Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD
PCOS hormone imbalance from insulin resistance can eventually lead to Type 2 Diabetes when not well managed. The good news is that early intervention with diet for PCOS and insulin resistance can work to prevent diabetes!
Over the years I have warned many of my PCOS patients with severe insulin resistance that they will become diabetic within 5 years if they do not get their insulin resistance under control. Many have worked hard with my natural recommendations and diet changes to prevent this often inevitable occurrence.
Not all PCOS patients are at risk for diabetes because there are over five types of PCOS as I discuss on my PCOS blog. My "Skinny PCOS" patients that have the lean type, or adrenal type of PCOS may not feel good on this recipe. As a PCOS specialist, I have seen many variations of PCOS over the years, and the poor patients with an adrenal type of PCOS where the hormone imbalance is coming from the adrenals and not insulin need a completely different treatment plan and are often misdiagnosed when they truly have Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia and do not feel good on medications for PCOS such as Metformin.
So this recipe is for women with PCOS that have a high fasting insulin level of >6-20+ and should not be used for those with fasting insulin at <2-4 as it may cause hypoglycemic vomiting. Although other types of PCOS may benefit from this anti-inflammatory recipe, this recipe is specifically for PCOS caused by insulin resistance. Many research studies indicate PCOS is an inflammatory condition, therefore using powerful herbal medicine and functional foods can help reduce inflammation for all types of PCOS. To read about the research behind the herbal medicines used in the recipe visit my Insulin Resistance blog.
So cinnamon is an excellent daily medicine to add to your regime so long as it is not giving you hot flashes! Cinnamon is a warming herb which is why I combine it with cooling apples, coconut, and aloe to help balance this functional medicine herbal smoothie recipe out.
As I discuss on my apple blog, apples actually help with weight loss for PCOS and Type 2 Diabetes by helping the pancreas work more effectively and modulate insulin production. If you are allergic to apples I believe you can effectively substitute the apples with pears, peaches, nectarines, or plums. But the most amount of research on fruits for diabetes I have been able to find was conducted on apples. I love that apples are a superfood because they are super inexpensive, delicious, and only have around 20g of carbs per medium sized apple. Because Apples are on the "Dirty Dozen" I buy mine organic.
Since I found this exciting apple weight loss research I have been having many of my female patients replace their bread with 1-2 apples per day.
Guess what? They are losing weight and getting their hormones balanced just with apples! Plus I love an Apple Pie flavored smoothie to break things up from my normal berry or banana chocolate smoothie I normally drink. If you need to gain weight add more nut butters or organic coconut milk.
To make the smoothie extra cold I recommend chopping the apples and freezing them. You can put the apples and ginger together in bags so most of the ingredients are ready to go and you just need to add nut milk, water, and ice. If you freeze aloe vera juice into ice cubes you can throw one or two ice cubes into the bag as well.
I love teaching my patients how to add more “Functional Foods” to their regimes. When I have a great health nut patient that likes recipes such as this, they get well faster and save so much money on herbal medicine when they choose to have food be their medicine.
Personally, I would rather buy organic herbal medicine powders to put in a smoothie than capsules as I know the cost-saving benefit is quite dramatic! The organic herbs I stock at my clinic come from either Mountain Rose Herbs or Starwest Botanicals. You can buy your own organic herbs directly from their websites. I do not trust random herbal powders on Amazon. Always buy organic and stick with trusted suppliers for your medicine.
By using foods and herbs researched to be effective for PCOS, inflammation, diabetes, and insulin resistance in a daily smoothie my patients can reduce their reliance on vitamins, expensive capsules, and medications. When I was putting the herbal medicine research together for my latest blog on insulin resistance, I realized how delicious it would be to make an apple pie flavored smoothie with all the herbs backed by research to effectively work against insulin resistance!
Let food be thy medicine!
Safety Tip: This recipe is designed to lower insulin and should not be used by Type 1 Diabetics. Please work with me or your own Naturopathic Doctor if you are using this smoothie recipe for medicinal purposes. It will work to lower blood sugar and insulin over time and I do not want any diabetics getting dangerous low blood sugar!! Hypoglycemia can occur if not using enough carbs or calories for those that do not have any issues with their blood sugar they may need to add some almond butter, agave syrup, or use more organic coconut milk so they do not lose weight.
Coconut milk contains MCT's or Medium Chained Triglycerides that work to balance blood sugar. Too much coconut fat can become a bad fat as there is a lot of saturated fat in coconut and I do see it occasionally being the reason behind my patient's high cholesterol so keep in mind that too much of any good thing may not be good! But coconut also has antiviral properties along with the cinnamon and ginger. Aloe vera helps heal the digestive tract which is important in hormone imbalance as we are often treating the gut in functional medicine to balance hormones.
PCOS Apple Pie Smoothie Recipe:
½ cup coconut milk or water
½ cup frozen apples
1 tsp cinnamon *Organic real cinnamon from Mountain Rose Herbs or Starwest Botanicals)
1 tsp-1 Tbl fresh ginger
1-3 packets of stevia to taste (1/4-1/2 tsp)
1 scoop pea protein powder (My favorite brand is by Sunwarrior on Amazon as it is sweetened with stevia and is low carb)
1 Tbl aloe vera juice or gel (When using fresh aloe rinse the yellow latex off the gel or diarrhea will occur. Start with one piece about the size of a cucumber slice) For premade my favorite brand is the "Lily of the Desert Brand" on Amazon, "Inner Fillet."
Blend all ingredients and add more nut milk, water or ice to reach desired consistency. Drink 1-3 shakes daily per your Naturopathic Doctor’s recommendation. You can use powdered ginger but fresh is much more potent, buy a pound of ginger root at your grocery store, peel and cut in dice-sized cubes so they can be frozen and easily popped into your smoothie every day.
All of these herbs combined are POWERFUL anti-inflammatories and blood sugar regulators. Be sure to track your fasting glucose, Hemoglobin A1c, and fasting insulin with your Naturopathic Doctor as these numbers will gradually come down over 3-6 months and I often need to adjust my patient's medications down as their herbal medicines begin to take effect. I have taken patients off their BP meds, diabetes meds, and high cholesterol meds using this recipe or the herbs in capsules but that happens over three to twelve months generally and is thus a long-term goal. Nobody should suddenly stop taking their medications!
Keep in mind that herbs don't work immediately. As someone that is super impatient and wants results NOW, I should forewarn you to stay committed to the healing process. Herbs work gradually over time.
Dr. Nicole Sundene
Dr. Sundene is a Naturopathic Doctor in Scottsdale, Arizona, and is a Female Hormone Expert in Women's Health and Bioidentical Hormones. She specializes in Holistic Women's Health for Menopause, Thyroid, Hashimotos, PMS, Perimenopause, Autoimmune, Postpartum, Chronic Fatigue, Depression, Anxiety, Food Allergies, Digestion, Dermatology, Acne, Psoriasis, Eczema, and Adrenal Hormonal Conditions. In 1999 she began working for a Hormone Doctor prior to starting Naturopathic Medical School. With over 23 years of experience in both Prescription and Natural women's health and hormones, she presents to women the best-integrated health solutions for their Chronic Disease.
She has been an Herbalist for over 28 years and enjoys teaching women how to use herbs to balance their hormones, nutrition and optimize their health. Dr. Sundene relies on blood testing for her hormone metrics. The hormone testing is covered per the patient's insurance plan (not Medicaid) and conducted at certain points in the woman's menstrual cycle. To learn more about Hormone Testing for Women Visit: Bioidentical Hormones. Follow Dr. Sundene on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for more tips on Women's Health, Female Hormones, and Naturopathy!