It can be difficult to maintain a normal blood sugar level when your body has difficulties regulating it. There’s so much advice, as well as different products and medications, out there. It can be a lot to take in. This article is designed to tell you the best methods to naturally lower your blood sugar and keep it under control.
How Does High Blood Sugar Happen?
Blood sugar fluctuates based on the foods you eat, the time of day, and your body. The bodies of those who are at risk for or have diabetes are unable to keep up with the demand, specifically with regard to their pancreases. This causes the blood sugar to slowly rise over time and can lead to dangerously high levels.
There are ways you can help lower and keep your blood sugar in normal limits. By changing your diet and habits and taking natural supplements, you can effectively lower your blood sugar and gain more control over your body.
How Can You Tell? How Do You Feel When Your Blood Sugar is High?
Signs and symptoms of high blood sugar vary between each person. The general symptoms that people note are:
- Increased thirst
- Tiredness or weakness
- Blurred vision
- Frequent urination
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Stomach pain
- Dry mouth
Individuals who have had high blood sugar can often tell if their sugar is too high because of these symptoms. Likewise, they can usually tell if they need to eat something because it is low. Your body will use these signs to give you a clue that something is wrong.
Although intuition can be useful, the only real way to know if your blood sugar is high is to test it. This can be done using a glucometer and a fingerstick at home or through blood work with your doctor.
Testing Your Sugar
If your blood sugar runs high, you should check your levels regularly. The best times to check your blood sugar are:
- Before each meal
- At bedtime
- After physical activity or exercise
- When you feel symptoms or feel sick
Generally speaking, those who take insulin and control their blood sugar should check at least three times a day. Those who are at risk or trying to better manage their blood sugar should check at least once in the morning before breakfast.
Always write your sugar levels down! Logging your numbers in a small notebook with the date and time can help you and your doctor track progress and notice a pattern for when you experience troubles. It will also show if your blood sugar is trending upwards, gradually increasing in small increments, or holding steady.
How to Lower Blood Sugar Naturally Through Diet Changes
There are specific ways you can decrease your blood sugar through diet. You can change what you eat each day, controlling what is in your foods. Additionally, you can learn what foods cause your blood sugar to rise.
Reducing Sugar Intake
Using the glycemic index, you can see what foods are likely to turn into sugars and cause blood sugar spikes.
- Foods with a low glycemic index (e.g. meats, eggs, beans, corn, and fruits) can keep your blood sugar under control because they are not full of starch, which digests into sugar and causes blood sugar spikes.
- Foods with a high glycemic index (e.g. bread, potatoes, popcorn, and pasta) break down into glucose. While these give your body fuel, they also cause spikes in blood sugar and can make it more difficult to control and regulate.
Control Your Carbs
Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of fuel. These are broken down into sugars that can be used for energy in the body. However, these also build up within the body and cause high blood sugar. There are ways to enjoy these foods without blood sugar spikes, though:
- Eat small amounts throughout the day, avoiding a large intake at once.
- Space out carbohydrates, do not binge eat or try to save them for dinner.
- Avoid fasting on purpose and skipping meals.
- Count the number of carbs you eat.
- Eat foods that are resistant starches—those that aren’t digested in the small intestine and act as fiber rather than sugar.
- Great examples are beans and lentils, whole grains, and corn.
- Control the portions you eat:
- Use smaller plates
- Read labels
- Eat slowly
- Keep track of what you eat—include it in your sugar log!
Drinking water has countless health benefits for your body, including blood sugar control. By drinking more, you can prevent your body from having too high a concentration of blood sugar. Water rehydrates your blood and allows you to urinate, which causes sugars to be excreted.
- Stick to water and avoid sugary soft drinks, diet drinks, or sports drinks that are often high in carbohydrates.
- Six to eight cups, or 1.2 liters, of water, are recommended per day.
In addition to decreasing carbohydrate intake and drinking more water, you can also lower your blood sugar by increasing your fiber intake.
- Fiber gives you energy slowly and helps prevent blood sugar spikes.
- One study found that consuming probiotics can bring your blood sugar down by helping you effectively digest the food you eat.
Foods That Lower Blood Sugar
There is no magic food you can eat that will lower your blood sugar instantly. There are options that are lower on the glycemic index and can help you better control your blood sugar level, including:
- Whole grains - These break down as fiber. On the other hand, white bread is a sugary starch. Whole grains are high in fiber and people who eat them have better insulin sensitivity.
- Beans or legumes - These digest slowly over time and are less likely to cause a spike in your blood sugar. Additionally, they are very filling. They can be added directly to or hidden in salads and other dishes.
- Garlic - While it won’t make your breath great, studies show that eating garlic can actually lower your blood sugar.
- Fruits - Most fruits have a low glycemic index and are broken down into simple sugars, which are readily and quickly used by the body as opposed to carbohydrate sugars that stick around.
- Prickly pear (nopal cactus) - The body slowly absorbs this cactus. Some studies show lower blood sugar after consumption. It can be boiled, grilled, fried, or mashed and added to foods. Not only is it great because of its versatility, but it also contains high amounts of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein.
- Bitter melon - Whether eaten by itself or in a supplement, bitter melon naturally contains a special substance called charatin and can have insulin-like effects in the body. Studies show that it naturally reduces blood sugar when eaten.
- Avocados - These contain different types of fatty acids that help control blood sugar and increase insulin sensitivity. They also are great for managing blood pressure, decreasing risks for heart attack and stroke, and mitigating inflammation in the body.
- Fish (e.g. tuna, salmon, trout, halibut) - Fish that are high in omega-3 and fatty acids are great as they don’t affect blood sugar. They allow you to feel full without causing blood sugar spikes and have many other health benefits, especially for your heart.
- Leafy greens - Green, leafy, and non-starchy vegetables are high in fiber and many other vitamins and minerals known to help lower blood sugar. These also have a low glycemic index and can be used for meals or snacks.
- Chia seeds - These little seeds are high in a variety of vitamins, minerals, fiber, calcium, omega-3, and antioxidants. These have a low glycemic index and not only help lower your blood sugar, but also blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Cacao - Although chocolate is loved by many, those with high blood sugar may feel left out. Eating cacao seeds or higher concentrations of dark chocolate can be beneficial to blood sugar. These are full of antioxidants and contain a protein that regulates glucose products while being a delicious replacement.
- Berries - Berries are high in fiber and antioxidants. They don’t raise blood sugar as high as other fruits and contain enzymes that can prevent blood sugar spikes later because they are digested slowly. Other studies show that adding blueberries’ bioactive compounds can improve insulin sensitivity.
- Nuts - Almonds and other nuts are great for reducing blood sugar. They have a low glycemic index. Individuals who eat two ounces per day tend to have lower glucose levels than those who don’t.
Exercise benefits nearly every system in your body. Because it helps your body be less insulin-resistant, it can be an effective tool for lowering blood sugar. Physical activity is a great way to reduce spikes, regulate your blood sugar, and be healthier overall.
Not only does exercise help prevent spikes, it can keep your blood sugar lower by using energy (i.e. sugar) that you have taken in.
- Walking, running, and biking are great exercise choices.
- A new study shows that dancing is a great way to lower blood sugar and is more effective than some gym equipment.
Lower Weight = Lower Sugar
What we all love to hear: “lose some weight.” Losing weight brings multiple health benefits such as lower blood sugar, a healthier heart, better joints, and improved mental health.
The weight control can also help with blood sugar control. In fact, weight loss can control your blood sugar, as well as prevent diabetes. A recent study showed a 50% reduction in the risk of developing diabetes in people who lose a small amount of weight.
Natural Supplements to Lower Blood Sugar
There are several natural alternatives to lower blood sugar. Each contains a combination of ingredients shown to have lower blood sugar without the risks of synthetic alternatives.
This product contains potent antioxidants that help increase insulin sensitivity and encourage your body and muscles to use the sugar you have taken in. It also offers support for other diabetic symptoms.
R-alpha lipoic acid is an antioxidant produced in the liver that is found in certain foods. Those who have tried this acid found their blood sugar and A1C levels decreased over time. The acid prevents damage that comes from high blood sugar levels, as well.
Gymnema is an herb that provides glucose metabolism support and aids digestion. It can help manage blood sugar levels, reduce the risk for heart disease, and help your body produce insulin naturally.
Gymnema has been used in traditional Indian medicine and in Hindi means “sugar destroyer.” It helps reduce blood sugar and A1C, while reducing cravings and promoting insulin production in your pancreas.
This product can lower blood sugar through herbal components. It contains chromium, Gymnema extract, bitter melon extract, AND R-alpha lipoic acid.
Chromium helps the body use carbohydrates and reduces A1C levels. It encourages the body to produce its own insulin and lowers blood sugar. Bitter melon has been shown to have insulin-like effects on the body and can help lower blood sugar.
Chromium is a natural mineral your body uses for many functions, including lowering blood sugar. Chromium encourages your body to use the carbohydrates available and stimulates your pancreas to reduce insulin. These are great methods to help control blood sugar and maintain normal metabolism.
This supplement is designed to combat issues associated with metabolic syndromes, insulin resistance, and blood sugar control. Gymnema, bitter melon, green tea, and milk thistle are just some of the ingredients that help control blood sugar over time and prevent spikes. It can also improve your immune system and increase your sensitivity to insulin.
Cinnamon has been shown to lower blood sugar and improve control over diabetes. It helps make the body more responsive to insulin and forces sugar into cells to be used, instead of allowing them to stay in the bloodstream. Patients who took cinnamon extracts and bark also found improvement in their A1C levels.