Type 2 diabetes is when the body can’t produce enough insulin, or isn’t able to properly use the insulin it does make, which can eventually lead to a host of health complications like inflammation, weight gain, kidney and heart problems, high blood pressure, eye damage and more. Fortunately, there are a number of nutritional powerhouse foods that you can include in your diet to help! Here are five of my favourites.
1. Eat Green Things.
Include foods in your diet that are rich in chlorophyl, particularly green vegetables. Foods rich in chlorophyl include spinach, spirulina, and wheat or barley grass (grasses to be consumed only if not gluten sensitive).
Healing Powers: Greens maximize mineral absorption and aids in cell renewal, which can help re-build the pancreas. Research shows that green veggies such as dark leafy greens and broccoli are associated with lower HbA1c levels – a metric that is important for diabetics to keep low.
How to use: Add spinach, spirulina and wheat grasses to smoothies. Eat salads with dark leafy greens as the base, or make a lovely side dish of broccoli or roasted broccoli with a touch of olive oil and your favorite seasoning.
2. Consume Beans and Legumes.
“Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart…” We’ve heard that old refrain before, right? Beans such as chickpeas and kidney beans are high in antioxidants, dietary fiber and a whole host of other minerals which are good for you, such as iron and zinc.
Healing Powers: Since beans are high in fibre, they slow the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream, which keeps our blood sugar balanced.
How to use: Sprinkle beans on salads or make your own hummus by using your food processor. You can also make a delicious bean salad: add 2 cups cooked beans (or 15.5 oz. BPA-free can) to a bowl, then toss with 2 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp. sea salt, 1 small minced or pressed garlic clove, 1 Tbsp curry powder, 1 Tbsp. of tahini and some water to thin if needed. Season to taste.
3. Go Nuts.
Take your pick – walnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and more.
Healing Powers: Nuts and seeds have anti-inflammatory effects on the body, plus they are full of beneficial fats that balance our blood sugar, which helps prevent the development of insulin resistance.
How to use: Add nuts and seeds to your salads and smoothies, or make your own trail mix. Make sure to use raw nuts and seeds and store in an air-tight glass jar in the refrigerator.
4. Add Herbs & Spices and Everything Nice.
Herbs such as dandelion root, cider berries, and spices such as cinnamon are great for people with diabetes.
Healing Powers: Herbs such as these help cleanse and heal the pancreas and spices such as cinnamon actually help balance our blood sugar.
How to use: Use in smoothies or infuse into warm water for tea. Dandy Blend is also a great herbal beverage to try!
5. Get Citrus-y.
Citrus fruits such as oranges, tangerines and lemons are important foods for people with diabetes to consume.
Healing Powers: Compounds in these fruits, called naringin and neohesperidin, appear to reduce blood sugar levels and increase the uptake of glucose among cells.
How to use: Squeeze lemon in warm water, scatter orange slices on leafy green salads for some added sweetness, or use when making fresh juices.