How to Reduce Blood Glucose Levels Naturally
Glucose or blood sugar is crucial to the management of diabetes. People develop diabetes when the pancreas is unable to produce sufficient amounts of insulin or their bodies become less sensitive to insulin produced by the body. Without sufficient insulin, a person’s blood sugar level get difficult to control.
Hyperglycemia or high blood sugar is very common in people with type 2 diabetes however anyone with diabetes can suffer from bouts of high blood glucose. Reducing your blood sugar levels is critical to the management of diabetes both in the short and long-term.
Hyperglycemia when untreated can cause a number of other complications including the following:
- Heart disease
- Kidney failure
- Neuropathy or nerve damage
- Joint complaints
- Skin infections
- Oral infections
- Eye damage
- Diabetic Coma
Many diabetic patients are able to detect the signs of hyperglycemia. Signs can develop if blood sugar levels reach 200mg/dL. Common symptoms of high blood glucose include:
- Excessive fatigue that may come on suddenly
- Severe headaches
- Blurred vision
- Abdominal pains
- Increased urination
- Dryness in the mouth
It is important to monitor blood glucose levels regularly to know where you stand and to prevent hyperglycemia from developing. The recommended blood sugar levels are between 70 and 130 mg/dL prior to eating and under 180 mg/dL following a meal.
How can you Reduce Blood Glucose?
Eating the right stuff and exercising enough are two of the most important factors in keeping blood sugar under control.
When you consume carbohydrates, they get broken down by the body into sugars like glucose. Insulin then helps move these sugars into the cells. Consuming too many carbohydrates can cause this process to fail and blood sugar levels to rise.
The ADA (American Diabetes Association) recommends that you count your carb intake and plan your meals well. (1)
A number of studies have found that low carbohydrate diets can help lower blood sugar and prevent spikes. (2) (3) A low carbohydrate diet can also help to control blood sugar in the long term. (4)
Increase your Fiber Intake
Fiber helps to slow the digestion of carbs and the absorption of sugars and therefore promotes a steadier increase in blood sugar.
Which fibers you eat are also important. There are two types – insoluble fiber and soluble fiber. While they are both important, soluble fiber is particularly useful in blood sugar management according to studies. (5)
High fiber foods include fruit, vegetables, whole grains and legumes.
Eat Low Glycemic Index Foods
The glycemic index can help determine how blood sugar levels in the body responds to foods containing carbohydrates. The type and amount of carbs you eat both affect the results.
Studies have showed that eating food with a low glycemic index helps reduce long term levels of blood sugar in people with type 1 and 2 diabetes. (6)
Low glycemic index-foods include oats, barley, eggs, meat, legumes, yams, seafood, most fruit and vegetables.
Being careful with your portions can help to regulate your calories and help you to lose weight. There is a huge amount of research linking weight loss to a reduced risk of developing diabetes. (7) (8)
2) Exercise Often
Exercising on a regular basis can you to lose weight but it also increases insulin sensitivity. This means the cells can use the available sugars more effectively. Exercise can help the muscles utilize blood sugars for muscle contraction and energy.
The idea of starting an exercise regime can be difficult at first, especially if you have been out of shape for a long time. You do not have to run 10 miles a day, but try doing something every day. Brisk walking, swimming, cycling and aerobics can all help.
3) Drink Plenty of Water
Making sure that you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water helps to keep blood glucose levels under control. It also helps the kidneys to flush out any excess of blood sugar via the urine.
An observational study published in 2011 suggests that people who drink more water have a reduced risk of high blood glucose levels. (9)
It is important to stay hydrated with water or unsweetened beverages like herbal teas. Sugary drinks can increase blood sugar and cause weight gain.
4) Control Stress
There is plenty of evidence that high levels of stress can have an impact on blood sugar. When you are stressed, hormones like cortisol and glucagon get secreted and in turn cause an increase in blood glucose. (10)
One study demonstrated that relaxation, meditation and exercise could help reduce stress significantly and also reduce blood glucose levels in students nurses. (11)
5) Get Plenty of Sleep
Getting plenty of high quality sleep is great for the health in general but it can also have a positive impact on blood sugar management.
Insufficient sleep can increase the body’s cortisol levels and reduce the amount of growth hormones released. Both factors are important to blood sugar management.
Read our article on tips for better sleep by clicking this link.
Berberine is an active compound found in several herbs and has been used in Asia to treat and manage diabetes for centuries. Studies have demonstrated that berberine can help reduce blood sugar as well as helping break down carbohydrates for energy. (12) (13)
Studies have also showed that berberine may be just as effective in reducing blood sugar as some prescription drugs but the precise reason it works is still unclear. (14)
Berberine does come with a risk of certain digestive side effects including constipation, abdominal pain and diarrhea.
7) Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has a great variety of uses for your health and it may help keep your blood sugar levels in check. According to studies, vinegar promotes lower levels of fasting blood glucose. (15) Studies have also showed that vinegar improves insulin sensitivity. (16)
Cinnamon has a wide range of health benefits including the ability to increase insulin sensitivity. (17) Studies have demonstrated that it helps to reduce blood sugar by as much as 29%. (18) It also helps slow the breakdown of carbohydrates which helps slow the rise of blood sugars following a meal. (19)
9) Fenugreek Seeds
Eating fenugreek seeds can also help you control your blood sugar level. They are a great source of soluble fiber and studies have showed they could have a positive impact for diabetics and people with pre-diabetes. They help lower fasting glucose levels and boost glucose tolerance. (20) (21)
10) Lose Weight
And last but by no means least, we come to the elephant in the room. Trying to maintain a healthy weight is obviously good for your overall health and can reduce the risk of future, serious health issues.
Weight control is also important when it comes to blood sugar level. People who are overweight or obese have a much higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes.
According to studies, just a 7% drop in a person’s weight can reduce the risk of diabetes by 58%. Not only that, but it is more effective than any medication. (21)
As well as body weight, it is important to measure your waistline since it is another major risk factor for diabetes. A waist measurement of over 40 inches for men and 35 for women is linked to an increased risk of insulin resistance, high blood glucose and diabetes. (22)