High blood sugar, also known as hyperglycemia, is associated with diabetes, a disease that can cause heart attack, heart failure, stroke, and kidney failure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 13% of all Americans and 25% of those 65 or older suffer from it. Additionally, around 96 million adults in the United States have prediabetes, with up to 70% of them at risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future.
8 Ways to Lower Your Blood Sugar
There are simple steps you can take to lower your blood sugar levels naturally:
- Exercise regularly: Engage in activities like weightlifting, brisk walking, running, bicycling, dancing, hiking, and swimming. Regular exercise improves insulin sensitivity and helps cells better utilize the sugar in your blood.
- Manage your carbs: Monitor carb intake and plan meals to control blood sugar levels. A low-carb diet can prevent sugar spikes and have long-term benefits.
- Eat more fiber: Fiber slows digestion of carbohydrates and sugar absorption, promoting more gradual increases in blood sugar levels. Opt for soluble fiber found in fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains.
- Drink plenty of water: Staying hydrated helps your kidneys flush out excess sugar, reducing the risk of high blood sugar levels. Avoid sugary drinks that can further elevate blood sugar.
- Eat moderate portions: Controlling portion sizes reduces calorie intake, promotes healthy blood sugar levels, and lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Manage your stress: Stress affects blood sugar levels, so practice relaxation techniques, exercise, and meditation to reduce stress levels.
- Get enough sleep: Poor sleep habits can increase appetite, promote weight gain, and affect blood sugar. Aim for at least seven hours of sleep per night.
- Eat foods rich in chromium and magnesium: Deficiencies in these minerals are linked to high blood sugar levels. Include foods like meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and dark leafy greens in your diet.
Steps to Lower Blood Sugar for Prediabetes
For individuals with prediabetes, it’s crucial to take action to prevent the progression to type 2 diabetes:
- Know your numbers: Get screened for prediabetes and diabetes regularly, and keep track of your blood sugar levels to monitor changes.
- Don’t complicate exercise: Incorporate at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, such as brisk walking, to improve blood glucose control.
- Get professional help: Work with doctors and dietitians specialized in diabetes care to create a plan to lower blood sugar and prevent diabetes.
- Cut back on ultraprocessed foods: Reduce consumption of processed carbs like bread, pasta, noodles, and white rice, which can cause quick spikes in blood sugar levels.
- Adopt a balanced diet: Follow an eating pattern similar to the Mediterranean diet, emphasizing vegetables, healthy carbs, and daily recommended fiber intake.
- Sleep on it: Ensure adequate sleep, as it is critical for diabetes management and metabolic health.
- Lifestyle changes alone not enough? Consider medication: For some individuals, medications like metformin may be helpful in lowering blood sugar levels.
FAQs about Lowering Blood Sugar and Preventing Diabetes
1. What is a healthy blood sugar level?
A healthy fasting blood sugar level is below 100 mg/dL. A glucose level of 100 to 125 mg/dL is considered prediabetes, while 126 mg/dL or higher indicates diabetes.
2. How can I monitor my blood sugar levels?
You can monitor your blood sugar through regular blood tests, such as fasting blood sugar and hemoglobin A1C tests. Individuals with diabetes may use continuous glucose monitors to track their levels more frequently.
3. Can exercise help lower blood sugar?
Yes, regular exercise can improve insulin sensitivity and help cells utilize sugar more effectively, leading to lower blood sugar levels.
4. Are there any supplements to lower blood sugar?
While some studies suggest that certain supplements like vitamin D, omega-3s, and berberine may help lower blood glucose levels, there is no strong evidence yet to support their effectiveness. It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional before taking any supplements, especially if you are on other medications.
5. What is the glycemic index, and should I follow it?
The glycemic index rates foods containing carbohydrates based on how quickly they raise blood sugar levels. While it can be a helpful tool for some, it’s important to understand that individual responses to foods can vary, and the glycemic index may not be a perfect guide for everyone.
6. Can prediabetes be reversed?
Yes, prediabetes can be reversed through lifestyle changes like regular exercise, a balanced diet, and weight management. These changes can lower blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
7. What is the National Diabetes Prevention Program?
The National Diabetes Prevention Program is a public-private partnership that offers evidence-based lifestyle change programs to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes in individuals with prediabetes.
8. How can I get help to lower my blood sugar levels?
If you need guidance in managing your blood sugar levels, consult with your healthcare provider, or seek the expertise of doctors and dietitians specialized in diabetes care. They can create a personalized plan to help you achieve your health goals.
Lowering your blood sugar levels and preventing diabetes is achievable with determination, lifestyle changes, and professional support. Taking proactive steps to maintain healthy blood sugar levels can significantly improve your overall well-being and reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications.