another reason you should stick with produce that is low in sugar. Fruits such as other varieties of apples, oranges, and pineapples contain higher sugar levels. These are best eaten whole or used in a smoothie.
Smoothies are an excellent option for including all of the fiber. The fiber is included in the smoothie, which allows your body to slowly digest the contents of the smoothie. A small piece of fruit has approximately 15 grams of carbohydrates. If you’re going to juice fruit, proceed with caution and remember to count your carbohydrates.
As long as you mainly juice greens and vegetables, it can help you shed weight while boosting your intake of nutrients and antioxidants, which will help your body better manage your diabetes. It will reduce your symptoms, and in some instances, individuals have reversed their diabetes through diet and exercise.
In today’s fast-paced society, it can be difficult to sustain a healthy diet. For diabetics, maintaining a healthy diet is even more important because when diabetics eat foods that drastically affect their blood glucose level over a prolonged time period, severe complications can develop. These include blindness, kidney failure, cardiovascular disease, and lower limb amputation.
While type 2 diabetes has been shown to have a genetic link, the best method of prevention is to engage in regular exercise and eat a healthy diet. Exercise doesn’t have to be mundane. Make it fun! Go dancing, swimming, or hiking. Juicing allows individuals to easily get essential vitamins, enzymes, and antioxidants into their diet. It doesn’t take much and these actions will drastically lower your chance of developing diabetes. Before making any changes to your diet, always speak with your doctor—especially if you are taking medication for your condition. Some foods interfere with the effectiveness of a medicine.
It might feel like your world is over when you get the news from your doctor, but it’s not! You can still enjoy eating and best of all juicing. The key thing to remember with any type of diabetes is to learn to balance your diet with a variety of healthy foods to ensure you do not go over your blood sugar target. If it seems overwhelming, don’t suffer in silence. Consider getting help and joining a support group in your area.