If you have diabetes, or prediabetes, achieving target blood sugar levels will not only help you feel better but also reduce your risk of adverse complications such as infection, heart disease and kidney failure. Here are seven healthy ways that you can lower blood sugars and improve your health. These tips are also effective if you want to reduce your risk of developing diabetes.
Carbs play a big role if you’re trying to lower your blood sugars. There are three main types of carbohydrates: starches, sugars (refined carbohydrates) and fiber. Refined carbs are things like white bread and sugar-sweetened drinks that tend to cause spikes in blood sugar. Instead choose whole unprocessed foods over processed foods and eat non starchy foods. Low carbohydrate diets (less than 130 grams per day) have been shown to lead to reversal of diabetes.
Increase Fiber Intake
Dietary fiber is the part of plant foods which your body can’t digest or absorb. Even though it’s considered a carbohydrate, soluble fiber does not raise blood sugars because it’s not absorbed. It slows carbohydrate digestion and sugar absorption, so blood sugars do not spike as high but rather gradually increase.
According to the Institute of Medicine, the daily fiber for men is 30 to 38 grams and 21 to 25 grams for women. Good sources of fiber are whole grain products, fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds. To increase the fiber in your diet, start your day off with having a high fiber breakfast cereal with at least five grams of fiber and at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables. Meals later in the day can include beans and legumes.
Drink More Water
Drinking water can help control blood glucose levels. When blood sugars are elevated, the kidneys try to remove the excess glucose in the urine. Drinking water helps the glucose to be flushed out of the blood and rehydrates the body. It’s recommended that women have eight, 200 ml glasses per day and men around 10, 200 ml glasses per day. Avoid flavored waters or sweetened sparkling water as some of these contain high amounts of sugar. Plain water is best.
Reduce Stress Levels
Have you ever noticed that your blood sugars spike when you’re upset? This is because stress can raise your blood glucose levels. Stressful situations such as infections, serious illness or significant emotional stress causes the release of hormones such as epinephrine, cortisol and glucagon which makes your liver release more glucose and your body tissues to be less sensitive to insulin. Exercise and relaxation techniques such as yoga or mindfulness meditation can lower blood sugars and improve insulin secretion in chronic diabetes.