The Ultimate Guide to Lowering Blood Sugar Naturally
About one in three people in the United States have high blood sugar, and over 30% have prediabetes, most people don't even know about it.
If you've been experiencing abnormal symptoms for yourself on a daily basis, you should talk to your doctor to learn more about your blood sugar levels. If you already know you have high blood sugar, continue reading this article to learn about naturally lowering blood sugar levels in your body.
We explain the importance of managing your blood sugar, the causes of the fluctuations, and how to lower blood sugar naturally.
The Importance of Managing Blood Sugar
So why is managing your blood sugar so important? If you don't manage your blood sugar, you can cause more serious health problems later in life.
If you continue to have high blood sugar, you may experience heart disease, diabetes, and kidney disease as you get older. Other risk factors include gum infections, bone problems, nerve damage, clouding of your eyes, and blurred vision. You may also notice that your energy levels and mood fluctuate when you do not properly look after your levels.
To manage your levels, you should be sure to monitor your blood sugar levels at different points throughout the day, making sure they are in a normal range.
What Causes High Blood Sugar?
There are a variety of factors that impact sugar levels in your body. From your everyday eating habits to lack of sleep and too much stress, your body's hormones will respond differently, which can raise your blood sugar.
You can experience high blood sugar when you are:
- Using certain medications with side effects
- Leading an inactive lifestyle
- Experiencing injury
- Going through emotional trauma or increased stress
Let's walk through the process to understand exactly how your lifestyle and food choices can cause high blood sugar.
When you consume food, your body breaks down a lot of it into glucose for energy. However, your body cannot actually use that energy unless the glucose can go into the cells of your body. This only occurs with help from insulin.
When your body senses that you have excess glucose floating around your bloodstream, it signals your pancreas to release the insulin to unlock the gates of your cells to let the glucose flow in. This is the process of regulating your blood sugar levels.
If you are suffering from high blood sugar levels, your body is not properly regulating the secretion of insulin in your body to reduce the glucose in your bloodstream. This is why some people with diabetes need to inject themselves with insulin to help control the levels of glucose in their bodies.
What Is a Normal Blood Sugar Level?
Before you are able to manage your blood sugar levels properly, you need to know what "normal" means. Although we outline what a blood sugar level target is below, you should also make sure to talk to your doctor. Your normal may be different than someone else that is a different age or lives a different lifestyle. Genetics will also play a role.
Typically, you should target your levels to be 70 to 130 mg/dL before a meal and less than 180 mg/dL two hours after consuming a meal. You should continue to monitor these levels and take any precautions or necessary changes at the moment to keep your blood sugar in these ranges.
What Causes Blood Sugar Swings?
There are so many different reasons that you may have blood sugar swings. You may eat something that causes your blood sugar to spike and then wait too long to eat the next time, which will create a drop in your blood sugar.
Although coffee has its benefits for sometimes helping to regulate blood sugar levels, it is also known to cause a spike in blood sugar because of caffeine intake. The same goes for some teas and energy drinks with caffeine. The key is to balance your intake to make sure that you are not consuming too much, which will help stabilize your blood sugar levels.
It's also important to keep an eye on sugar-free foods. Even though they are sugar-free, they most likely have sugar alcohols or a lot of starches that can cause spikes in your blood sugar levels. Make sure to read the labels to understand what you are consuming first.
Even without sugar, there are other foods that can cause your blood sugar levels to rise.
Dealing with the stress of being sick and your body trying to fight the infection, a difficult job or boss, or an emotional and traumatic experience will also cause blood sugar swings.
If you are experiencing an illness, you may be on certain medications as well. These medications, especially steroids, can impact blood sugar levels. Antidepressants and birth control can also affect your blood sugar levels, so before going on these medications, make sure to talk to your doctor about possible interactions.
If you are constantly suffering from swings in your blood sugar levels, there are some things you can do to help lower them and manage the consistency.
How Do You Feel When Your Blood Sugar Is Too High or Too Low?
There are many different ways you may feel when your blood sugar is not where it should be at a normal level. This may differ depending on who you are, but there are typically signs that will indicate that your blood sugar is off.
You may begin to notice that you are more tired than usual and are having more difficulty concentrating on tasks if your blood sugar levels are not normal. You may also be way more thirsty than usual and urinate more than usual as well.
Over time, you may develop cravings for different foods, which is your body's way of telling you that it is trying to regulate itself. Because your blood sugar levels are off, you may also experience mood swings and headaches. Eventually, you may experience weight gain.
A few other symptoms that you may experience are an increased heart rate, and your breath may have a fruity sensation to it.
In addition to these symptoms, if your blood sugar is too low, you may experience nausea, confusion, hunger, weakness, and sweating. It is typically easier to determine if your blood sugar is low because it means you need to eat to replenish your body. When your blood sugar is too high, you've consumed foods that are not helping your body regulate as well as dealing with stress or lack of sleep.
When Should You Check Your Blood Sugar?
Checking your blood sugar is extremely important to do if you suffer from low or high blood sugar. This will help you regulate your blood sugar to prevent more significant problems from occurring.
While you check your blood sugar levels, you should also make sure you are keeping a log of it to see how your daily habits, lifestyle, and food choices are affecting your blood sugar levels.
If you are in need of managing your blood sugar levels, you should keep an eye on your levels by self-monitoring. You can do this by checking your blood sugar with a glucometer. The best times to do this are:
- When you get up in the morning
- Before a meal
- Two hours after a meal
- Before you go to sleep for the night
- Before and after you exercise
Monitoring your blood sugar levels while you exercise is important to make sure you are keeping yourself safe and not overdoing it. It will also tell you if you need to eat a snack right away or before you even start.
If you do happen to be on medication and change your dose or the type of medication, you should also regulate your blood sugar levels more often after this change. There may be changes in your blood sugar when you change your medicines or doses, so it's always important to keep an eye on this.
How Do Carbs Affect Blood Sugar?
Carbohydrates are the key to how your blood sugar levels fluctuate in your body.
When you consume carbs, the body immediately breaks them down into sugar in the body. The sugar then enters the bloodstream, which is what causes your blood sugar levels to rise.
When the body recognizes that there is a rise in sugar in the bloodstream, your body will then create insulin to enter the bloodstream to help your cells absorb glucose. Once this happens, your body will register that there is less sugar floating around your blood. Then, the body will signal the pancreas to make glucagon, which will signal the liver to release stored sugar.
By eating carbohydrates, your body responds in this way every time to regulate your blood sugar levels. However, the type of carb that you consume will have an impact on your body's response to insulin and glucose levels.
A simple carbohydrate is only made of one type of sugar. These carbs are quickly absorbed and broken down into the body as sugar. This creates a quick rise in glucose in the bloodstream and more insulin production.
This quick process of carbs breaking down into sugar can overwhelm the body and have adverse health effects.
More complex carbohydrates take longer to digest because they contain more than just sugar, like fiber and vitamins.
Because of how carbohydrates can affect someone's blood sugar, the glycemic index was created to determine which carbs are more likely to digest quickly and raise your blood sugar and the ones that will not. The glycemic index ranks carbs on a scale from 0 to 100 based on how fast they will release sugar into the bloodstream.
Eating a lot of high GI foods, which range from 70-100 on the scale, puts you at a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease, and being overweight.
It is important to note that the glycemic index of foods does not directly correlate with their health benefits. For instance, some fruits are extremely high with their glycemic index but are still considered healthy. So what actually determines the GI of food?
The way food is processed will impact the GI. More processed foods have higher glycemic indexes. The physical form of different types of food will also impact their glycemic index. The ripeness of the fruit, fat content, and fiber content will all also affect the glycemic index since they will determine how one digests it.
How Can I Reduce My Blood Sugar Naturally?
To reduce your blood sugar naturally, you have to adopt a healthier lifestyle and more overall healthy habits. By getting enough sleep, exercising more, and watching your diet, you can drastically improve your blood sugar levels.
Getting enough sleep each night has many more health benefits than just reducing your blood sugar levels. Aim to get anywhere from 7 to 9 hours per night.
If you do not get enough sleep, your body will not function properly with how sensitive you are to insulin. Your regulation will be off with your hormones that can affect your mood, health, and overall weight.
A lack of sleep will also promote your body to create more cortisol, the stress hormone, which will increase your blood sugar levels even more.
To get more sleep, avoid consuming alcohol or caffeine too close to bedtime. You should also avoid looking at TV screens, phone screens, or laptop screens before bed, as this can interfere with your circadian rhythm. Most importantly, try to wake up and go to bed at the same time every day to stay in a routine because this will help you sleep better as well.
This may be a lot easier said than done. But reducing stress can drastically improve your health all around. When you are stressed, your body releases glucagon and cortisol, which increase your blood sugar levels and can also cause inflammation.
If there is excess inflammation in the body, the body will increase sugar production. This occurs because the body needs sugar to develop an immune response to help the inflammation go back down.
Reducing your stress may look different to everyone. Some people may be stressed by their financial situation, while others may be stressed by their own children. Some may have added stress from their long hours at their job, and others may feel like they are not living up to their potential.
Whatever the reason for stress, you have to lower it to reduce your blood sugar levels. A few ways to do this are:
- Practice mindfulness and meditation daily as well as breathing exercises
- Exercise more daily
- Reduce the triggers that are creating stress in your life
- Set goals for yourself for the short and long term
- Practice self-care, which may look different to everyone
- Participate in yoga
Once you start reducing your stress, you will notice that this is the key to lowering your blood sugar naturally. By reducing stress, you'll even begin to sleep better and incorporate more healthy habits into your daily life.
Exercising regularly will help your body regulate your insulin sensitivity, which means your body can easily use the sugar in your bloodstream. Your body will also start to use blood sugar for your muscle activity and energy levels. The more active you are, the more your body will create insulin to regulate your sugar levels.
Participating in different kinds of exercise will also have other effects on your body. You should try out weight lifting and strength training as well as cardio activities like jogging, walking, and biking. You can also try out dancing or swimming if the others aren't for you!
Mixing the different types of exercise will benefit you the most. The best way to do this is to talk to your doctor to help you put together an exercise routine that is right for you.
As long as you are being more active than before, you will be on your way to lowering your blood sugar levels. On average, you should plan to get at least 30 minutes of moderate activity per day.
It's important to note that exercise will only temporarily reduce and regulate your blood sugar levels. If you stop exercising, your body will go back to doing exactly what it was before.
While exercising, you should also keep an eye on your blood sugar levels to make sure they are not fluctuating too much.
When it comes to what you eat, you need to ensure you are eating a proper diet for you. Everyone is a bit different, so you may need to experiment to find what is right for your body. You also want to make sure you are eating enough to keep a stable blood sugar once you get the hang of lowering it. There are a few main things to focus on when trying to lower your blood sugar naturally.
1. Eat Healthy Carbs with a Low GI
Not all carbs are made equally. In general, carbohydrates are a macronutrient that the body needs to function, but too many fast carbs or eating carbs without balancing your diet can cause problems.
Because most carbs turn into glucose in the body, carbs are a huge factor for how stable your blood sugar levels stay. While each person is different because of who they are, their genetics, and their weight, the amount of carbs you need to eat varies. However, it is recommended that about 45% of your daily diet is healthy carbs.
You should limit processed carbs as part of your carbohydrate intake for the day. These include:
- White pasta
- White rice
- Breakfast cereals
- Sweet desserts
Instead of eating these refined carbs, you need healthier carbs to keep your blood sugar levels from spiking. Surprisingly, fruits and vegetables fall under this category. However, not even healthy carbs are made equally.
Some carbohydrates have a higher GI than others, or glycemic index rating, which indicates how quickly the sugar will release into your bloodstream. The higher the glycemic index, the faster it will spike your blood sugar levels. Watermelon and pineapple are healthy for you but do have a high GI which means if you have high blood sugar, you should try to avoid eating these too often, or you should pair them appropriately with protein.
The following healthy carbs as part of your diet can help lower blood sugar:
- Whole grains like oatmeal
- Fresh fruits
- Legumes like lentils and kidney beans
Sticking with healthy carbs and pairing them with protein and a bit of fat can naturally lower blood sugar levels in your body. Your blood sugar will also remain more stable.
2. Eat More Fiber
Eating more fiber will help stabilize your blood sugar levels because fiber does not automatically turn to glucose, and it aids with slower digestion because it is harder to break down. Fiber is one of the best foods that lower blood sugar.
Since your digestion is slower, you should not see a spike in your blood sugar right after eating. To do this, eat more of the following in your diet:
- Pears and strawberries
- Brussel sprouts
- Oats & Whole Grains
There are other options to get more fiber in your diet, but these are some of the most common. Another added perk of eating more fiber is that it can also regulate your weight.
3. Don't Eat Naked Carbs
Naked carbs are carbs without any protein, fat, or fiber. These carbs digest quickly and can lead to a blood sugar spike. Some examples of naked carbs are soda or diet soda, candy, and white bread.
Should you avoid naked carbohydrates? The answer is a resounding yes! Naked carbs have the highest glycemic index, which is why they should be avoided. They are digested and absorbed in your body faster than your body can handle them.
Pairing protein, fiber, and healthy fats with carbs help to slow down the digestion of carbohydrates and prevent a blood sugar spike. So while you do not need to cut these carbs out completely, make sure you do not overindulge in them and that you pair them with other macronutrients. Some of the naked carbs and protein pairings you can do are soda with cheese, candy with nuts, white bread with turkey.
4. Keep a Diary of What You Eat
By keeping a diary of what you eat, you will be able to manage your blood sugar. You will also learn more about how to lower blood sugar based on what you are eating because you can directly see the results of what you are eating when you jot it down.
If you eat something and feel your blood sugar rise, you should jot that down next to the food. From then on, you are able to monitor the effects of that food on your body.
5. Drink More Water
When you drink more water, your body is able to flush out the excess sugar and toxins in your bloodstream. It can also help you manage your blood sugar levels enough to prevent diabetes. People who drink more water are less likely to have high blood sugar than their counterparts that do not drink enough water.
Drinking more water will also keep you away from some of the unhealthy beverages you may want to consume, like soda or alcohol.
In addition, drinking more water will reduce the chances of dehydration occurring, which will put your body through a stress response. If this happens, your body will begin to release stress hormones which will increase your blood sugar levels.
6. Watch How Much You Eat
Just as much as watching what you eat, watching how much you eat is just as important. A huge factor of how much blood sugar levels fluctuate in your body is your weight.
Being overweight can have many negative effects on your blood sugar levels in your body. The more you gain weight, the less sensitive your body becomes to insulin production. That means that insulin will not properly regulate how your body responds to having too much sugar in the body.
Even if you are not overweight, watching how much you eat is still important. By eating smaller meals throughout the day, you can more regulate the spike in your blood sugar levels. You still have to make sure that these meals are healthy and work with the diet you need to reduce blood sugar in your body.
You should also focus on eating more at the start of the day and less as the day goes on because your body becomes more insulin resistant as the day goes on. This means that your blood sugar levels will more likely spike after a nighttime meal than breakfast, for instance.
Best Foods For Managing Blood Sugar Naturally
If you're interested in managing your blood sugar naturally through the types of foods you eat, there are plenty of ways to do so. Not only should you be eating certain foods to manage your levels, but you should also be watching the amount of food you consume per meal.
Foods Rich in Chromium and Magnesium
One way to manage your blood sugar is by eating foods rich in chromium and magnesium. These micronutrients are known to help regulate blood sugar levels by improving your metabolism. A magnesium deficiency is also linked to higher rates of diabetes, so making sure you get enough of this micronutrient is very important.
For foods rich in magnesium, focus on consuming dark, leafy greens, pumpkin seeds, tuna, dark chocolate, avocados, and bananas. To add more chromium into your diet, make sure to consume enough fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains.
Foods Rich in Fiber
Eating foods rich in fiber is also helpful for managing your blood sugar levels. Fiber can slow the absorption of sugar into the body, which will prevent an excess of sugar from hanging out in your bloodstream. The two different types of fiber are soluble fiber and insoluble fiber, each one having its own benefits.
You can reduce your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes by adding more fiber into your diet.
Eat Low Glycemic Foods
Low glycemic foods will help manage your blood sugar by slowly releasing sugar into your bloodstream instead of inundating your bloodstream with too much sugar at one time.
This list of foods gives you a great idea of what you should consume to keep your blood sugar level. Some of the best options are starchy vegetables, beans, legumes, and nuts.
Experiment with Other Foods
There are other foods out there that have been proven to have a lot of health benefits. By trying those out and adding them to your diet, you may notice a huge change in your blood sugar level management.
One of the ones you need to try is apple cider vinegar. This vinegar is shown to reduce blood sugar levels while also increasing your sensitivity to insulin production. This means that your body will start to lower your blood sugar, then produce more insulin to further reduce the blood sugar by allowing the sugar to absorb into your cells.
It's easy to incorporate apple cider vinegar in a salad dressing or mix it with some water before eating a meal. If you're brave, you can also try taking a shot of apple cider vinegar to get it over quickly, as it has quite a potent flavor.
Another food you need to add to your diet is cinnamon. Cinnamon is shown to reduce blood sugar levels by decreasing resistance to insulin in your body. It also slows down the process of carbohydrates breaking down in your body, which will slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream.
You can add cinnamon to your smoothies, sprinkle it on your oatmeal, or even add it to some different entrees.
The Role of BCAAs and Managing Blood Sugar Levels
You may be wondering what BCAAs even is. That's a great question! BCAAs are branched-chain amino acids. With over 20 amino acids making up the proteins in our bodies, BCAAs make up three of the nine essential amino acids in the body.
These amino acids are typically found in protein-rich foods like meat and eggs. It can also be found in:
- Greek yogurt
- Canned tuna
However, it can also be found in powder form as a supplement to ensure you are getting enough if you do not eat these other foods as often.
By consuming BCAAs, it can help increase muscle growth through protein synthesis and help with recovery by helping repair damaged muscles. Not only do BCAAs help with your muscle repair and development, but they can also help people who suffer from liver disease.
Since liver disease affects how your body removes toxins from the bloodstream, like sugar, improving liver function will also improve blood sugar levels. Taking BCAAs as supplements can help with the symptoms of managing liver disease, which in part can affect your blood sugar levels.
By adding BCAAs to your diet, you will also see an increase in insulin production, which will also help remove the excess glucose from your system.
In addition to the benefits of BCAAs, consuming proteins or getting BCAAs through protein will help regulate your system from keeping you full for a more extended period of time. If you worry that you are not getting enough protein or enough BCAAs, the supplement is always an option, and there is also a great list of foods for vegans and vegetarians to eat.
What Drinks Lower Blood Sugar?
Besides drinking more water as part of your diet to lower blood sugar, there are also other drinks that are good at naturally reducing blood sugar levels in your body. Try adding these drinks to your diet to lower blood sugar levels in your body naturally.
Barley water is high in fiber, which is recommended for those who suffer from high blood sugar. Not only is it high in fiber, but many antioxidant properties will help keep you from getting sick and further complicating your system's regulating processes.
Green tea has so many health benefits. But in our case, the benefits of green tea on blood sugar are exponential. The green tea will help metabolize glucose in bodies to get it flowing and not stuck in the bloodstream.
There have also been studies conducted that show that consuming green tea can actually lower your risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
However, when drinking green tea, be sure to drink it unsweetened, or that will defeat the entire purpose of consumption!
Drinking black tea will stop rises in blood sugar levels by working on the body's response when releasing insulin. There have been numerous studies that show the positive effect of black tea on preventing diabetes.
The main ingredient in black tea is polyphenols, an antioxidant that can protect against a lot of other harmful diseases.
Drinking peppermint tea is a way to reduce stress in your daily life. By reducing stress, you are less likely to have an unprecedented rise in blood sugar levels.
Coffee consumption has been linked with increasing sugar metabolism rates. This means you are less likely to experience a rise in blood sugar. Just remember, do not drink your coffee with sweeteners.
Good Idea is a sparkling water that has been clinically proven to lower blood sugar by 20-30% in healthy individuals. Each drink contains an effective level of amino acids and chromium shown to lower blood sugar and reduce the metabolism’s response time to convert carbs and sugar to energy. Good Idea is a sparkling water that has been clinically proven to lower blood sugar by 20-30% in healthy individuals. For more information read the science.
What Else Can You Do to Help Manage Blood Sugar Levels?
Along with changing your diet, exercising more regularly, reducing stress levels, and getting more sleep every night, you can continue to make lifestyle changes to manage blood sugar levels. One way to further manage your blood sugar levels is by reducing your alcohol intake on a daily basis since alcohol can create a drop in blood sugar not long after consumption.
Since it may be impossible for you to go out and not have a glass of wine with your friends, here's a guide to help you have a fun night out while also being responsible for your health.
You may not even think of this as a way to manage your blood sugar levels, but doing your everyday household chores can help regulate your body. Emptying the dishwasher, mowing the lawn, and mopping are all moderate activities that provide you with a bit of exercise. However, if it is hot outside, make sure to watch your levels, as heat can make it more challenging to manage your blood sugar.
Additionally, research also shows that a vegan diet may help out with high blood sugar levels or diabetes. This could be due to a higher intake of fibrous foods.
You can also reduce your blood sugar levels by taking certain supplements and vitamins. Some good options are:
- Fish oil
- Vitamin D
- Aloe vera gel
These supplements may aid in your overall health while also reducing your blood sugar levels.
If you are in need of managing your blood sugar levels, you should keep an eye on your levels by self-monitoring. You can do this by checking your blood sugar with a glucometer.
Start Naturally Lowering Blood Sugar in Your Body
It can be scary not to know exactly what is going on in your body. You may not understand the feelings you are experiencing or dealing with and wonder why they are occurring.
If you experience any of the symptoms that we mentioned above, you should talk to your doctor and test for high blood sugar levels.
Remember, there are a variety of ways you can manage your blood sugar. You can start to practice self-care to reduce stress, get to sleep earlier on a nightly basis, and start tracking your diet to consume healthier foods. Maybe you'll even find that you love taking daily walks, which will relieve stress and help manage your blood sugar levels as well.
Everything you do to help your body recover and get healthier is one step closer to naturally lowering your blood sugar. In the end, it’s all about balance and doing what is right for you.