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Tea, Blood Sugar Levels and Your Health

November 24, 2021
Written by
Team NutriSense
Reviewed by

Want to start your day with a strong cup of English Breakfast and end it with soothing chamomile? If you’re the sort of person who reaches for a cup of tea when you’re looking for your caffeine kick, you’re not alone. One of the most widely drunk beverages, tea is also one of the oldest prepared drinks in history. While several stories surround its origin, one of the most popular ones places the discovery of tea in China, as far back as 2737 BC.

Now, tea consumption is as ubiquitous as water in many parts of the world. Black, green, white, oolong—you know there’s a variety of tea, but there’s so much more to the popular beverage. For example, do you know that tea comes from the Camellia sinensis, also known as the tea plant or tea shrub? It teems over with white blossoms in the autumn, but when it comes to the aromatic drink we know and love, it’s the leaves that you want to focus on. 

Why are we going on and on about tea? Well, it has a stimulating effect on us, thanks to its caffeine content. And as you already know, caffeine can affect things like your blood sugar levels, so there’s likely to be a link with tea as well. Are you curious to see what effect the different types of tea have on your health and whether there’s a connection with high blood sugar, prediabetes, or diabetes? Read on to find out!

A Note About the Caffeine, or Theine, in Tea

If you haven’t already, you can read more about caffeine and blood glucose in our article about coffee. Let’s spend a minute on it before we dive into the different types of tea. Some studies suggest that long-term consumption of caffeine can improve glucose responses over time. Studies show that caffeine may also improve your mood when you’re sleep-deprived, which may not surprise you if you depend on caffeine to kickstart your day! 

But, what’s theine? Caffeine is often called theine when it’s in tea. And there’s some confusion about whether it’s the same or two different things. There are many nuances, but it is, in fact, more or less the same molecule. They were discovered at different times and so give different names. Something to note is that coffee has more caffeine content than tea, and the tannins in tea also help slow down the absorption of theine in your blood. Of course, this varies according to serving size, how sensitive you are to caffeine, and the type of tea or coffee you pick. Tea also contains polyphenols and theanine, an amino acid that can reduce stress.

Of course, we also know that everyone responds differently when eating different foods, and drinking tea is no different. So, the effects on your system may differ from someone else’s. Although theine releases slower, some people may be more sensitive to tea and some to coffee. There’s still so much ongoing research that you can’t say for sure how one will react over the other. An excellent way to see your reaction to tea may be by using a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to track and monitor your body’s individual response to it.

Is Tea Good for Diabetes?

Various health benefits come up when you talk about tea. This is thanks in part to its antioxidant and amino acid content as well as its perceived ability to assist with anxiety, boost immunity, help with hydration, and reduce inflammation. Studies also show links between tea and diabetes management, with some focusing on the anti-diabetic effects of tea. Although there’s no one-size-fits-all for diabetes management (and research is still ongoing), some studies show that tea may help with blood sugar control. And there are some links between consuming tea and a lower risk of type 2 diabetes too. Of course, various factors come into play here. The type of tea you drink and what you add into it (like sugar, honey, milk, and so on) can also make a difference. Again, the best way to figure out how your body responds to tea is to experiment with it yourself. Consider working with a registered dietitian who may be able to help you figure out what your responses to tea are and how to optimize your health accordingly. 

Tea and Glycemic Indexes

Because there are so many different types of tea, it’s not easy to talk about glycemic indexes in relation to it. For example, when you drink black tea, you can assume its glycemic index is zero. This is because there are no significant sources of carbohydrates or other sources of energy in it. But not everyone is drinking black tea. The fats, proteins, and lactose from milk (which can be broken down to glucose and galactose) have a slightly higher index. The real issue can be the added sugar, quickly absorbed into your blood when it’s dissolved in liquid. 

Since people add different amounts of milk and sugar to their tea, a single glycemic index value is impossible. Still, it’s safe to say that options like bubble tea and sweet tea can have glycemic index values upwards of 50 thanks to the added sugars and tapioca pearls. When it comes to what’s best for you, it’s better to find out how the tea you drink responds to your body instead of looking at just facts and figures here. 

The Types of Tea and Their Health Benefits

The interesting thing about tea is that there are so many different types. There’s the more common black tea and green tea, and then there’s everything from white and oolong to rooibos and hibiscus. Certain types of tea have anti-inflammatory properties, may lower blood sugar, or help with insulin sensitivity. But first, you need to know that there are two main types of tea: true teas and herbal teas.

True teas come from the evergreen tea plant, while herbal teas (also called tisanes) can be caffeine-free and are made with spices, flowers, and herbs. Sometimes these herbal teas are made with true tea infusions, which is how you get caffeinated versions like peach oolong tea, for example. While we can’t go through every single type of tea there is, here’s what you need to know about a few of the most beneficial types:

Green Tea

When you’re talking about health benefits, one of the most popular types of tea is green tea. Harvested tea leaves are quickly heated and then just as quickly dried, which means they’re less oxidized than black tea. Because of this, it has a milder flavor than black tea. The trade-off is that green tea has a slightly shorter shelf life. But it’s also naturally less bitter and has a smoother taste overall. So, it may be easier to drink it without milk and sugar, making it slightly easier to make this a ‘healthier’ option.

The Research: So, what are the effects of green tea on your health? Can a cup of green tea a day keep the doctor away? With a high amount of antioxidants, it could help with everything from preventing diabetes to aiding weight loss, as some studies suggest! Some people also see lower blood glucose levels and better blood sugar control because of a compound in green tea called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).

This sounds complicated, but what you need to know is that it’s a type of catechin that may play a role in reducing your risk factors for things like type 2 diabetes and obesity. The link with obesity may explain why people with weight loss goals often look to this drink for a bit of help. Research also found some beneficial effects on oxidative stress. Green tea may also have some impact on reducing fasting blood sugar levels among people with and without diabetes. 

Black Tea

A strong cup of black tea is a pretty good way to start the day for tea lovers. Often thought of as the ‘original’ type of tea, this is a true tea made from the leaves of the tea shrub. The leaves are air-blown, cut, and then oxidized till they’re brownish-black. Black tea has a more robust flavor than some other teas and a longer shelf life as well. With some of the highest theine levels, it may also have significant responses to short-term and long-term blood glucose levels.

The Research: Green tea may get all the attention, but black tea has its fair share of benefits. It has more caffeine than most other types of tea, and there’s some evidence that the other molecules in tea can help control blood sugar levels. It also has some anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Drinking black tea may help with some diabetes prevention, including type 2 diabetes. And a study even found that consuming black tea may affect your postprandial blood glucose levels. While the results are inconsistent here, there are also links between tea consumption and reduced risk factors for cancer.

Oolong Tea

Another type of true tea is oolong, a pretty popular tea made from the same tea plant as black, green, and white tea. The difference is in the process that goes into making oolong tea. Here, the leaves are wilted in the sun, then partially oxidized. It’s a sort of middle ground between green and black tea and as popular as green tea with fruit and herb infusions (fruits infusions like peach oolong and pomegranate oolong are some popular types).

The Research: Like with other types of true tea, the L-theanine in oolong tea can help with things like stress, anxiety, and brain activity. And it may also help prevent and manage diabetes in some people. There are also links with an improvement in blood sugar and some interesting connections with weight loss

White Tea

Perhaps the least popular type, this is also the least processed type of tea. The leaves and buds are picked before they’re fully open, giving white tea the mildest, most delicate flavor. It also may be more expensive than other types of tea and sometimes seen as the tea that’s packed with the most benefits.

The Research: White tea contains the most antioxidants because it’s the least processed type of tea. It’s often brought up as a potential beverage to help prevent cardiovascular disease, aid weight loss, and give you healthier skin. But is any of this true? We know that it can have potential anti-inflammatory properties, help with cholesterol, and prevent heart disease in some. And, what about insulin resistance? Some studies show that the polyphenol flavonoids in white tea may help lower your risk of insulin resistance by reducing glucose concentrations. And while research is still ongoing for this one, some animal studies suggest there may be a link with conditions like osteoporosis too.

Rooibos Tea

A type of herbal tea or tisane, rooibos, is made from the fermented leaves of a South African shrub. It’s usually caffeine-free unless it’s part of an infusion with black, green, or white tea. Some studies show that if you’re taking diabetes medication, it may slow down the liver enzymes that metabolize drugs like metformin. Still, it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional here. If you’re sensitive to caffeine and want an alternative with lower tannin levels, this may be a good option for you to try out.

The Research: In some animal models and cell lines, it’s shown to have a potential protective effect against developing type 2 diabetes. The active compound in rooibos is aspalathin (ASP), which has shown some potential to have anti-diabetic properties. Although research is still ongoing, the antioxidants in rooibos tea may help with everything from heart disease to cell protection. While animal studies show some links to diabetes prevention, there’s not yet enough research there.

Hibiscus Tea

Have you ever tried hibiscus tea? Made with the tropical hibiscus plant, this is a tart tea that’s something of an acquired flavor even for the most dedicated tea drinkers. It’s an infusion that you’ll find served hot and cold, sometimes with added sugar to cut out the tart taste (although if you like cranberries, you may not need the sugar!). It’s thought to have the highest level of antioxidants compared to any other type of tea. Like any herbal tea, remember not to over-consume it in a bid to make the most of any benefits it may have for some people.

The Research: Some studies show that it may help lower blood pressure, while others show links with weight loss. Some research also indicates that it may moderate insulin resistance in some models of induced metabolic syndrome. Of course, we need to take animal studies with a grain of salt, but it’s interesting enough to keep an eye on.

Chamomile Tea

Love drinking a cup of chamomile tea right before bed? If you know anything about chamomile tea already, it’s because of its increasing popularity as a good bedtime beverage. Made with dried chamomile flowers, this caffeine-free tea is usually safe to consume if you’re not allergic to the flower. If you’re pregnant, you may want to check with your doctor to avoid any complications.

The Research: Chamomile is in everything from skincare products to beverages, but research on its benefits is still ongoing. Still, it can help some people with anxiety and produce relaxing effects that help promote good sleep. Some research suggests improved antioxidant levels and glycemic indices, which means it’s a tea to watch as the research continues.

While these are some types of tea to think about, there are so many more. Ginger tea, for example, may be one to watch. This is because ginger can have beneficial effects like glycemic control for people with diabetes and helping with nauseaPeppermint tea may lower stress levels and help with high blood pressure, and cinnamon tea could help lower blood sugar levels. Turmeric tea, full of the many benefits of curcumin, could also improve insulin sensitivity. Curcumin is the primary bioactive compound in turmeric, and it requires black pepper to be absorbed efficiently. 

None of this means that tea is a magic drug that can solve all your health problems. Still, it’s interesting enough to warrant some experimentation. So, what type of tea is best for you? Test out some different varieties and see for yourself! 

Personalize your Diet and Optimize Your Health with NutriSense

Ready to see how your body reacts to different types of tea? Start tracking and monitoring your blood glucose levels with a CGM so you can begin to personalize your diet and optimize your health. While people with diabetes have been using CGMs for years, the CDC recommends checking glucose levels even if you’re not showing symptoms.

Now, anyone can get a CGM with NutriSense, which offers the same technology for the public for the first time. And the best part is you can use their monitors with an innovative app that tracks your blood glucose levels in real-time. There’s also a team of registered dietitians that help you read and understand the data.

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Kara Collier Talks Continuous Glucose Monitors, Average Blood Sugar Levels and More
Kara Collier Talks Continuous Glucose Monitors, Average Blood Sugar Levels and More

On episode #130 of the Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast, Kara Collier, co-founder of NutriSense, talks continuous glucose monitors, average blood sugar levels, interpreting glucose spikes, food combination experimentation, cold therapy, and much more.

Podcast
38
min
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How a Continuous Glucose Monitor Could Help Menopause Weight Loss
How a Continuous Glucose Monitor Could Help Menopause Weight Loss

Catherine is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with NutriSense. On this episode, she discusses what a continuous glucose monitor is, why it's important for women's health and what the data can show midlife women.

Story
12
min
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Breaking Down CGMs, How They Work, and Their Accuracy
Breaking Down CGMs, How They Work, and Their Accuracy

If you want to make the most of your CGM, it's helpful to know how to use it correctly. This involves learning more about what the device is, how to calibrate it if you ever need to, and what precision and accuracy mean in regards to it. Read on to learn more. 

Story
6
min
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​​Springtime Sniffles: Causes and Prevention Tips for Your Seasonal Allergies
​​Springtime Sniffles: Causes and Prevention Tips for Your Seasonal Allergies

If you're one of the millions of Americans who suffer from seasonal allergies, you know how important it is to find ways to make yourself feel more comfortable during this time of year. Read more about springtime allergies and what you can do to manage them.

Story
6
min
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Preparing for a Healthy Ramadan
Preparing for a Healthy Ramadan

From April 2 to May 2, people worldwide observe Ramadan, a time of fasting and spiritual reflection. Learn more about the traditions, and how to healthily break a fast during this holy month with tips from one of our dietitians.

Story
6
min
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Obesogens: What Are They and Do They Affect Blood Glucose and Weight Gain?
Obesogens: What Are They and Do They Affect Blood Glucose and Weight Gain?

Obesogens are in everything, from the products we use and the food we eat, to the air we breathe! Learn more about what these endocrine-disrupting chemicals are and how you can avoid exposure to them.

Story
11
min
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Pairing Your Food: Are there Good and Bad Combinations?
Pairing Your Food: Are there Good and Bad Combinations?

Are eggs and beans bad for you? Should you forgo the fruit juice with your cereal at breakfast? The NutriSense Nutrition Team tells you more about how healthy some common food pairings are for you.

Story
8
min
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Eating for Endurance
Eating for Endurance

Learn everything you need to know about eating if you are an endurance athlete.

Story
12
min
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A Closer Look at Heart Rate Variability
A Closer Look at Heart Rate Variability

Heart rate variability is the variation in time between your heartbeats. Learn more about it, why tracking your trends matters and how it can give you insights into your fitness, stress, diet, and overall health.

Story
8
min
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Living with Autoimmune Conditions: Multiple Sclerosis
Living with Autoimmune Conditions: Multiple Sclerosis

Living with an autoimmune condition can be challenging. Continuing our series on these conditions, learn more about detecting, treating, and managing Multiple Sclerosis.

Story
6
min
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Reading Nutrition Facts Labels Like a Pro: Dietitian Tips and Tricks
Reading Nutrition Facts Labels Like a Pro: Dietitian Tips and Tricks

When you're looking to buy a specific food product, the nutrition facts label can help you make informed choices about the foods you eat. Our dietitians put some tips together on what to look for on nutrition labels to make the best choices for your health.

Podcast
46
min
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FUELED | Wellness + Nutrition with Molly Kimball
FUELED | Wellness + Nutrition with Molly Kimball

Molly Downey, RDN, LDN, nutrition manager at NutriSense, delves into all things glucose and wellness, and how devices like these can inform us about our health, on this episode of FUELED with Molly Kimball.

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8
min
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Are Sardines Good for Your Health?
Are Sardines Good for Your Health?

Sardines are small, but they pack a big nutritional punch! Learn more about the health benefits associated with eating them and check out some fun facts about this flavorful, nutrient-dense food.

Story
9
min
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9 Essential Ways to Track Your Fitness (That Don’t Involve a Scale)
9 Essential Ways to Track Your Fitness (That Don’t Involve a Scale)

Most fitness tracking metrics involve stepping on the scale, but they don't always have to! Here are nine other ways to track your fitness.

Story
14
min
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Foods You Should Avoid Eating If You Have Prediabetes
Foods You Should Avoid Eating If You Have Prediabetes

There are many food items that can worsen the effects of prediabetes. Here are some foods you should avoid or limit your intake of throughout your day.

Story
11
min
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How Many Meals Should You Eat in a Day?
How Many Meals Should You Eat in a Day?

What's the perfect time to eat, and how many meals should you eat in a day? Explore how eating at different times and frequencies each day impacts your body and blood glucose.

Story
6
min
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NutriSense Dietitians Recommend: Glucose-Friendly Apple Cider Vinegar Drinks
NutriSense Dietitians Recommend: Glucose-Friendly Apple Cider Vinegar Drinks

Looking for a way to add apple cider vinegar into your diet? Start with some of these delicious glucose-friendly ACV drinks, recommended by our Nutrition Team.

Story
8
min
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Benefits of Walking After Eating: From Regulating Blood Sugar To Lowering Blood Pressure 
Benefits of Walking After Eating: From Regulating Blood Sugar To Lowering Blood Pressure 

Find out how taking a walk after your next meal can benefit various aspects of your health, including your blood glucose levels.

Podcast
55
min
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I Think, I Can—Using Technology as a Window Into Your Physiology
I Think, I Can—Using Technology as a Window Into Your Physiology

Molly explains how using a continuous glucose monitor is what personalized health care means. If you want to fine-tune your health, tune in to this special episode of I Think, I Can.

Podcast
10
min
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My Day | My Life: Nutritionist Carlee Hayes' Canine Cuddles
My Day | My Life: Nutritionist Carlee Hayes' Canine Cuddles

My Day | My Life explores the lives of people who have, in one way or another, mastered the art of aging. In this episode, meet Carlee Hayes, dietitian and Nutrition Manager at NutriSense.

Story
9
min
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Common Workout Injuries and How to Prevent Them
Common Workout Injuries and How to Prevent Them

Worried about getting injured during your next workout? Learn about the most common workout injuries, how they can affect blood glucose levels, and some tips to help you prevent them.

Story
6
min
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Eat with NutriSense This St. Patrick's Day
Eat with NutriSense This St. Patrick's Day

Would eating the same meal, at the same time, have the same blood glucose response for three different people? See what our team found out after sampling a delicious corned beef and cabbage dish in preparation for St. Patrick's Day!

Story
7
min
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Build Healthy Habits During Lent
Build Healthy Habits During Lent

Do you know what you're giving up for Lent this year? For those who observe it, this can be a good time to give up bad habits, and add healthy ones into your routine! Read on to find out more about how to build healthy habits this season.

Story
11
min
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Do You Know How Healthy Your Breakfast Cereal Is?
Do You Know How Healthy Your Breakfast Cereal Is?

Cereal is one of the most popular breakfast foods out there—but how healthy is it, really? Review the nutritional content of some popular breakfast cereals, and learn how to choose a healthy option for your individual needs.

Story
9
min
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Obesity: What You Should Know and Some New Research on the Condition
Obesity: What You Should Know and Some New Research on the Condition

Did you know that more than two in five adults have obesity? Find out more about the pressing public health issue, review some new research that is shedding light on the condition, and learn how to diagnose and treat it.

Story
7
min
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Tips for a Healthy, Happy Purim
Tips for a Healthy, Happy Purim

Purim, a joyous occasion celebrated around March or April every year, is just around the corner! Read on to learn more about the holiday and the delicious foods that accompany it.

Story
9
min
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Vinegar and Blood Sugar: Does It Lower It?
Vinegar and Blood Sugar: Does It Lower It?

Read on to find out what impact, if any, vinegar really has on our body’s ability to balance blood sugar.

Story
8
min
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Meal Frequency and Insulin Sensitivity: How Many Times Should You be Eating in a Day?
Meal Frequency and Insulin Sensitivity: How Many Times Should You be Eating in a Day?

If you have insulin sensitivity, is eating two large meals a day or three to five smaller meals better? Find out more about the relationship between meal frequency and insulin sensitivity, and how many times you should be eating in a day.

Story
9
min
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Understanding the Causes and Symptoms of Endometriosis
Understanding the Causes and Symptoms of Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a common yet often ignored condition. Learn more about the symptoms to watch out for, how you can seek treatment, and read first-hand accounts from two women who have dealt with endometriosis.

Story
8
min
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The Benefits and Risks of Popular Ayurvedic Herbs and Spices
The Benefits and Risks of Popular Ayurvedic Herbs and Spices

Ayurveda is an ancient Indian holistic healing system that dates back over 5,000 years. In the second installment of our series on the practice, review the benefits and risks associated with popular Ayurvedic herbs and spices.

Story
7
min
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Can Eating Pizza Raise Your Blood Glucose Levels?
Can Eating Pizza Raise Your Blood Glucose Levels?

Pizza can be challenging to enjoy eating without worrying about how it affects your health. But while it may be indulgent, it is possible to prepare or order it in a way that won’t wreak havoc on your health or blood sugar levels. Read on to find out more!

Story
8
min
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Do Artificial Sweeteners Raise Insulin Levels?
Do Artificial Sweeteners Raise Insulin Levels?

Review our post on the impacts artificial sweeteners have on blood glucose, insulin, and other areas of your personal health.

Story
8
min
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What Research Says About Sleep and Blood Sugar Levels
What Research Says About Sleep and Blood Sugar Levels

Recent research has shown that sleep and blood glucose are intricately connected. Read on to learn more about what this means for your blood sugar levels and overall health.

Story
8
min
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Understanding the Relationship Between Menopause and Metabolic Health
Understanding the Relationship Between Menopause and Metabolic Health

Did you know that menopause can affect your metabolic health, and vice versa? Read on to understand the relationship between metabolic health and menopause, and how to manage metabolic health during your menopausal journey. 

Podcast
57
min
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How a Continuous Blood Sugar Monitor Can Help You Find Your Perfect Diet
How a Continuous Blood Sugar Monitor Can Help You Find Your Perfect Diet

In this episode learn the truth about how we react to certain foods in regards to our blood sugar response and how you can tailor your diet according to your CGM results.

Podcast
66
min
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All About Blood Sugar With Molly Downey, RDN
All About Blood Sugar With Molly Downey, RDN

This week, dive into how to eat your carbs and manage your blood sugar, too with Molly Downey, RDN, LDN.

Story
8
min
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A NutriSense Dietitian's Favorite Kitchen Staples
A NutriSense Dietitian's Favorite Kitchen Staples

Food can be fun, pleasurable, and nutritious all at the same time. Read on to learn more about the two nutrient-dense kitchen staples one of our dietitians swears by to help optimize her health!

Story
10
min
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10 Tastiest Nutrient-Dense Foods From Around the World
10 Tastiest Nutrient-Dense Foods From Around the World

Instead of the type or amount of food you eat, you should focus on the amount of nutrients you're adding to every meal. Here are some of our favorite nutrient-dense foods from around the world to help you get started.

Story
7
min
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Do Pineapples Raise Blood Sugar Levels?
Do Pineapples Raise Blood Sugar Levels?

Learn everything you need to know about pineapples, your health, and your blood glucose levels, and see how our dietitians like to eat the sweet, tropical fruit. 

Story
14
min
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Setting Up The Right Diet Plan For Prediabetes [+Sample Diet Plan Included]
Setting Up The Right Diet Plan For Prediabetes [+Sample Diet Plan Included]

Learn more about the relationship between prediabetes and your diet, and see how to build a diet plan that works for you with some great tips, tricks and recipes from our nutrition team!

Story
9
min
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What You Should Know About Acupuncture
What You Should Know About Acupuncture

Learn more about the research on, as well as the benefits and risks of acupuncture, a form of alternative medicine that involves inserting needles into your body for pain and stress relief.

Story
6
min
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Triglycerides and Blood Glucose [+Tips to Lower Triglyceride Levels]
Triglycerides and Blood Glucose [+Tips to Lower Triglyceride Levels]

Learn everything you need to know about the relationship between triglycerides levels and blood glucose.


Story
5
min
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A Guide to Ayurveda
A Guide to Ayurveda

From acupuncture to chiropractic treatments and homeopathy to holistic healing, complementary and alternative medicine is increasing in popularity. Read on to learn more about Ayurveda, a healing system that originated in India thousands of years ago.  

Story
7
min
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Sugar and Cholesterol: Does Sugar Raise Your Cholesterol Levels?
Sugar and Cholesterol: Does Sugar Raise Your Cholesterol Levels?

Learn about the impact sugar has on your cholesterol levels and ways to manage your sugar intake.