In Loving Memory of Cher Lee
With a prevalence of over 30 million people with diabetes and 86 million people living with prediabetes in the United States(1), most of us will be affected by this disease, whether you have diabetes yourself or know of someone who has it. It is the 7th leading cause of death in the world, but if not kept in check can lead to even more devastating ailments, such as heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the world(2). I compiled a list of common fruits and vegetables you should include in your diet to help prevent diabetes.
1.) Carrots have a neutral thermal nature (read about the thermal nature of foods here) and sweet flavor (read about the five flavors of food here). It is a chi or (qi) tonic and benefits almost every organ system, but especially the liver, lungs, and stomach. It is a blood sugar stabilizer, treats indigestion associated with heartburn and increased stomach acid, and can prevent constipation. In addition, carrots are the most abundant source of beta-carotene, the pre-cursor of Vitamin A, which improves night vision and prevents cataracts.
Caution: Carrot juice is sweet and overconsumption may weaken kidneys. Don’t drink more than four cups of juice daily.
2) Sweet potatoes and yams have a cooling thermal nature, sweet flavor, and strengthen the spleen-pancreas and digestive system. It strengthens the kidneys and is also a good source of Vitamin A, with the darkest orange flesh colored yams having the highest amount of beta-carotene. They help stabilize blood sugar levels, like the carrot, but also improve our body’s response to insulin. It tonifies your chi, blood, and yin (read about the basics of yin and yang theory here).
Caution: Overeating sweet potato can lead to indigestion and abdominal swelling.
3) Artichokes have a sweet flavor and are an excellent source of inulin, reducing the body’s need for insulin. It is a blood and yin tonic, making them helpful in anemia, and also strengthen the liver and gallbladder. It contains the phytochemical cynarin, increasing bile production and aiding digestive diseases caused by inadequate fat assimilation. Cynarin also lowers blood cholesterol levels and improves blood-clotting time. Artichokes are also a good source of Vitamin C.
4) Asparagus have a slightly cooling thermal nature and bitter, mildly pungent flavor. It is good for the kidneys, lungs, and spleen. Asparagus clear excess heat, toxins, and water in your body, hence also making it a great diuretic since it has asparagine in it, which gives it its characteristic urine odor. Like artichokes, asparagus also contain inulin. It is also helpful in cardiovascular issues such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and arteriosclerosis.
Caution: Too much asparagus can also irritate the kidneys.
5) Green beans, or haricot vert have a neutral thermal nature with a sweet flavor, supporting the spleen and kidneys. They increase the yin of the body (e.g., fluids and hormones). They have diuretic properties and help treat diabetes. Fresh beans have Vitamin A, B-complex, calcium and potassium.
6) Pears have a cooling thermal nature with sweet and slightly sour flavor. It nourishes the lungs, eliminating mucus and can quench thirst. Pears have been used to treat diabetes, cough, and constipation.
Caution: Don’t eat pears when you feel internally cold or have diarrhea.
7) Purple plums are slightly cooling, while yellow plums are neutral. They have a sweet and sour flavor and support the bladder, liver, large intestine, stomach, and spleen. They are helpful in digestion, quench thirst, and relieve constipation and dehydration.
Caution: Eat with caution if you have sensitive digestion, stomach ulcers, or inflammation. They have a high content of oxalic acid, so eat in moderation to prevent depleting calcium in your body.
8) Coconuts have a warming thermal nature, sweet flavor, and eliminate wind (one of the external pathogenic factors that I will discuss later). It is hemostatic (stops bleeding) and strengthens the heart. It greatly quenches thirst and builds yin fluids in the body. It is helpful in eliminating edema from diabetes and heart problems. It is fairly high in iron, phosphorus, and zinc.
9) Lemons and limes have a cooling thermal nature and very sour flavor. It helps the liver and can increase bile formation, increase mineral absorption, promote weight loss, and treat high blood pressure. It increases fluid production in the body, thereby treating the fluid deficiency seen in cramps and diabetes. Lemons are high in Vitamin C, Vitamin B1, and potassium. I will have to dedicate a post to lemons and limes later because of its many healing properties.
Caution: Use with caution if you have too much stomach acid or ulcers.
10) Blueberries are cooling and support the lung, spleen, and stomach. They are an excellent antioxidant helping to slow cell deterioration. I included blueberries in this list because it supports eye function and protects against macular degeneration. Ocular issues are common sequelae seen in diabetics, a microvasular disease. Blueberries also nurture the kidney’s yin function, which is often depleted in diabetics.
Start eating more of these fruits and veggies!
In health and wellness,
(1) Current Diabetes Statistics
(2) World Health Organization (WHO) – The top 10 causes of death
Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford
The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia by Rebecca Wood
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