• Ariel Warren, RDN, CDCES

Superfoods to Reduce Diabetic Complications & My Favorite Smoothie Recipe

Smoothies can be a delicious way for diabetics to quadruple their daily intake of antioxidants and with a single serving. Smoothies however are more easily absorbed into the blood stream which can cause trouble for those with a less functioning pancreas (AKA diabetics). Having trouble drinking smoothies? Check out my post *Exactly How to Drink Smoothies Without the BS Spike*. I've spent over 5 years perfecting this method, so check it out.

Also, if you are trying to become more motivated with your nutrition and fitness as a diabetic, join the "Getting Fit with T1D" FB Group. We love new members!

Smoothies can be tough on diabetics, but I drink them because of the rich antioxidant power from the berries, leafy greens and the endless ways to add powerful superfoods. Over the years of drinking smoothies, I have found my favorite superfoods that may significantly reduce oxidative stress caused from diabetes, increase my energy, and increase a diet of heart-healthy fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Below I have 2 diabetic smoothie recipes for you along with my exact list of my favorite superfoods, the quantities I use, and the research that shows possible benefits from these superfoods for diabetics. The smoothie recipes included in this post are...

1) Simple Green Smoothie

2) My FAVORITE Smoothie (recipe developed over 5 years of trial & error)

Before we get started, I understand that I use a LOT of superfoods. I have cautiously and skeptically chosen each and everyone of the superfoods listed below because of the level of antioxidants, detoxifying agents, and research that states they this superfood may possibly reduce complications brought on from chronic disease(s) (i.e. diabetes). Of course, I try my best to keep within my target HbA1c, but life happens, and consistent and perfect numbers do not always happen for me.

Below are 2 full smoothie recipe with links to the exact products that I use and love. I have chosen these products based on best quality for cost ratio.

Full Diabetic-Friendly Green Smoothie Recipes

1) Simple Green Smoothie Recipe

  • 1 cup Filtered Water

  • 1 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk (or any kind of low carb milk)

  • 1 cup Ice

  • 1 cup Frozen Leafy Greens

  • 1 cup Frozen Mixed Berries (raspberries & blackberries are best)

  • 1 scoop Flavored Protein Powder (I like Met RX Chocolate)

Total Carbs: ~30 grams (don't subtract for fiber)

2) My FAVORITE Smoothie (recipe developed over 5 years of trial & error)

Simple Smoothie + Peanut Flour + Stevia + Superfoods

Total Carbs: ~44 grams (don't subtract for fiber)

Adding Superfoods is a Process

NOTE: You do NOT need ALL of these superfoods. Even if you just have cinnamon, that's a great addition to increase your antioxidant power. It takes time to build up your collection, and you definitely don't have to have them all today.

Years of diabetes can cause a much higher risk of oxidation stress that may result in greater tissue damage and a higher rate of beta-cell death (2). Current research suggests that increased antioxidants treatment may suppress such diabetes-related complications (1, 2). This research is limited because it was conducted on rats, but the fact that in this study beta-cell death was reduced with antioxidant supplementation suggests that antioxidants may be beneficial for all diabetics who may have even slight tissue damage from elevated numbers (2).

If you want to know exactly WHY these superfoods can be helpful for you as a diabetic, keep reading... :D

Benefits Backed by Research Below

Spirulina -- This particular study shows that 3 months of taking Spirulina may not only help with weight loss, but may also improve blood pressure, and endothelial function which can be helpful for those with cardiovascular disease (3).

Cinnamon -- More research needs to be done, but cinnamon contains antihyperglycaemic properties which may reduce postprandial blood glucose levels. Meaning cinnamon could possibly help bring your blood sugar down faster after eating carbs (4).

Maca -- Maca may reduce psychological symptoms, such as anxiety and depression, and may help postmenopausal women with sexual dysfunction independent of estrogenic and androgenic activity (5).

Amla -- Amla, is known as one of the most highly concentrated antioxidant sources and is an excellent source of fiber. Amla powder is dried Indian gooseberries that may reduce the risk of heart disease by regulating the build-up of bad cholesterol. It is also known for possibly lowering cancer and inflammation risks by reducing cell damage in the body. As a side benefit, Amla is high in Vitamin C and other properties that may contribute to healthier skin and hair (6).

Cacao/Cocoa Powder -- Dark chocolate and cocoa enriched-polyphenol extracts may be beneficial by protecting the humban body against several disorders, cardiovascular disease, inflammatory processes, and cancer. Cocoa does this by decreasing the levels of LDL-cholesterol and its oxidation while increasing HDL-cholesterol. Cacao/cocoa also produce chemopreventive effects on other chronic diseases such as cancer by inhibiting the growth of various cancer cells, especially colon cancer (7).

Tumeric -- The highly sought after active component is Tumeric is Curcumin which is highly involved in treating diabetes and diabetic disorders, including liver disorders, adipocyte dysfunction, neuropathy, nephropathy, vascular diseases, pancreatic β cell dysfunction, and other complications (8).

Recent research has provided the scientific basis for “traditional” curcumin and confirmed the important role of curcumin in the prevention and treatment of diabetes and its associated disorders. Curcumin could favorably affect most of the leading aspects of diabetes, including insulin resistance, hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia, and beta cell (Figure 2). In addition, curcumin may prevent the deleterious complications of diabetes. Despite the potential tremendous benefits of this multifaceted nature product, results from clinical trials of curcumin are only available in using curcumin to treat diabetic nephropathy, microangiopathy and retinopathy so far (9).

Black Pepper -- A major component of black pepper is Piperine, which is known to inhibit hepatic and intestinal metabolism of substances. MEANING, Piperine allows for the liver to continue to metabolize substances such as Curcumin. Curcumin bioavailability was increased by 2,000% at 45 minutes after an individual took a curcumin substance with piperine (AKA Tumerc with black pepper). When the body is able to absorb more curumin and for longer, it is able to reap more benefits from the powerful antioxidant substance (10).

Ginger Root -- Through powder or the actual root. Statistics show that when a placebo group and a group who took ginger took the supplement for 3 months, ginger showed a average decrease in blood glucose, a drop of 0.75% in HbA1c, a decrease insulin resistance, and other advantages benefits when it comes to inflammation (11).

I do not drink smoothies everyday, but when I do, I use the superfoods I have on hand. Also note that eating a healthful diet of regular fiber-rich foods has natural antioxidants, and that you may not need any superfood supplementation. Taking these superfoods is a personal choice that may give me an increased advantage compared to someone in my similar situation. So guess what, if they are not going to hurt me, and there is thousands of studies that show possible benefits of taking them, I am going to include them in my diet.

Lastly, If you don't like smoothies or they are too difficult to manage with your diabetes, there are many creative ways to add such superfoods into your diet. Sign Up as a HapiBody member to get the next post that teaches you how to add superfoods with many creatives "non-smoothie" ways.

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As always, I'm here to help you if you are stuck at a plateau with your weight or nutrition-related goals, or just don't know how to get started as a diabetic, a dietitian, and your friend.

Know that I'm always available to answer general questions. If you'd like to more customized answers, meal plans, and/or workout routines, send me an email and we can set up a 30 min free consultation call. That way we can get to know each other, I can give you free advice, and we will figure out a game plan (and don't worry, zero obligations signing on as a client).

Know that I looking out for your best interest, and if I can't help you, I have access to hundreds of other specialized health professionals. I'm here for you and I sincerely care.

Your T1D Dietitian & friend,

Ariel Warren, RD, CD

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