Three Hot Drinks to Keep Blood Sugar Down

Keeping one’s blood sugar level steady is imperative not only for diabetics but for the folks with a healthy metabolism as well. Stable blood sugar protects against excessive insulin spikes, the consequences of which we discussed earlier. Here are three hot drinks that can help stabilize blood glucose. They also are very helpful on fasting days as they help curb hunger.

Fair warning: while the benefits of these drinks have a reputation with a long history, studies confirming them, for the most part, are relatively recent and not necessarily conclusive.   

  1. Chicory Root

Ground roasted chicory root is sold in granules. Its taste is somewhat close to coffee, which explains why this drink is often recommended as a coffee substitute. A few recent studies confirm long-standing belief that chicory root can help decrease A1C and delay or prevent the early onset of diabetes mellitus. Main ingredient responsible for these benefits is inulin. There are more health benefits in this drink, particularly extra bile production helping liver and gallbladder health and digestive flora in the intestines.

The recipe for this drink is shamefully simple. Pour a hot water over a tablespoon of stuff and steep for about 5 minutes. I use a tea strainer for that:

Chicory root granules

 

  1. Cinnamon

This is a well-known and widely used supplement. Its ability to control blood sugar is still in question as studies show contradicting results. This meta-analysis comes to a favorable conclusion regarding cinnamon’s ability to lower fasting blood sugar. This study shows good results in lowering A1C. At the same time, this one did not find notable improvement. I guess, the jury is still out, but with many folks measuring their own reaction and reporting improvement, the least you can do is enjoy it as a spice with possible health benefits.

It has a rich history of use as both medicinal component and as a spice. Simply use a teaspoon of a powder per cup of boiling water; add a slice of lemon if the taste is too harsh for you.

Don’t go overboard with this supplement – one teaspoon a day is well within safe limits, while (much) higher quantities might contain too much Coumarin, an ingredient in commonly used in North America Cassia cinnamon, that has been identified as potentially hazardous in large amounts. While truly dangerous amounts are insanely high (above 3 kg a day!), I thought the inclusion of a warning was reasonable as some might have a heightened sensitivity to Coumarin.

 

  1. Yerba Mate

This one is a tad more involved; not being as widely known and used as previous two, it’s less readily available. It also requires a bit (not much but still) more effort than pouring water in a cup. However, if you like this drink, it may very well become your permanent companion as it did for many. While great many health benefits are attributed to it, particularly weight loss here and here, being interested in blood sugar in this post, let’s note this study ascribing decent improvement to Yerba Mate.

Unlike most teas, this one can be refilled multiple times, up to 10-12. Thanks to this, I like using it on fasting days when I tend to drink a lot. It’s also a good option for the day with extensive computer work, so you sip it throughout the day. It needs non-boiled water at the temperature no higher than ~160 – 170 F (~70 – 80 C). You don’t stir it either. In fact, the traditional technique of preparing this tea is quite elaborate. Before describing it, let me say that if you want a quick and convenient way, usual French press will do. If, however, you want to respect the rich tradition of this drink, you are going to need a specific drinking straw called bombilla. Of all the Yerba Mate teas I’ve tried, my favorite so far is Rosamonte.

Now to the way to prepare it. I’ll skip another traditional device – gourd – and show how to make it in a large cup.

  1. Fill the cup by 1/3 – ½. It’s way more tea than you would use normally, but remember, you are going to refill it multiple times, so it’s practically a drink for an entire day.
  2. Tilt the cup on its side and shake it lightly, so that tea falls on one side.
  3. Cover the tea with your hand and turn the cup carefully back on its bottom, so your hand helps the tea form a lopsided pile (on this image, tea leaves on the left side are reaching the cup’s bottom):

Yerba Mate

  1. Add some cold water to the empty space on the left, trying not to disturb the pile:

Yerba Mate

  1. Insert the bombilla in the empty space, reaching the bottom.
  2. Pour hot water in the empty space so it fills up the cup while leaving the top of the pile dry. This way, when you refill your cup, a fresh portion of tea will renew your drink’s taste.

Yerba Mate

7. Drink from the bombilla without stirring the tea.

8. Refill as needed, heating up water without boiling it, not stirring the tea and adding water to that same side.

Bonus suggestion: you don’t have to limit yourself to any of these drinks without trying their combination or various add-ons (well, except for a Yerba Mate – this one is better enjoyed on its own in my opinion). To give you some starting ideas:

  1. Try adding half-teaspoon of cinnamon in a cup of chicory root drink;
  2. Slice of lemon is great with any of them;
  3. The addition of some apple cider vinegar, a long-standing favorite among low-carb folks, is always something to test
  4. Be courageous and make a cup of chicory root with cinnamon with lemon with apple cider vinegar, add a pinch of sea salt, and if you like it – give it a name. Something like “Intrepid” seems to be fitting. What if you hate it? Hey, the adventure is always something to enjoy in and of itself!

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