Juicing has been a popular health trend for the past several years, due to its many health benefits, full sweet flavor, and the fact that it allows you to enjoy a full serving of fruit and veggies, in just one small cup. There are many benefits that come with drinking a fresh glass of juice in the morning, such as improved absorption of nutrients, easier digestion, and weight loss. But what about juicing and diabetes? Is juicing still a healthy option if you’re on a strict diet that causes you to severely limit your sugar intake per meal? Let’s learn more.
The World of Juicing
If you’re just now researching the trend of juicing your own fruits and veggies, then you may have learned a little about the juicing process itself. Juicing involves extracting liquid from veggies or fruits in order to obtain the plant compounds, minerals, and vitamins from the produce. There are many methods used for juicing, but using the best cold press juicer is among the most popular.
Many studies have found that drinking homemade juice is significantly healthier when compared to juice purchased at the grocery store, since commercial juice tends to lack in nutrients, but has a significantly higher sugar content. Homemade juice also doesn’t contain preservatives or artificial nutrients.
Fresh fruits and veggies are loaded with plant compounds, minerals, and vitamins that are known for their ability to promote overall health, prevent disease, and reduce inflammation. Research has shown that drinking fruit and veggie juice can be a very efficient way to consume daily vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant doses per day. Additionally, many fruits and veggies contain certain types of nutrients that also function as prebiotics, meaning they provide fuel for healthy bacteria in the gut.
Research has also shown us that people who regularly drink fresh juice at home are more likely to eat more whole veggies and fruit.
In many cases, it tends to be easier for a person to drink nutrient-dense fruits and veggies than to prepare a full meal that’s loaded with them.
If you’re someone who struggles to meet the daily recommended servings of fruits and veggies, then juicing can be a viable option, as long as you don’t consume more calories than you normally would per day.
Considering the high sugar content found in some fruits, can juicing raise blood sugar? If so, can diabetics still juice?
One of the biggest issues with drinking juice is its ability to quickly increase blood sugar levels. Obviously, this will be a big concern for diabetics.
While drinking fresh juice is not linked with an increased risk of diabetes, it’s not the best option for people who have it. Juice is a concentrated source of carbs. If you have diabetes, controlling and monitoring your carb intake will be essential in order to maintain blood sugar levels that are balanced. Eating a diet that’s high in fiber can help to slow down the absorption rate of sugar in the digestive tract, which can reduce the body’s total sugar response.
A large portion of fiber is removed from veggies and fruits during the juicing process. Because of this, the sugars in fruit and veggies are absorbed at a faster rate, which leads to a major, rapid spike in blood sugar levels.
As an example, it can take two oranges to make just one cup of orange juice. Many people agree that drinking this amount of juice is much faster and easier compared to peeling and eating a couple of oranges. But when you eat the whole fruit and not just the juice, it offers a more manageable and slower rise in blood sugar, which is in part due to the fact that eating a couple of whole oranges will take much longer than drinking a small cup of the juice.
Additionally, it’s easy to accidentally go overboard and consume too many calories and sugar when you’re drinking juice than it is when you consume the whole food. The consumption of extra calories can lead to weight gain, not to mention trouble managing and controlling blood sugar levels over time.
Low in Fiber
Most juices are low in protein and fiber, but high in sugar. This is also why drinking juice can result in a negative blood sugar response in people diagnosed with diabetes. Some studies have shown that eating snacks or consuming a meal that’s higher in protein and fiber can help to curb the blood sugar response. As an added bonus, it will also increase the feeling of fullness.
Because of these findings, many dieticians will recommend pairing juice with other foods that are high in protein and fiber, in order to improve diabetic control.
While the carb content can vary and will depend on the type of veggie or fruit used in any given juice, a serving size that consists of one hundred percent fruit juice is usually four ounces. This small serving is often exceeded. When you consume carbs from whole foods, the portion sizes are often much larger, which will allow you to eat more and feel full since whole foods contain nutrients that are more filling, such as protein and sugar.
By far, protein is the most filling macronutrient. Adding a lean protein source to a snack or meal can help you lower your overall calorie intake, which will reduce your blood sugar levels.
If you’re diabetic and plan on drinking a fresh glass of juice, then plan on eating a source of fiber and protein with it, such as a few almonds. This will work to mitigate the rise in your blood sugar levels.
Summing it up, most juice lacks protein and fiber, both of which are nutrients that can help to curb the body’s blood sugar response. Drinking too much juice is easy, and it can contribute to poor blood sugar control in people with diabetes. By taking some steps to reduce the negative effects of drinking juice, such as incorporating a source of fiber and protein, you can better manage your blood sugar, preventing a spike in your blood sugar levels.
Low Carb Juice
Using low carb veggies and fruits can also help to minimize the body’s blood sugar response. You can mix low carb options such as lime, lemon, or cucumber, with your fruit juice in order to lower the overall carb content. You can also drink juice that’s made with non-starchy veggies such as tomatoes, kale, spinach, and celery.
For more information on juicing when you’re on a low carb diet, click here to read my article on juicing tips for beginners.
Monitoring the portions of foods that are high in carbs will also be important if you need to work on managing blood sugar levels and preventing a spike. As I mentioned earlier, the right portion size of juice is just four ounces. Make sure you pay attention to how many carbs you consume from drinking juice, in addition to the total amount of carbs that are consumed from food throughout the day. This can help you easily manage blood sugar levels.
Drinking juice will not usually provide a balanced source of nutrition alone since they lack fat, protein, and fiber. Eating foods that contain other nutritional components, in addition to juicing can work to create a nutrient composition that’s more balanced, which will help to lower the blood sugar response.
As an example, you may want to consider making an orange and banana smoothie, instead of just drinking the juice. This way, you won’t miss out on the fiber.
When you blend veggies and fruits to make a smoothie, the fiber is usually broken down, however, it’s still present in the final product, which is what makes it more balanced nutritionally, compared to drinking juice alone. Additionally, healthy fat sources such as almonds and avocados, and the addition of protein powders, can easily be added to your favorite smoothie.
Essentially, choosing juice that contains fewer carbs, including plenty of protein and healthy fats in your diet, and paying attention to portion size, while incorporating foods that are high in fiber, can all help to combat the negative effects that drinking juice can have on your blood sugar.
Drinking Juice on a Diabetic Diet
Whether or not a diabetic can still enjoy fresh juice while following a diabetic diet will vary from person to person and will specifically depend on that individual. If you have diabetes, how your blood sugar responds to beverages and foods will depend on your biochemical and genetic makeup.
If you normally struggle to control your diabetes, then juicing will not be the best option until you get your blood sugar levels under control. Your nutritionist may recommend other ways to incorporate fruit into your diet. If your blood sugar levels are under control, then you can try adding a small amount of juice that’s low in sugar. However, monitoring your blood sugar levels during this time will be very important.
If you’re not sure how much juice you should consume daily and incorporate protein and fiber in order to create the perfect balance, then speak with a dietician or your physician. During this time, closely monitoring your blood sugar will be crucial. Your physician may recommend testing your blood sugar level after you’ve had your morning glass of juice, in order to adjust the parameters of your insulin, if you’re insulin-dependent.
If you decide to drink juice and your blood sugar is not controlled well, doing so can worsen your health. If you have good diabetic control, then small amounts of fresh juice can be a great choice, however, you’ll need to monitor your blood sugar levels at this time.
For some people, drinking juice can be a healthy choice, but it may not be the best one for people with diabetes since many types of juicing recipes have a high sugar content, which can make your blood sugar level skyrocket. Choosing juices that are more veggie-based and paying close attention to portion size can be a great way to reduce the body’s blood sugar response.
The Safe Way to Juice
Juicing can be an excellent way to get in some extra veggies and fruits, however, you can miss out on some important nutrients, which can be a big drawback for people with diabetes.
As I mentioned earlier, using certain veggies such as cucumber, broccoli, kale, and celery, can help reduce any blood sugar spikes. The goal here is to track your carb intake.
People with both type two and type one diabetes have to control their blood sugar at any individual point in the day, not just at mealtimes. If you focus on non-starchy and low carb veggies, juicing can be safe, however, the overall carbs in juice tend to add up very quickly. Consuming juice that has too many carbs will be dangerous for a diabetic, as the carbs are broken down into glucose in the blood, resulting in a spike in blood sugar levels. For effective diabetes management, blood sugar control will be imperative.
Regardless, whether you have type two or type one diabetes, juicing will concentrate the fruit. Since juice isn’t exactly filling, it can be much easier to consume more carbs than if you were to eat the whole fruit. When you juice fruit such as an orange, you end up removing the fiber from the fruit, which results in an increased glycemic index of that fruit. The glycemic index is what measures the food’s effect on a person’s blood sugar. While most fruits are pretty low on the glycemic index and considered safe to eat in moderation, consuming the same fruit in their juice form will reduce that benefit. One study showed that eating whole fruits such as grapes, apples, and blueberries were closely linked to a reduced risk of type two diabetes, but consuming these same types of fruit in their juice form will reduce that benefit.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Juicing for Diabetics
One of the biggest benefits of juicing is that it allows people to easily consume the daily recommended serving of fruits and veggies. It can also be a fun way to experiment with different fruit and veggie combinations. But when the fiber is eliminated from these foods, you will take away the parts of the fruits and veggies that make them beneficial to your GI and digestive tract.
The concept that juicing helps to give the GI tract a break is something that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to health experts around the world. The gastrointestinal tract needs the stimulation provided by fiber. Additionally, there’s no current scientific evidence that juicing can help to prevent certain health conditions, such as cancer, which is a claim that many juicing enthusiasts make. If you’re concerned that your gastrointestinal tract is overwhelmed, speak with your physician before you give juicing a shot for this benefit alone.
For many healthcare experts, it’s the rapidly escalating carbs that cause the most concern and encourage diabetics to stop juicing if they normally have trouble controlling their blood sugar levels. Many specialists believe that even when mostly veggies are juiced, you can easily end up with four ounces of juice that contains around fifteen to twenty grams of carbs, which is comparable to a standard fruit juice. This is because you have to add so many veggies in order to get a similar amount of juice that the veggies are considered low carb begin to add up quickly.
Tips on Juicing Responsibly
- Drink smaller amounts of juice and limit the amount of juice you consume at one time to four ounces only.
- Drink your juice during a meal. This will help you get fat, fiber, and protein, all of which will slow down or prevent the spike in blood sugar.
- Use more non-starchy veggies and choose cucumbers, broccoli, kale, and celery, each of which won’t have a big impact on your blood sugar.
- When making juice only use one serving of juice. This way, you’ll add some much-needed sweetness to your juice, without spiking the blood sugar.
Diabetic-Approved Juicing Recipes
If you’ve read up on cold press juicer advantages and have decided to give juicing a shot, then try using these non-starchy, one serving of fruit juice concoctions:
- Half a grapefruit, one carrot
- One apple with cucumber
- Spicy or green peppers with tomato
- Lemon, ginger, pear, and cucumber
Juicing with diabetes can be a challenge, especially if you normally struggle with controlling your blood sugar levels. Basically, if you have diabetes, but you’re determined to try juicing, then follow the tips I’ve included here. The methods I’ve included will give you a safe way to juice, just as long as you pay close attention to the carb content, and closely monitor your blood sugar levels throughout the day. If you’re still uncertain how to juice safely on your diabetic diet, then speak with a healthcare professional who can advise you on what types of fruits and veggies to avoid, in addition to serving size and the best times of day to juice.