If you’re watching your blood sugar, you already know the tried and true advice: cut out added sugars, lose a little weight and get some regular exercise.
But chances are no matter how hard you’re working to keep your numbers in line you don’t spare a thought for your pancreas. And that’s a shame because while those other approaches are the gold standard for a reason (hint, they DO help), they’re still only part of the picture.
If you want to balance blood sugar, and keep it under control, it’s time to pay more attention to the organ responsible for regulating it.
Because your sluggish pancreas could be the one thing standing in the way of the numbers you want. And giving it a little nudge by eating certain specific foods could be the final piece of the puzzle you’ve been looking for.
More on those foods in a moment. First, let’s take a quick look at the pancreas.
Balance blood sugar with these pancreas partners
The pancreas has two main roles:
- working with the liver to make enzymes which break down food for digestion
- producing insulin to maintain healthy blood sugar levels
Which means when your pancreas is working properly it helps digest your food so you get the nutrients you need. Plus it keeps your blood sugar on an even keel, preventing both spikes and crashes.
In other words, a lazy pancreas can have serious consequences for your health.
Following are the five best pancreas-stimulating superfoods to balance blood sugar.
1. White beans:
White beans are the ultimate superfood in disguise. Sure, they don’t seem very impressive at first glance. But the humble legume has earned the title.
The white bean is brimming with good-for-you nutrients including magnesium, which could help balance blood sugar. Magnesium helps relax muscle cells reducing insulin resistance. And diets high in magnesium are associated with a lower risk of diabetes.
The white bean is packed full of pancreas-supporting protein too, which helps balance out the fats in your diet. In fact, a single cup of the most common beans—including white, black, kidney, pinto and garbanzos—have an average of 15 grams of lean mean protein, and very little fat.
Plus white beans, like all legumes, are high in fiber. Which means they partner with your pancreas to support healthy digestion and balance blood sugar.
With a winning combo of protein, fiber and slow-digesting carbs white beans are low on the glycemic index as well. That means they help keep your blood sugar steady, to ward of dips and spikes.
Running low on antioxidants can be a sign of a sluggish, damaged pancreas. But loading up on antioxidant rich foods, such as delicious blueberries, can help.
Antioxidants help combat free-radical damage and oxidative stress in the body. Which means they can help protect your pancreas against damage while they promote healing.
Plus research has found blueberries improve insulin sensitivity. In one study, nearly 70 percent of folks eating blueberry smoothies had significant improvements in their insulin resistance. And experts say the anthocyanins in blueberries can fight pancreatic tissue death and insulin resistance.
3. Tart cherries:
Like blueberries, tart cherries are loaded with pancreas-friendly antioxidants. And their anthocyanin content means they too help protect your pancreas while battling insulin resistance.
In at least two different studies, the anthocyanin in tart cherries boosted insulin production in sluggish pancreas cells by up to 50 percent. Which means including tart cherries in your diet could help balance blood sugar.
Lemons are swimming in oxidation fighting antioxidants, which protect your pancreas. And their high vitamin C content can help combat inflammation in your pancreas, which left unchecked can eventually lead to tissue damage.
Research has found lemon juice can help lower blood sugar after eating, slowing the absorption of glucose. And according to Harvard Medical School, eating lemon juice with other foods can lower their glycemic index, helping to balance blood sugar.
And the lemon’s peel is packed with insulin-resistant fighting polyphenols. So be sure to zest your lemons for extra blood sugar protection.
The exotic, golden-yellow spice turmeric provides two layers of protection for your pancreas.
Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory. Which means it helps fight the kind of chronic pancreatic inflammation that causes damage to insulin producing cells. And the ongoing inflammation that eventually can lead to diabetes.
In a lab study curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, significantly reduced inflammation driven injury to the pancreas.
And new research has found that curcumin could also be beneficial in fighting deadly pancreatic cancer. In one study, a patient had a temporary 73 percent reduction in tumors when taking curcumin. And another volunteer had slow and steady improvements over time while on the spice.
Aim for a tablespoon of turmeric a day. Sprinkle it over salads, soups or nuts. Or sip on some turmeric tea.
You’re putting up a good fight in your battle to balance blood sugar. Let these pancreas-stimulating superfoods help you win the fight.