If you have diabetes or other medical conditions like nondiabetic hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia, you need to watch your blood sugar levels. Or, if you have a history of these disorders in your family, you might want to take preventative action to avoid them.
Whatever the case may be, certain simple lifestyle modifications can make it easier to control your blood glucose levels. Here are some areas to focus on if you want to improve your well-being and possibly reduce your dependence on medications.
1. Nutrition and Hydration
To avoid spikes in your blood sugar, eat a nutritious diet rich in foods that your body breaks down more slowly. Aim to eat mostly foods with low to moderate glycemic index (GI) scores. These include plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, legumes, and other high fiber foods. Fatty fish, unsweetened greek yogurt, and other high-protein, low-fat foods are good choices too.
It’s important to consider the specific nutrients in the foods and supplements you consume, which can have sugar stabilizing properties. For example, probiotics like apple cider vinegar can help reduce your glucose levels after meals. If you can’t stomach drinking straight vinegar, you can try adding ACV gummies to your daily routine. Learn more about them, visit this site.
Other micronutrients found in food or in supplement form may also help control blood sugar. These include magnesium, aloe vera, vitamin D, folate, berberine, and Omega 3 fatty acids. Certain herbs and spices, like cinnamon, fenugreek, and ginseng, can have a beneficial effect. You can take these ingredients in capsule form, add them to food, or drink them in tea.
In addition to what you eat, pay attention to how much and when. Reducing your portions and calorie intake can be helpful in controlling your blood sugar. Similarly, consuming carbohydrates earlier in the day may lead to better blood sugar control compared to consuming them later in the evening. Make sure to drink plenty of water, since dehydration can lead to more concentrated blood glucose levels. Finally, limit your alcohol consumption, which can destabilize your blood sugar, especially if you drink beer or sugary drinks.
2. Physical Activity, Stress, and Sleep
Moderate exercise lowers your blood sugar levels by increasing your insulin sensitivity. During and after activity, your muscles draw more glucose in from your bloodstream. Take note, though: exercising too intensely can actually increase your blood sugar levels temporarily. This is because strenuous exercise can cause increased stress levels which actually cause blood sugar to rise (see below).
Remember that physical exercise doesn’t just mean sweating it out at the gym for an hour or more a day. In fact, you don’t need to go to the gym at all if you don’t enjoy that type of exercise. Any moderate activity, like walking, dancing, or playing sports can have a positive impact on your blood sugar. So pick something you’ll enjoy, and can easily stick to doing regularly, for better results.
Another benefit of regular — again, moderate — exercise is that it reduces overall stress levels. The stress hormones epinephrine (adrenaline), norepinephrine, and cortisol can all cause blood sugar to rise. When you have ongoing stress, the levels of these hormones in the body may be higher than normal overall. These can lead to elevated blood glucose levels over time.
In addition to exercise, consider other means of keeping your stress levels low. These could include mediating, journaling, or engaging in relaxing hobbies. Make sure you get plenty of sleep as well, as too little sleep can lead to increased insulin resistance. If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, consult a healthcare provider about how to improve your sleep.
3. Monitoring and Medication
Depending on your medical conditions or family history, you may need to take more drastic measures to manage your blood sugar. If you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, you may require regular monitoring and treatment. To balance your blood sugar, you’ll need to check your blood glucose levels continuously, many times every single day.
If you have diabetes, you may need to take at least one daily oral medication. Or you may need to give yourself insulin injections or use an insulin pump to balance your blood sugar. In some cases, you may be able to benefit from weight loss surgery. A lower body weight can mean more control over your blood sugar levels.
In one experimental treatment for diabetes, called an islet cell transplant, pancreatic cells are taken from a deceased organ donor. These cells are then infused through a catheter into a diabetic patient’s liver. These cells then produce insulin in the patient’s body, which can temporarily control blood sugar levels. Patients who have this procedure may be able to stop taking insulin or use fewer injections.
Certain medications for other conditions can cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate. These include certain antibiotics, antidepressants, corticosteroids, protease inhibitors, birth control pills, and thyroid hormones. Your doctor may tell you to monitor your blood sugar more closely if you’re diabetic and prescribed any of these.
When to See a Healthcare Provider
Always see a healthcare provider if you think you may have symptoms of diabetes or another serious blood sugar issue. Symptoms can include frequent urination, blurred vision, numbness or tingling in the extremities, extreme thirst, fatigue, and mood changes. While lifestyle modifications can help balance blood sugar, they’re not a substitute for appropriate medical care.
Whether or not you have a diagnosis, be on the lookout for symptoms of an acute diabetic, hyperglycemic, or hypoglycemic emergency. If you experience extreme dizziness, confusion, a racing heartbeat, difficulty breathing, or other serious symptoms, call 911 or go to the ER. Avoid trying to manage acute illness with lifestyle modifications or natural remedies alone.