My mother is on chemotherapy, and one of the few things she can get down is apple juice. Unfortunately, the apple juice raises her blood sugar and she can't drink or eat anything with artificial sweeteners. Any advice on food to pair with the juice to keep blood sugar low?

I hope your mom is doing well with the chemotherapy. Let me begin by saying that chemotherapy (and all that goes with it) alone can cause an increase in blood sugar levels. I tell my oncology patients that if they do monitor their blood sugar to keep this in mind and to work closely with their primary care physician to make sure that the medication they are on to help this is adequate. Sometimes my patients will need a slight increase or start of blood sugar lowering medications.

Your question is a good one. Juice that is made from 100% fruit is a great way to help people obtain vitamins and minerals that will help keep their immune system high during chemotherapy. And, if the chemo is affecting your mom’s taste buds or if she has been struggling with nausea, I am happy to hear that she can at least tolerate juice that is good for her. First you may think about diluting the juice with some water or sparkling club soda. That way she can drink more of it and stay hydrated without having too much effect on blood glucose levels. Next you might want to pair the juice with a food that is high in complex carbohydrate or protein. These nutrients can help buffer the effect of the sugar in the juice. Examples could include a slice of whole wheat toast topped with almond butter, a few whole grain crackers topped with peanut butter or cheese, cottage cheese, hard boiled egg, canned chicken or tuna mixed with a little Miracle Whip (place on a whole grain cracker or eat it as is), trail mix and hummus paired with cut up veggies. Your mom may want to put the juice into a smoothie. Combine apple juice with Greek yogurt, Chia seeds, a few blueberries and ice in the blender and you will have a high protein, high fiber, tasty drink.

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