7 Ways to Lower High Blood Sugar
High blood sugar is known medically as hyperglycemia. Those with hyperglycemia have high blood glucose levels due to a problem with insulin. When the body has too little insulin or when it can’t use insulin properly, the blood glucose levels stay high rather than transfer the glucose to cells, resulting in hyperglycemia. If not treated and managed properly, high blood sugar can cause a number of very serious health concerns, so it’s incredibly important that you do whatever necessary to lower high blood sugar. Here are the seven best ways to lower high blood sugar.
- Exercise Regularly
This may, at first, seem to have little to do with your high blood sugar levels. However, exercising regularly is a multi-faceted approach to lower high blood sugar, primarily because it is all about helping your body function better and be healthier. Not only does exercise increase your body’s insulin sensitivity, meaning that your insulin works better at removing glucose from your blood, but it also allows and encourages the body to use sugar for energy, which also lowers blood glucose. Exercising regularly also plays a large role in keeping your stress levels low, maintaining a healthy weight, and consuming a healthy diet. It can also help you sleep better and will make you naturally drink more water. All of these factors are other ways to lower high blood sugar, so when you start with exercise, you give yourself a big head start towards a healthier life and healthier blood sugar levels.
- Watch What You Eat
Even though high blood sugar levels are due primarily to insulin problems, they are also directly linked to what an individual eats. Those who consume more sugars and carbohydrates are more likely to have high blood sugar. There are a number of ways to alter your diet so that you can lower high blood sugar. The first way is simply to reduce your sugar intake. This includes minimizing the amount of foods and beverages you consume with added sugars, such as soda, candy, sweets, and the like. But it also includes reducing the amount of carbohydrates you consume. Try to limit the amount of bread, pasta, cereal, and other grains that you eat, and opt for whole grain choices when you consume these things. Additionally, choose foods with a low glycemic index. This means that these foods may still raise your blood sugar levels, but they will do so slowly or to a much lower level than other foods. Foods with a low glycemic index include leafy greens, sweet potatoes, quinoa, legumes, nuts and seeds, fish, and more. You should also increase your protein intake and up the amount of fiber you’re consuming. Fiber reduces the rate at which sugars break down, leading to fewer high blood sugar spikes, and it is found in things like vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and fruit. Another important part of watching what you eat is controlling your portion sizes. Eating smaller portions throughout the day will reduce your caloric intake and will often lead to weight loss, a common goal for most people wanting to lower high blood sugar.
- Drink More Water
A common symptom of hyperglycemia is excessive thirst, so if you’re trying to lower high blood sugar, you’re likely already drinking a good bit just to curb your thirst. However, with those with hyperglycemia, it’s incredibly important that you are hydrating well. This doesn’t mean that as long as you are drinking anything during the day, you’re fine. It means you should be drinking primarily water. Sugary drinks do far more harm than good when it comes to health and hydration, so avoid sodas, juices, and other sweet beverages. Try to stick to mostly water, and feel free to add some lemon or lime to spice it up a bit. You can also drink unsweetened seltzer water, unsweetened coffee, and unsweetened tea if you need something different. Individuals with high blood sugar should also keep their alcoholic drink consumption as low as possible, with women having no more than one drink a day and men having no more than two, as a general rule. Drinking enough water will help you avoid dehydration, but it also helps your kidneys flush out more sugar through the urine, which can help lower high blood sugar. You should aim to consume half of your body weight in ounces of water each day to improve your health and minimize your risk of diabetes or other blood sugar-related concerns.
- Minimize Stress
When you are stressed out, your body releases several hormones in response, such as cortisol and glucagon. These hormones directly impact your blood sugar levels by causing them to rise. When you can minimize and manage your stress in a healthy way, your blood sugar levels will naturally remain lower and they will have an easier time going back down should they spike for any reason. Some people have found that exercise and healthy eating are vital parts to keeping their stress levels down, and some have utilized yoga, meditation, or other mindfulness practices to minimize stress and live a more peaceful life.
- Get Enough Sleep
Not only does getting enough sleep help reduce your stress levels, but it also helps your body function better. Sleep deprivation can actually cause your blood sugar levels to spike in the same way that insulin resistance does. Additionally, not getting enough sleep increases your appetite, leads to weight gain, and reduces insulin sensitivity, all of which are counterproductive when it comes to trying to lower high blood sugar. When you’re exhausted, your body naturally secretes more cortisol, which leads to weight gain and higher blood sugar, and your body slows down the release of growth hormones that are vital to your health and your body’s proper function.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight
Being overweight even a little bit can wreak havoc on your health. If you need to lose weight, talk to your doctor about the best way to do so, and if you’re already at a healthy weight, learn how to maintain that. Getting to a healthy weight can help lower high blood sugar and it significantly reduces your likelihood of getting diabetes, even more than medication can. If getting to a healthy weight is too overwhelming for you, keep in mind that losing even 10-20 pounds and maintaining that can still have huge benefits for your health, including better insulin sensitivity and a lower risk of developing diabetes.
- Monitor Your Blood Sugar
This should be a no-brainer, but one of the best ways to lower high blood sugar is simply to monitor it. Be aware of when it spikes and why (if you can pinpoint it), and make changes going forward as necessary. Make wise choices when it comes to your lifestyle and eating habits, and keep a journal of how your blood sugar responds. If you know you drank too much soda one day and your blood sugar reflects that, make a note to minimize your soda intake going forward and stay mindful about making healthy choices. You may also be able to experiment a bit with eating habits and exercise habits, particularly in terms of what time of the day or how often you do each. Just keep track of your blood sugar regularly and be sure to ask your doctor if you have any specific questions about how to continue to lower high blood sugar.