How to Lower Blood Sugar Naturally: 10 Easy Tactics
Blood sugar refers to the amount of glucose in your blood, and it fluctuates throughout the day. When you eat carbohydrates, your body breaks this down into sugar, and your blood sugar will rise. It's not just food that can affect your blood sugar – inactivity, stress, and infection can also affect your sugar metabolism.
Let's dive into the helpful ways to lower blood glucose naturally.
The Importance of Maintaining Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
Why is it important to pay attention to maintaining healthy blood sugar levels? For people with diabetes, unmanaged high blood glucose can be harmful, damaging your kidneys, nerves, heart, and eyes.
To prevent these complications, blood sugar levels must be kept within a normal range. A blood glucose meter is an excellent tool for people with diabetes to monitor their blood sugar levels. By monitoring blood sugar, you can learn what causes it to go up or down. You can then make adjustments in your meals, exercise, and medication.
Even if you don't have diabetes or prediabetes, it's still important to watch your blood glucose to avoid glucose spikes and crashes. Keeping blood sugar levels steady can help you avoid feeling sluggish, irritable, and craving sugary snacks throughout the day.
How to Lower Blood Sugar Naturally with Easy Tactics
The first step in managing high blood sugar is to make changes to diet and lifestyle. You can start with simple changes to lower your blood sugar naturally. Below are 10 simple tactics; try to incorporate one at a time to see how each affects your blood glucose.
As always, make sure you consult with a healthcare professional before making any major diet or lifestyle changes.
1. Consume Foods That Lower Blood Sugar
Diets high in fiber can help lower blood sugar naturally and have been linked to improved glycemic control in people with diabetes and prediabetes. This is because fiber slows down digestion, which can help the body avoid blood sugar spikes and crashes.
Try these foods that are high in fiber:
- Leafy Greens
Check out this chopped rainbow salad with multi-greens for a colorful way to include many of these ingredients!
2. Fill Up on Soluble Fiber
Fiber, especially soluble fiber, can help slow the absorption of sugar, causing a more moderate rise in blood sugar. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel-like material that slows the digestion process. High-fiber foods are usually rich in other nutrients as well, making it a win-win to incorporate them into your meals.
Here are some examples of foods high in soluble fiber:
- Vegetables: carrots
- Fruits: pears
- Whole grains: oats
- Beans and legumes: black beans
- Nuts and seeds: hazelnuts
Refined grains or processed foods are usually lower in fiber, so try to swap in whole grains and less processed options whenever possible. Try whole fruits instead of fruit juices, and nuts or popcorn instead of chips or baked goods. Also, don't forget to stay adequately hydrated: an increase in fiber can cause digestive upset if you don't drink enough water.
3. Add Resistant Starch to Your Diet
Resistant starch is a type of starch that is not digested in the stomach or small intestine. Because it's not digested, it does not raise glucose levels. Instead, resistant starch acts as an energy source for gut bacteria, and promotes beneficial bacteria growth within the gut microbiome.
The amount of resistant starch in foods varies depending on ripeness and preparation methods. As bananas ripen, the amount of resistant starch decreases. Some starches develop higher levels of resistant starch if allowed to cool after cooking.
Try incorporating these sources of resistant starch into your next meal:
- Green bananas, plantains
- Oats and barley
- Cooked and cooled rice
This caprese lentil and spinach salad is full of hearty lentils, and is a delicious way to increase your intake of resistant starch.
4. Add More Electrolytes Into Your Diet
Electrolyte imbalance often occurs with high blood glucose. As your body tries to remove the extra sugar in your blood, it will increase water use. With more frequent urination, your body loses water and electrolytes. Electrolytes need to be maintained in balance for your body to function. Including more natural sources of electrolytes in your diet can help to prevent any further imbalance.
Fruits and vegetables are naturally high in electrolytes, and contain other health benefits like fiber. The USDA recommends that adults eat at least 1½ to 2 cups per day of fruit and 2 to 3 cups per day of vegetables as part of a healthy eating pattern.
5. Drink More Water
Water is the best beverage choice because it contains zero carbohydrates or calories, so it does not affect blood sugar. Here are some tips to include more water in your day:
- Use a straw: this makes drinking water in small sips easier and prevents the bloated feeling of drinking too much water at once.
- Try a water tracking app: there are apps that give you reminders to drink water throughout the day. People often don't drink water until they feel thirsty – a reminder will help you remember that you need to drink.
- Swap sweetened beverages for unsweetened: If you are used to drinking sugary drinks, gradually ease yourself into drinking just water. Here are some great examples of alternatives to sugary drinks, such as seltzer water and infused water with citrus fruits.
6. Eat Smaller, More Frequent Meals
It's recommended that people with diabetes eat 4-5 small meals per day rather than larger meals.
A simple way to control portions is to use the Diabetes Plate Method. Start with a 9-inch plate or similar size. Make half the plate non-starchy vegetables, one quarter lean protein, and the rest whole grains or starchy vegetables. For snacks, try to buy individually packed snacks or pre-portion your own, such as a cup of yogurt, cheese sticks, or a small apple. For a more decadent treat that's still nutritionally balanced, try this sunflower butter strawberry toast.
7. Make it a Priority to Eat Breakfast
We often don’t feel hungry first thing in the morning, or don’t have time to make a meal. Then when lunchtime comes, you find yourself starving for food and you end up eating a huge meal. Studies show that skipping breakfast corresponds to higher blood glucose levels. Moreover, it can affect your blood glucose level for the entire day. Starting your day with a healthy, fiber and protein-rich breakfast will help regulate blood sugar and keep you feeling your best throughout the day.
Breakfast doesn't have to be complicated. It can be as easy as an egg on whole grain toast, or mixed berries with high-protein yogurt and nuts. Check out this unique spin on a classic: avocado superfood toast.
8. Increase Your Movement and Exercise
Exercise can help improve blood glucose control in the long run (no pun intended), improve your insulin sensitivity, and reduce insulin resistance. Moreover, it can help reduce stress and feelings of depression, which also bring down your blood sugar. Either aerobic or resistance training can improve glycemic control. However, a combination of both can lead to the greatest improvement.
Insulin sensitivity is heightened for seven to 11 hours after exercise, so be aware of hypoglycemia, a drop in blood sugar that can cause dizziness, nausea, or more serious effects. To maximise muscle recovery after your workout, try to consume a snack high in protein with moderate carbohydrates to replenish energy and muscle stores.
9. Aim to Get 7 – 9 Hours of Sleep Each Night
Insufficient sleep is related to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. The CDC reports that even one night of poor sleep can negatively affect your body's insulin efficiency. Sleep loss is also related to impaired glucose tolerance, so optimizing sleep duration and quality may help regulate your blood sugar.
How much sleep should you get? Studies have shown that both people who sleep less than six hours and those who sleep more than nine hours a night have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Aim for between seven and nine hours of sleep a night, and try to be consistent. Some great tips to improve sleep are:
- Dim lights 30 minutes before bed, and make sure the room is dark when you go to sleep.
- Turn off or mute your phone at night to prevent disruptive noise, light, or vibrations
- Try to have a consistent sleep schedule (this includes weekends!)
- Include some exercise during the day, at least one hour before bed. Exercising too close to bedtime can make it hard for some people to fall asleep.
10. Manage Your Stress Levels
When stressed, your body prepares itself with extra glucose for emergency use. It does this by changing hormones to decrease insulin sensitivity and increase glucose release from cells. This causes blood sugar to increase. By managing your stress levels, you are also helping your body regulate blood sugar.
Finding ways to relieve stress is vital to regulating blood sugar. Everyone has different ways of managing stress. If you don’t know where to start, you can try these simple steps to start at home yoga. Studies show yoga practice may improve blood glucose levels and type 2 diabetes outcomes.
By lowering blood sugar naturally, you are reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes and preventing complications such as heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease. Start small by trying one of these tips today, and continue to incorporate them gradually into your lifestyle. Simplify your meal planning, try out some new exercises, stay hydrated, and find ways to lower stress. With time and perseverance, these small lifestyle changes can add up to a large difference in your health.