I’m a Doctor and Here’s How to Lower Your Blood Sugar — Eat This Not That
If you have recently excessive thirst, hunger, fatigue, and go to the bathroom more often than usual, you may suffer from high blood sugar. Even if that’s the case, there is no need to panic—there are methods (aside from taking insulin, if advised by your doctor) that can bring it down over the long term. With steady work, it can be managed. How can you lower your blood sugar? Read on to find out how you can lower your blood sugar—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
High blood sugar, also known as hyperglycemia, is a result of too much sugar in the blood due to a lack of insulin in the body. Often linked to diabetes, if left untreated it can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, vision issues, kidney disease, nerve problems, and more. Here is how you can bring down blood sugar with these science-backed tips.
Exercise: Physical activity is helpful for managing high blood sugar. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) advises that moving every 30 minutes can aid in blood glucose management.
Sleep: Sufficient, good quality sleep will help you keep your blood sugar at healthy levels. Seven to eight hours is usually sufficient for most adults. Tips for improved sleep include having a relaxed routine to help you wind-down prior to bed, and avoiding caffeine in the afternoon or evening.
If you are prediabetic, you can reverse high blood glucose using regular, moderate-to-intense exercise, weight loss, and a balanced, low-sugar diet. If you have already been diagnosed with diabetes, starting a healthy eating plan is one of the best things you can do to keep yourself healthy in the long term. Current guidelines recommend eating a diverse meal plan incorporating foods from all the main food groups and sticking to the portion-sizes recommended.
- Limit refined or processed carbohydrates, like baked goods or pasta, as these can rapidly spike your blood sugar.
- Choose whole grains instead of the more refined versions e.g whole grain bread, brown rice, whole oats, etc.
- Limit high sugar fruits, such as watermelon or mango, and eat moderate amounts of low-glycemic fruits including oranges, berries, and apples.
- Eat some protein with each meal. Low-fat and lean proteins such as eggs, lean beef or pork, fish, skinless chicken, or turkey, help build muscle mass without pushing up fat and glucose levels.
- Avoid fried foods, excessively salty foods (e.g. potato chips), sugary foods (e.g. candy, ice cream, and cakes), and drinks that contain added sugar, like soda and energy drinks.
- Drink water instead of sweetened beverages. Do not add sugar to your coffee or tea and, if you must have something sweet, use a natural sweetener like stevia, instead.
- Women should drink no more than one alcoholic beverage on any day, and men should limit alcohol intake to a maximum of two drinks. If you take insulin, be very careful around alcohol as this can cause blood glucose levels to drop too low and increase your risk for developing hypoglycemia. Always eat food when consuming alcohol to reduce your risk.
While supplements should not be used to replace standard medical treatments for diabetes, there is growing evidence that some supplements can help diabetics control their blood sugar. Always talk to your doctor if you are planning on using any supplements as some can interfere with other treatments and medications.
- Chromium: Chromium deficiency impairs glucose metabolism. Evidence supports chromium as an aid in lowering blood sugar and A1c levels. This supplement is not suitable if you have kidney disease.
- Magnesium: Low levels of magnesium in type 2 diabetics is associated with worse blood sugar control and may contribute to some diabetes complications. To increase your magnesium intake, you could take a magnesium supplement or get more magnesium in your diet by eating whole grains, nuts, and green leafy vegetables.
- Zinc: Many diabetics are zinc deficient. Studies have shown that zinc supplementation can reduce blood sugar and A1C.
- Berberine: Found in plants such as goldenseal, barberry, oregon grape root, and coptis. Current evidence supports its use for decreasing blood sugar and Hba1c. Berberine must not be taken while pregnant.
- Gymnema: This botanical, used for centuries in India, has been shown to benefit glucose metabolism and insulin levels. It can be very effective in lowering blood glucose levels when used in conjunction with pharmaceutical medications, but you must monitor your blood sugar closely to avoid hypoglycemia.
As with supplements, certain foods are helpful to diabetics trying to achieve good blood glucose control. These have also been shown to help:
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar can assist in effective diabetes management. A common protocol is to take 2 tablespoons of ACV before bedtime to reduce morning fasting sugar levels. Taking 1-2 tablespoons with meals can also help decrease the glycemic load of a carbohydrate-rich meal.
- Fiber and Barley: Fiber can help decrease blood sugar, with the ideal daily intake being 25 to 30 grams per day. Barley, which is high in protein and fiber, can improve cholesterol, insulin levels, and blood sugar.
- Cinnamon: Anecdotal evidence suggests that cinnamon can help lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels although scientific evidence for this is not conclusive.
- Fenugreek: This seed, commonly used as a food spice, also has medical benefits and is thought to lower fasting blood glucose levels and HbA1c