Best Juice Drinks for Type 2 Diabetes

For people with type 2 diabetes, nutrition is critical for their overall health. They have to watch what they eat for every meal and what they drink since both can critically impact their blood sugar levels and how they are feeling. 

If you are trying to manage your blood glucose levels, adopting a healthy eating plan may mean sacrificing some of the treats that aren't the best for people with diabetes. For instance, juice drinks are usually not recommended for individuals with type 2 diabetes because of their high sugar content. But that does not mean you cannot enjoy a nice glass of orange juice once in a while.  

This article will discuss why drinking juice may be harmful to those with type 2 diabetes, but we’ll also go over the best juice drinks for those with this condition. In the end, we’ll provide you with recipes and other healthy tips to ensure you are consuming the juice drinks safely.

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Is drinking juice a good idea for people with type 2 diabetes?

For people who do not have type 2 diabetes, having a glass of juice often does not get a second thought. However, for those with type 2 diabetes, this may not be the best idea. 

When a person has diabetes, it affects how their body can turn the food they consume into energy. For example, after you eat something, the food you consume will get broken down into sugar and released into the blood. As this blood sugar increases, it will signal the pancreas to release insulin, which can help blood sugar enter the cells to be used for energy. 

However, if you have diabetes, your body likely does not make enough insulin or cannot use the insulin it has to pull blood sugar into cells for energy. If blood glucose levels are not brought down to healthy levels, it leads to high blood sugar levels and other complications.

Fruits contain a good amount of fiber, which is a great nutrient as it slows down the glucose or sugar absorption rate from the gastrointestinal tract. However, when it comes to fruit juices, most of that fiber is removed during the process of juicing, leaving mostly the sugar, which, when consumed, can lead to a rapid and high spike in blood glucose level. 

While drinking juice will not cause issues for most, those with diabetes may not be able to consume this drink due to the potential risks that come with the fast increase of blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of drinking juice for type 2 diabetes?

Drinking juice is a favorite way for many to start their morning with. However, whether you have diabetes or not, juices should still be consumed sparingly. Fruit juices tend to be high in calories per serving, contain more sugar than is recommended for daily consumption, and lack fiber, which whole fruits provide.

So why do people continue to turn to a glass of juice when looking for a healthy snack? This is often because depending on the fruit juice, there are some benefits it can provide, and even those with type 2 diabetes may be able to reap some of these benefits. 

For example, fruit juice is an excellent source of vitamin C, which is a nutrient necessary for development, body tissue repair, and growth. It also helps form collagen and iron absorption and assists with the proper functioning of the immune system.

Studies¹ suggest that consuming vegetables and fruit juices have been linked to a lower incidence of numerous chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers, and neurodegenerative diseases. As a result, this research shows that the vascular system and heart can benefit from fruits and vegetable juices. 

This is also why many individuals decide to get these benefits through juices. It is often a faster and more compact way to meet their daily vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant recommendations that can significantly influence their health. 

For example,  one hundred percent fruit juicecontains bioactive compounds with antioxidant activity to improve antioxidant status and blood lipid levels. 

Yet, while a cup of orange juice can meet a person's daily intake of vitamin C, eating fruits and vegetables should still be the preferred method of reaching the desired intake of this nutrient, especially due to all the drawbacks of drinking juice. For instance, those with type 2 diabetes who consume too many juice drinks may deal with weight gain and hyperglycemia.

Hyperglycemia, which results from a rapid increase in blood sugar levels, can cause some serious conditions which could be fatal, including: 

1)  hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state leading to severe bodily dehydration, and

2) diabetic ketosis, which can lead to coma.

Chronic hyperglycemia can damage certain body parts, including the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and blood vessels. Damage to these blood vessels can also increase your risk of a stroke or a heart attack and delayed wound healing. 

If you are drinking juices, it is important to pay attention to symptoms of hyperglycemia which can include tiredness, blurred vision, increased thirst, dry mouth, and a general feeling of being unwell.

Juice options good for type 2 diabetes

Even though people with type 2 diabetes are often advised to choose low-calorie drinks with low sugar, they can also drink juices. Take, for instance, the following:

Fruit juice

While it is generally advised to avoid fruit juices due to the high sugar content, it is best to consume juices with lower sugar content if needed.

This means opting for 100% natural juices with 0 added sugars and avoiding fruit juices made from pineapple or mangos. These fruit juices often have a significant amount of sugar. Instead, stick with juices such as unsweetened lemon or grapefruit juice, which has a lower glycemic index than most other types of juices.

Vegetable juice

Juices made from fresh vegetables are often better for type 2 diabetes because they usually have a lower glycemic index and a high amount of antioxidants. 

Foods with a low glycemic index have been shown to control type 2 diabetes and aid with weight loss. As a result, for a healthy alternative, those with diabetes should try juices with kale and spinach, which are excellent at regulating blood sugar levels. 

What are the best juices for type 2 diabetes?

If grapefruit juice is not your top drink choice, there are still other juices that may be a good option for those with type 2 diabetes, including:

Tomato juice

Tomato juice is a great choice for those who have type 2 diabetes. It has been known to reduce the risk of blood clots, a common issue for those who have diabetes due to the associated risk of developing atherosclerosis and cardiovascular issues.

Pomegranate juice

This juice is rich in fiber, folate, and potassium and loaded with vitamin C. This juice is also loaded with specific types of antioxidants. Plus, because it has a low glycemic index, pomegranate juice is a good option for those with diabetes.  

Studies² have reported that they are beneficial in controlling diabetes and some of its complications.  

Carrot juice

Even though carrots have a sweet flavor, they can help manage blood glucose levels and, in moderation, won't spike blood sugar levels. 

Carrots also contain various minerals, vitamins, and carotenoids which can serve as an antioxidant and help the body. However, it’s important to limit the portion of this juice as despite having a low glycemic index, a 250gm serving of carrot juice will contain  23gm of carbs.

Must-try juice recipes

When it comes to drinking juice with diabetes, it is important to completely avoid buying the sugar-loaded store brand juices and instead make your own. Yet, before jumping into these recipes, you should consider the following:

  • Choose veggies and fruits low in sugar, such as berries, cucumbers, celery, avocados, and spinach.

  • Pay attention to your blood sugar levels, even if you make juices from vegetables and fruits with a low glycemic index.

  • Drink the juices in moderation.

Apple carrot juice recipe

Although this juice can be made in several ways, most recipes often call for the following:

  • 1 carrot

  • 1 lemon

  • 1 one-inch block of ginger or cinnamon based on your preference

  • Half cup of diced apples

Once you have gathered all the ingredients, all you will have to do is run them through a juicer for a delicious drink. 

Vegetable berry juice recipe

Another great juice blend to try includes taking a variety of vegetables, such as leafy vegetables, cucumbers, or celery, and combining them with different berries. This can provide you with a flavorful drink filled with vitamins and minerals. 

Make sure you keep track of the berries and count them as part of your carbohydrate total. 

Healthy tips for drinking juice

Although drinking juice can sometimes be a great way to get some vegetables and fruit into your diet, those with diabetes need to pay close attention to what is in these juices and how to consume them.

With the following healthy tips, you will have a better idea of how you can start incorporating juice into your diet even when you have type 2 diabetes. 

Choose diabetes-friendly low sugar drinks

Certain fruit juices are better than others because they will not lead to a massive sugar spike. If you go for a juice drink, stick to 100% pure ones with low natural sugar. Or, if possible, try to opt for a vegetable juice since fresh vegetables will often have a lower glycemic index. 

Drink juice with a meal

Another great way to drink a cup of juice is to have it with a meal. While drinking juice can create a blood sugar spike, pairing it with other foods, especially those containing high fiber, healthy fats, or protein, can help prevent it. 

Drink small amounts of juice

If you are craving a glass of juice, try to only have a small amount, between four and eight ounces. Keeping the amount low can prevent the juice from wreaking havoc on your blood sugar levels and serious consequences. 

Pay attention to the added sugar on the nutrition label

Another reason why it is often a better idea to drink your homemade juice is because store-bought juices often contain several extra ingredients and sweeteners, causing an already sugary drink to become that much sweeter. 

If you had to drink juice from the store for any reason, make sure to check the nutrition label and determine exactly what is in the juice. Pay special attention to the serving size, calories, and ingredients. 

Focus on non-starchy vegetables

Non-starchy vegetables are a few food groups that those with diabetes can eat to satisfy their appetites. These are full of minerals, fiber, vitamins, and phytochemicals. They also have fewer calories and carbohydrates, crucial for a healthy diet.

Some of the more common non-starchy vegetables that you may want to consider adding to your juices include:

  • Beets

  • Broccoli

  • Carrots

  • Cauliflower

  • Celery

  • Leeks

  • Cucumber

  • mushrooms

When should I see a dietician?

If you have diabetes, you will need to pay close attention to what you eat and drink. As a result, your doctor may recommend that you see a dietician.

A dietician can help you develop a healthy eating plan and answer questions about what foods to avoid and what foods are best to eat to keep your blood sugar levels under control. 

These professionals can create a plan that works best with your goals, lifestyle, and preferences. They can also make sure that you're aware of the portion sizes that work best for you, improve your eating habits, and make the most of the insulin your body makes or receives from medication. 

The lowdown

Individuals with diabetes often have different needs than others. While there are no specific rules for their diet, these individuals need to watch out for things, especially when managing their blood sugar, such as consuming a balanced diet, managing their intake of carbohydrates, and checking blood sugar levels regularly. 

However, these things should not stop individuals with type 2 diabetes from enjoying everything they love, including fruit juice. It just means that they need to ensure they drink their juices in moderation and keep track of how this sweet treat may impact their bodies.

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