Managing your blood sugar isn’t just a concern for those dealing with issues like diabetes or hypoglycemia – in fact, ensuring that you stay within an acceptable range is vital for keeping chronic diseases at bay for just about anyone. Today, we’ll break down the following:
Typical Blood Sugar Levels
According to the CDC, optimal blood sugar levels before a meal range anywhere from 80-130 mg/dL, while two hours after you begin eating, the level should be under 180 mg/dL. Now, of course, these numbers might vary from person to person depending on other health factors, but they’re certainly a good starting point.
Diabetes in the United States
In 2018, the CDC noted that over 34 million people had diabetes in the United States, while over 7 million had undiagnosed diabetes (discovered in routine lab work). These are staggering numbers – and thankfully, several lifestyle factors can be adjusted in order to help your body regular your blood sugar naturally.
If you are currently checking your blood sugar and staying on top of your glucose levels, then you’re on the right track! While many of us might think that blood sugar can only be lowered with medication, there are other ways that this can be done without pharmaceutical intervention. Granted, you’ll certainly need to speak to your physician to ensure there are no contraindications to naturally decreasing blood sugar – but once you’re cleared, you can utilize these tips!
Eat Low Glycemic Foods
The GI, or glycemic index, is a scale used to determine which foods are more likely to cause spikes in blood sugar. Ranked as high, moderate, and low, you can use this index to be informed of the types of foods that are lower (i.e., raise blood sugar slowly, as opposed to high GI foods that spike your blood sugar quickly). These include food items such as barley, muesli, apples, carrots, soy milk, and kidney beans, to name a few!
Working out is beneficial for your health in more ways than one! Aside from building muscle and increasing cardiovascular endurance, exercise boosts your insulin sensitivity! According to the American Diabetes Association, working out can actually lower blood sugar for a day or more; however, this will be highly dependent upon the frequency, intensity, and duration of your workout, along with other health factors. Don’t have an hour to exercise every day? No problem…. even 10-15 minutes of activity at a time is helpful! This can be taking a walk at lunchtime, going up and down the stairs when you get home, or even taking a few minutes in the morning to practice yoga. It’s not an all-or-nothing mindset, so fit it in when you can!
Decrease Your (Processed) Carb Intake
Carbs have been given a bad rap for a long time; the difference is to know which ones are better for your health than others! Carbs are necessary for human function, give you energy, and even aid in maintaining a healthy weight. In terms of lowering blood sugar, you need to pay attention to how many carbs you consume since they’re broken down in the body into glucose. While carbs are necessary in the diet, foods that are ideal for keeping your blood sugar in the clear include avocados, coconut oil, lean proteins, berries, butternut squash, eggs, and leafy greens.
Choose Fibrous Foods
Along with carbohydrates, fiber is another factor to consider when you put together your meals and snacks! While fiber is helpful for a healthy gut, decreasing cholesterol, and maintaining a healthy weight, it’s also necessary for leveling out blood sugar. One study in particular from the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine noted that consuming high amounts of fiber can decrease the risk of Type 2 diabetes. High-fiber foods can include items such as split peas, lentils, bran flakes, peas, raspberries, and broccoli.
For most healthy adults, the water goal for each day is half of your body weight in ounces. Aside from staying hydrated to maintain normal body functioning, drinking water can also help your kidney and liver function appropriately and keep blood sugar levels in the proper ranges. Note that drinks like coffee can actually have the opposite and dehydrate you, so try and stick to water and tea during the day if possible.
Get Quality Sleep
You might wonder how getting good sleep translates to lower blood sugar, right? According to Frontiers of Hormone Research, a decrease in quality sleep at nighttime is associated with developing Type 2 diabetes. This is because hormones are circulating at appropriate times during the period of rest, and disruption in length or quality of sleep each night can cause hormones (such as leptin, the hunger hormone) to go into overdrive. Needing help with improving your sleep habits? Try turning off all electronics at least one hour before bed, avoiding high-intensity exercise before bedtime, ensuring your room is dark and at a comfortable temperature, and going to bed at the same time each night can certainly help!
The Nursing Clinics of North America note that being obese is one of the top factors for diabetes. For most people, a weight loss goal of 1-2 pounds a week is achievable and sustainable and will allow the weight to stay off (as opposed to the rapid weight loss diets that are constantly marketed). Losing at least 5% of body weight for those struggling with obesity helps level out blood sugar and improve both mental and physical health. You aren’t alone if you’re new to exercise and modifying your diet. Sometimes the smallest changes can lead to big results. Short periods of movement during the day, reducing your intake of processed and packaged foods, and ensuring that you get enough rest at night are all beneficial to losing weight. Speak to a trainer or fitness specialist if you need help getting started!
Lowering blood sugar naturally is definitely doable and can significantly improve one’s quality of life; speak with your physician for more information on how you can do this without pharmaceutical intervention, if possible!