In 2015, 30.3 million Americans, or 9.4 of the population had diabetes. Approximately 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes every year. So, how to lower blood sugar other than conventional medication? You can lower blood sugar naturally by eating fewer carbs, exercising more, eating more fiber, having food with low glycemic index, sleeping well, fasting intermittently, and many more.
Follow these few simple tips on how to lower blood sugar naturally.
Why your blood sugar levels rise?
Our bodies naturally have sugar or glucose in the blood. This sugar is needed to make energy for the cells. When we consume foods with sugar or glucose, insulin pairs with it to enter the cell wall.
- Suggested read: How Many Grams of Sugar Per Day?
If there is no insulin, then the glucose molecule cannot be used. This glucose then hangs around with the bloodstream and causes high blood sugar. If left unchecked, high blood sugar can lead to diabetes.
How to lower blood sugar naturally?
1. Eat fewer carbs
The most effective way to lower blood sugar is to reduce the amounts of carbs that you eat. When we eat too many carbs, our body is not able to break them into sugars and move the sugars into cells very effectively.
The American Diabetes Association recommends that we should control our carb intake by counting carbs or using a food exchange system (1).
According to a study on ten people with type-1 diabetes, a low-carb diet is a feasible option in reducing insulin doses and improving glycaemic control, particularly for those wanting to lose weight (2).
Avoid refined sugars and include healthier items like vegetables and whole grains in your diet.
2. Exercise more
Glucose is the primary source of fuel for our body. If you do not burn this fuel, it will stay in our body and cause problems.
Studies have found that aerobic activities along with resistance training can enhance glucose disposal in type 2 diabetes.
Include some form of exercise like walking or jogging in your daily routine. You can also take stairs instead of elevators, park further away or do housework to reduce your blood sugars.
Muscles help you burn more glucose even when they are at rest as compared to other tissues. So strength training should be a part of your daily routine as well.
You must also get your blood sugar tested regularly. Getting your blood sugar tested will help you understand how your body responds to different activities and prevent your blood sugar from getting too low or too high (3).
3. Eat more fiber
In people with diabetes, fiber helps to slow down the absorption of sugar and improves blood sugar levels.
There are two kinds of fiber – soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber plays a vital role in lowering the blood sugar levels (4).
In type 1 diabetes, a high-fiber diet is helpful in blood sugar control and preventing blood sugar lows.
You can get your daily dose of dietary fiber from foods like fruit, vegetables, beans, legumes and whole grains like oats, quinoa, and barley.
The recommended daily intake of dietary fiber is 14 g per 1000 kcal. This means women should consume 25 grams of dietary fiber per day and men should have at least 38 grams of fiber every day (5).
4. Reduce portion size
When you have a large meal, it puts a sugar load on the already struggling body. By eating smaller portions, you consume fewer calories and hence lose weight. This helps lower blood sugar and reduces the risk of developing type-2 diabetes (6, 7).
You don’t have to starve yourself, try to eat in moderation. Choose the right carbs, proteins, and fats. Eat slowly and chew your food, let your brain know when you have achieved satiety.
Choosing smaller plates helps in reducing portion size and so does keeping a food journal.
5. Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting has become a popular diet these days. Studies have shown that it helps in weight loss and may also reduce insulin resistance.
The theory behind the diet is that short periods of fasting help the body to repair the damage but does not let it get into the conservation mode.
According to a recent study, when people with high blood sugar went through a series of 30-day periodic fasting cycles, in notices improvements in their blood sugar levels (8). None of the subjects noticed any harmful effects.
6. Stay hydrated
Our blood is 83 percent water. When we lose water, the volume of blood decreases but the sugar remains the same. More concentrated blood sugar means higher blood sugar. So, it is essential to stay hydrated to maintain lower blood sugar levels (9).
Water is also helpful in helping the kidneys flush out excess blood sugar through urine.
- Suggested read: How Much Water Should I Drink a Day?
According to one observational study on 3,615 middle-aged men and women, staying hydrated lowers the risk of developing high-sugar levels (10).
7. Have food with low glycemic index
Glycemic index measures how much a particular food boosts blood sugar compared to pure glucose. Food with a glycemic index of 20 will raise the blood sugar by 20 percent as compared to glucose which will raise it by 100 percent.
Lower the glycemic index of a meal, the lower will be the blood sugar and insulin levels after eating. Eating low glycemic index foods helps to reduce the long-term high blood sugar in type 1 and type 2 diabetics (11, 12).
According to a study in 2014, omega-3 fatty acids can help regulate how we metabolize glucose. It decreases the risk of obesity by preventing cells from absorbing too much glucose.
Omega -3 fatty acids keep sugar levels from making a negative impact when we eat an unhealthy meal. Not only do they keep us full for longer, but they also improve our heart health (13). They are a steady slow-burning source of fuel that our body can use in place of sugars.
Foods like grass-fed butter, coconut oil, avocado, nuts, olive oil and oily fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
9. Eat food rich in chromium and magnesium
Chromium and magnesium are responsible for the way our body reacts to insulin. According to an article published in the Archives of Medical Research, chromium and magnesium, along with antioxidants, can be complementary therapies in the treatment of diabetes.
Some studies have shown that chromium can help in long-term blood sugar control (14, 15). Egg-yolks, high-bran cereals, coffee, nuts, green beans, broccoli, and meat, are some foods that are rich in chromium.
Magnesium plays a role in controlling blood sugar levels. A magnesium deficiency increases the risk of diabetes (16).
Dark leafy greens, whole grain, fish, dark chocolate, bananas, avocados, and beans are some magnesium-rich foods.
10. Have vitamins
According to some studies, vitamins may help prevent hyperglycemia by lowering blood sugar levels. When we get enough vitamins, it boosts our immunity and supports our body’s ability to use insulin.
This helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Vitamin B3, B6, B12, C, D, E, and K are beneficial for diabetics.
11. Take apple cider vinegar
According to one study from Arizona State University, 20 grams of apple cider vinegar in 40 grams of water with some saccharine can help lower blood sugar after meals (19).
However, make sure you check with a doctor before you take ACV, especially if you are taking medicine for diabetes.
12. Reduce stress
Stress can affect blood sugar levels (20). When our body is under stress, the adrenal glands trigger the release of glucose stored in various organs, and this leads to high blood sugar levels.
Hormones like glucagon and cortisol, which are secreted during stress can make your stress levels to go up (21).
Control your stress with the help of some yoga or meditation. Practice muscle relaxation, deep breathing or blow off steam with some exercise.
13. Sleep well
Don’t underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. Even a single night of inadequate sleep can raise blood sugar levels.
Sleep deprivation increases cortisol levels and decreases the release of growth hormones. This may increase your risk of obesity and type-2 diabetes (22). A good night of sleep also helps you stay motivated for exercise and a healthy diet.
14. Limit your alcohol intake
Alcohol contains added sugars, and it dehydrates the body. While moderate amounts of sugar may raise your blood sugar levels, excess alcohol can cause it to drop dangerously low, especially for people with type 1 diabetes.
Over time, excessive consumption of alcohol can reduce the overall effectiveness of insulin.
Avoid drinking on an empty stomach and avoid binge drinking as these can increase the risk of hypoglycemia.
15. Add probiotics to your diet
Recent research suggests taking probiotics can keep blood sugar levels in check. According to a German Diabetes Center clinical study, taking probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri helps promote optimal glucose and insulin levels in participants.
According to another study, probiotic supplementation can help in preventing diet-induced metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes (23).
While yogurt is an excellent source of probiotics, it is already loaded with sugar. You can opt for a good probiotic supplement and keep your blood sugar levels in control.
16. Try natural remedies and herbs
Many naturally available foods like bitter melon, okra, cinnamon, fenugreek seeds, mulberry, ginger, and turmeric can help to lower glucose levels.
According to studies, cinnamon can lower blood sugar levels by 29 percent (24). It helps break down carbs in the digestive tract and help control the rise in the blood sugar after meals.
Fenugreek seeds are also known to reduce fasting glucose and improve glucose tolerance (25). Bitter melons contain extracts that are similar to insulin.
Bitter melon juice, fruit, and dried powder can be used to reduce blood sugar moderately, according to some studies. Berbine, an active component of a Chinese herb, can also help lower blood sugar (26).
17. Monitor your blood sugar levels
You must monitor your blood sugar levels regularly to see what raises it and what brings it down. Keeping a track helps you figure out if you need to make some adjustments in your diet.
18. Lose weight
Last, but not the least, weight loss helps in lowering and maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Even a 7 percent of the reduction in body weight can decrease your risk of developing diabetes by 58 percent (27).
Excess abdominal weight is also linked to increased diabetes risk. Men who have a waist circumference of 40 inches and women who have a waist circumference of 35 inches are at an increased risk for developing high blood sugar, insulin resistance, and type-2 diabetes (28).
Final words on how to lower blood sugar naturally
High blood sugar is dangerous and can lead to various health problems. However, you can lower blood sugar by making a few simple lifestyle and dietary changes. If you are already taking medication, you must consult with your doctor before you take any supplements.