Blood sugar, or blood glucose, is the amount of sugar (glucose) present in the blood. Sugar is a major source of energy for every cell in your body. The sugar that is not needed to fuel your body right away gets stored in cells for later use. But even though we need sugar for energy, too much glucose in the blood can be harmful to the body.
For most healthy individuals, the normal blood sugar levels are:
- 72 to 99 mg/dL when fasting (not eat or drink anything except water for at least 8 hours), or
- Less than 140 mg/dL two hours after eating.
A fasting blood sugar level from 100 to 125 mg/dL or a random blood sugar level between 140 and 199 mg/dL is considered prediabetes. If your fasting blood sugar is over 126 mg/dL or a random blood sugar level of 200 mg/dL or higher indicates you have diabetes.
People with diabetes have an increased risk of developing a number of serious complications such as heart disease, kidney failure, blindness, and lower limb amputation. But the good news is, you can delay or prevent the complications by keeping your blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible.
Here are 10 natural ways to lower your blood sugar levels and reduce your risk of developing diabetes:
1. Exercise regularly
Exercise is a great way to lower you blood sugar. When you exercise, your body use more glucose for energy. Over time, this can lower your blood sugar levels.
Exercise can also help to increase insulin sensitivity. Increased insulin sensitivity means the body will be able to use glucose more effectively.
Try to aim for at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week. You may start slowly with as little as 5 to 10 minutes of exercise per day, gradually building up to your goal.
Good forms of aerobic exercise include brisk walking, running, swimming, dancing, and cycling.
2. Limit your carbohydrate intake
Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for human body. They are converted into glucose and used by the cells for energy. But when you eat too many at once, it can raise your blood sugar which lead to high blood sugar.
So, it’s best to limit your carb intake. A 2004 study found that a diet of 20% carbs, 30% protein, and 50% fat lowered fasting blood sugar and kept blood sugar from spiking after meals.
3. Eat more high-fiber foods
Fiber can slow down the absorption of sugar which helps prevent blood sugar from spiking. It also slows the rate at which carbohydrates are absorbed into the bloodstream. This can help in managing diabetes.
A study published in 2018 suggests that a high-fiber diet can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 20–30 percent .
Foods that are high in fiber include whole grains, vegetables, legumes and fruits. However, it is advised to eat fruits in moderation.
4. Choose foods with a low Glycemic Index (GI)
Glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly a food can raise your blood sugar levels.
In general, foods with a low glycemic index raises the blood sugar slowly, while the foods with a high GI may cause a rapid rise in blood sugar.
Foods with a low glycemic index include oats, pasta, sweet potatoes, corns, yams, barley, beans, peas, lentils, legumes, most fruits and non-starchy vegetables.
It’s also important to pay attention to portion sizes. This means limiting the amount of calorie intake.
5. Drink plenty of water
Drinking water can help you stay hydrated and keep your blood sugar levels within healthy limits. In addition to that, drinking more water will help your kidneys flush out the excess blood sugar through urine.
One observational study showed that those who drank more water had a lower risk of developing hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) .
6. Manage stress
Stress can also affect your blood sugar levels. When you are stressed, your body secretes cortisol and glucagon, which can cause blood sugar levels to go up.
Moreover, cortisol decreases insulin sensitivity of receptor cells, which decreases the glucose uptake by cells and increases blood sugar.
Try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and meditation or listen to soothing music to reduce your stress. Learn more about stress management techniques.
7. Get enough sleep
Sleep can affect your blood sugar levels, and your blood glucose control can also affect your sleep. It’s a vicious cycle. As the amount of sleep decreases, blood sugar increases.
Sleep deprivation decreases the release of growth hormones and increases cortisol levels. Both of these play an important role in blood sugar control.
Furthermore, lack of sleep can stimulate the release of appetite hormones, which causes you to eat more and gain weight.
Most experts recommend that adults aged 18–60 years should get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night to promote optimal health and well-being.
8. Control your weight
If you are overweight, weight loss is the most important way to help normalize your blood sugar levels.
When you shed some pounds, your body becomes more efficient and can use the insulin more easily. As a result, you get better control of your blood sugar.
A review of studies published in 2016 in the journal Obesity Reviews found that people with type 2 diabetes who participated in certain commercial weight-loss programs saw their A1C levels reduced after 6 or 12 months .
Weight management requires ongoing efforts, including healthier eating, being physically active, and getting enough sleep. Learn how to lose weight fast and safely.
9. Eat chromium-rich foods
Chromium is an essential trace mineral that is needed by the body for maintaining blood sugar. It is also required for the metabolism of various biomolecules, including carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids.
Chromium supplementation has been shown to be helpful in the prevention and control of diabetes.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics highlighted that supplementing chromium to patients with diabetes led to significant improvements in the levels of blood sugar, fasting blood glucose, HbA1c, and triglycerides .
Chromium-rich foods include meats, egg yolks, oats, broccoli, green beans, nuts, and whole-grain products.
Chromium is available in supplement form but it should be taken with caution and never in excessive amount. Do not take it if you have kidney or liver disease.
10. Increase magnesium intake
Magnesium has also been shown to benefit blood sugar levels, and magnesium deficiency has been linked to a higher risk of developing diabetes.
In a 2016 meta-analysis, oral administration of magnesium resulted in improvements in the glucose parameters in patients with diabetes and improved insulin-sensitivity parameters in those at high risk of diabetes .
In a 2007 meta-analysis found that magnesium intake and the incidence of type 2 diabetes are inversely related .
You can increase your magnesium intake by consuming bananas, beans, nuts, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables.