If you have Type II diabetes, know that you don’t have to limit your fruit intake.
As I regularly report, eating fruit actually helps people with Type II diabetes improve their blood sugar control and lose weight. In fact, according to two new studies, a diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables works much better than the often-recommended low-carb diet without fruit.
While it’s true that fruit contains some natural sugar (called fructose), this type of sugar doesn’t cause the same metabolic problems as table sugar.
Plus, fruit contains dozens of healthy vitamins and phytochemicals, like bioflavonoids, carotenoids, and polyphenols. It also contains antioxidants, dietary fiber, and minerals — all which help foster optimal digestive, metabolic, and pancreatic health.
Altogether, the healthy constituents in fruit help:
- Balance your immune system
- Fight inflammation
- Lower blood lipids (fats)
- Lower blood pressure
- Lower blood sugar
- Prevent blood clots
- Support a healthy microbiome (the environment of healthy probiotic bacteria in your gut)
Clearly, eating fruit supports many different important functions in the body. Which makes perfect sense when you look at the big picture when it comes to diet and nutrition, as I do.
Plus, fruit has been on the planet for millions of years. So, it was already around when our metabolism evolved to benefit from eating it.
In my view, so-called expert proponents of the popular paleo or caveman diets miss the mark by strictly forbidding fruit consumption. In fact, it seems they prefer to drop the “gatherer” — as in nut, seed, and berry gatherer — from “hunter-gatherer” culture altogether.
But that’s a huge mistake, as many studies are now beginning to show.
Perhaps in a few years, the tide of popular opinion will once again swing back in favor of eating fruit thanks to some good, solid science.
Studies show fruit consumption improves blood sugar control
The first new study, led by researchers with Jiao Tong University in China, compared two different diets in people with Type II diabetes over 12 weeks.
The first group followed a standard low-carb, low-fat diet. The second group ate a high-fiber diet with fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and whole grains. In addition, participants in both groups took a drug called acarbose (also known by its brand name, Precose®), which blocks starch absorption.
By the end of 12 weeks, 89 of participants on the high-fiber diet with fruits, nuts, seeds, and vegetables showed better regulation of blood sugar. On the other hand, only 50 percent of the low-carb, low-fat group saw the same results. The high-fiber diet group also lost more weight and had better blood lipid (fat) levels.
Plus, it appears all these good results stemmed from changes made to the microbiome, the all-important environment in the gut where billions and billions of healthy bacteria thrive.
Eating fruit supports diversity of microbiome
The researchers found those who followed the high-fiber diet had increased amounts of 15 key strains of healthy probiotic gut bacteria. And this increase, in turn, boosted levels of two short-chain fatty acids in the gut known to reduce harmful bacteria and help control blood sugar.
So, it appears fruit — like other natural foods with fiber — goes to work right away in the microbiome to improve insulin response (rather than first being absorbed by the gut then being transported into the bloodstream).
Eating fruit not only improves insulin response. It also helps reduce harmful chronic inflammation — as another new study specifically on blueberries recently showed…
Dried blueberries improve overall gut health
In this second study, researchers investigated the effect of blueberries on gut bacteria in mice.
First, the researchers divided mice into three dietary groups:
- A straightforward high-fat diet (which included 40 percent calories from fat) for 8 weeks
- A high-fat diet plus blueberry powder
- A low-fat diet (which included 10 percent calories from fat)
At the end of eight weeks, the researchers measured glucose tolerance, microbiome composition, intestinal function, and chronic inflammation.
In the mice fed the high-fat diet with blueberry powder, the researchers observed:
- Significant improvements in the composition and diversity of the healthy probiotic bacteria in the gut
- Restored length of intestinal villus (the small, finger-like projections that line the intestines, improving digestion and absorption of nutrients)
- Decreased cellular markers associated with cancer
- Improved markers of insulin sensitivity and response
These findings remind me a lot of the first, broader study I mentioned.
In this case, blueberries clearly worked by changing the composition of the GI microbiome. And these changes, in turn, helped reduce chronic inflammation and improve insulin response.
Those are some pretty substantial benefits for a tiny berry!
A new approach for blood sugar problems
As I explained recently, pumping more insulin or insulin-like drugs into patients with Type II diabetes isn’t the answer to insulin-resistant Type II diabetes. The key is to improve insulin response. And it appears that eating fruit — and blueberries specifically — can significantly improve it!
Of course, eating blueberries also benefits short-term memory and long-term cognitive health. And this is likely from a reduction in chronic inflammation through the GI-blood-brain axis, as I explain in the May 2017 issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter (“The brain breakthrough you can grow right in your own backyard.”)
Don’t skimp on fruits. Instead, enjoy them year-round. And especially now, during the harvest season, look for ripe, local apples, pears, blueberries, and persimmons.
Also, I never recommend eating processed fruits or drinking sugar-laden fruit juice beverages.
Speaking of beverages though, there are ways to “drink” more fruit…
Simply add a twist of lemon, lime, or orange to filtered or mineral water. You can also try one of my favorite beverages by adding water-soluble blueberry powder to any beverage. Look for a dietary supplement or water-soluble powder containing 400 mg of blueberry extract.
P.S. I’m excited to announce that I’m putting the finishing touches on a blood sugar formula that combines the anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin, the fasting blood sugar-reducing benefits of ginger as well as the insulin-modulating effects of chromium and vanadium. Stay tuned right here in the coming weeks to get the latest on the release of this breakthrough solution!
“Gut bacteria selectively promoted by dietary fibers alleviate type 2 diabetes,” Science, 2018; 359 (6380): 1151
“Blueberry Supplementation Influences the Gut Microbiota, Inflammation, and Insulin Resistance in High-Fat-Diet–Fed Rats,” The Journal of Nutrition February 2018; 148 (2): 209–219