Lifestyle and other factors have led to surging numbers of people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, the most common type of diabetes.
In the United States alone, around 30.3 million Americans, or 9.4 percent of the population, had diabetes in 2015. A very small percentage of them were diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Each year, an estimated 1.5 million people are diagnosed with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association (1).
Diabetes is a health condition in which your body has elevated blood sugar levels. This can happen due to two things:
- In Type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin.
- In Type 2 diabetes, the body does not respond well to insulin.
Common factors that contribute to Type 2 diabetes include unhealthy eating habits, lack of exercise, genes, belonging to certain ethnic background and age.
When diagnosed with it, your whole life changes. There are several lifestyle changes that you may have to make to reduce your risk of diabetes-related complications like heart disease, blurred vision, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Depending on whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, you may either require oral medication, insulin shots or both.
With the right diet and enough exercise, diabetes can be prevented as well as controlled. When it comes to diet, one common ingredient that has always been in the news is bitter gourd.
Bitter Gourd and Diabetes
Bitter gourd, also known as bitter melon or bitter squash, has an antidiabetic property.
It contains three active compounds – polypeptide-p, vicine and charatin – that make it effective for managing blood sugar levels. These active compounds help the cells take up sugar molecules, increase insulin secretion, stimulate the liver and muscle glycogen synthesis, and reduce glucose absorption in the body.
According to a 2011 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, bitter melon had a modest hypoglycemic effect and significantly reduced fructosamine levels among patients with Type 2 diabetes who received 2,000 mg per day. However, the effect was less than the decline seen in those taking 1,000 mg per day of metformin (2).
A 2015 study published in the Egyptian Pharmaceutical Journal reports that bitter melon can be used as an effective oral adjunct hypoglycemic, with no reportable clinical side effects (3).
Again, a 2017 study published in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine shows the significance of hypoglycemic effects of bitter gourd and Knol khol juices among Type 2 diabetic patients (4).
Despite knowing that bitter gourd is beneficial for diabetes, many people find its bitter taste unpalatable. But you can still reap its benefits by mixing it with other ingredients.
You can try some bitter gourd juice recipes, where the taste of bitter gourd can be made more tolerable with the flavors of other diabetic-friendly vegetables and fruits.
For instance, we will be using cucumbers, green apples, lemon juice and turmeric powder in our juice recipes.
Cucumbers have a glycemic index rating of 0, which means diabetic people can eat them freely without worrying about their blood sugar. This water-rich vegetable has a special hormone that the pancreas utilizes to produce insulin, which in turn helps the cells convert carbohydrates into energy.
A 2016 study published in BioImpacts concluded that cucumber has protective effects against diabetes complications and can be considered a safe and suitable candidate for decreasing the oxidative stress and carbonyl stress that is typically observed in diabetes mellitus (5).
Green apples are crunchy and juicy, and a healthy fruit that diabetic people can eat (6).
Apples are high in soluble fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants that benefit the body in many ways. Also, they contain pectin that helps detoxify the body and remove harmful waste.
Another ingredient we used is lemon juice, which is good for diabetic people due to the vitamin C and soluble fiber in it.
A 2014 study published in Advances in Nutrition reports the positive effect of citrus flavonoids, naringin and naringenin on metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that includes insulin-resistant diabetes (7).
Turmeric powder is also beneficial, due to its anti-inflammatory compound called curcumin.
Here are two different bitter gourd juice recipes for people who have diabetes.
Note: You may pass the juice through a sieve or strainer if you cannot process high-fiber foods. Also, check your blood sugar level before and after drinking the juice to make sure it suits your body.
1. DIY Bitter Gourd and Cucumber Juice
This simple and easy-to-make juice is slightly sweet and bitter in taste.
Things you’ll need:
- 2 large bitter gourds
- 1 medium cucumber
- ½ of a lemon
- 1 green apple
- ½ teaspoon of salt (optional)