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8 Tips to Lower Blood Sugar Levels

Authored by The Rx Advocates, / Medically Reviewed by Dr. Conor Sheehy, PharmD, BCPS
Last Updated: December 6, 2021

Keeping blood sugar levels in the normal range is an important thing. Many people do not even think about their blood sugar. For those who have prediabetes or have been diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, it is something to think about every day.

The National Diabetes Statistics Report from 2020 reports 34.2 million Americans have diabetes. Around 88 million adults have prediabetes, many do not know they are at risk.

 

What is Prediabetes? 

Prediabetes is when a person has higher than normal blood sugar, but it is not high enough to be considered diabetes. It is good to catch high blood sugar levels at this stage. Prediabetes can be reversed with lifestyle changes.

If prediabetes is not caught in time, it becomes Type 2 diabetes.

 

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

In type 2 diabetes, blood sugar levels are very high, causing damage to blood vessels, the heart, eyes, kidneys, and nervous system. Those are very good reasons to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

Blood sugar levels stay high with type 2 diabetes because the cells do not respond to insulin well any longer. Insulin moves blood sugar into the cells to be burned as fuel. Sometimes the pancreas does not produce enough insulin.

People may not realize they have type 2 diabetes until their body has received a significant amount of damage. Symptoms do not show up early. Signs of diabetes can include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased hunger
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet

 

Tips to Lower Blood Sugar

Keeping blood sugar levels in the normal range prevents damage to the other parts of the body. 

 

1. Eat Balanced Meals at Regular Times

One way to keep blood sugar levels steady is to eat smaller meals at regular times. When and what a person eats causes blood sugar levels to change. If someone goes too long without eating, blood sugar levels drop. Low blood sugar can be dangerous.

Eating huge meals or meals that have large amounts of carbohydrates can raise blood sugar levels too high. Meal planning and portion control help keep everything running at a steady pace.

2. Increase Fiber Intake

Dietary fiber has multiple health benefits. It helps prevent or relieve constipation. It can also help people maintain a healthy weight and lower their risk of heart disease and some cancers. Fiber slows down carbohydrate digestion and sugar absorption. This results in a more gradual rise in blood sugar levels. 

High fiber foods include:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole-grain products

3. Eat Low Glycemic Foods

The glycemic index (GI) rates foods based on how quickly they raise blood sugar levels compared to 50 grams of pure glucose. Pure glucose has a GI value of 100. Eating lower glycemic foods help because they are slowly digested, causing blood sugar levels to rise slowly. 

Lower GI foods have a rating of 55 or lower. Medium GI foods are rated 56-69, and high GI foods have a rating of 70 or more.

4. Lose a Little Bit of Weight

Being overweight is one of the main risks of insulin resistance. Losing some weight lowers that risk and improves blood sugar levels. A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine showed that losing 5-10% of body weight improved insulin sensitivity.

5. Drink Enough Water

Making sure to drink enough water can make a difference. A study showed that the more water participants drank, the less likely they were to have high blood sugar levels. People who drink less than a half-liter of water per day were at an increased risk for high blood sugar levels.

6. Exercise Regularly

Exercise can immediately reduce blood sugar levels. It takes the stored form of glucose and uses it for energy. The next time someone eats carbohydrates, there is a place to store the excess. This improves insulin sensitivity. This can be an excellent way to reverse prediabetes along with eating well.

7. Get Enough Sleep

Not getting enough sleep affects body chemistry. A study published in 2015 suggests that chronic sleep loss may contribute to the risk of type 2 diabetes. 

Volunteers who slept for only four hours three nights in a row had higher levels of fatty acids in their blood. This reduces insulin’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels by 23%.

8. Manage Stress Levels

When a person is stressed, blood sugar levels rise. The Diabetes Teaching Center at the University of California explains that when stress levels go up, insulin levels go down. Other hormones go up and the liver releases glucose, to get the body ready to fight or flee.

Choosing a way to manage stress can help people lower blood sugar levels. Some ways to manage stress can be:

  • Meditation
  • Going for a walk
  • Other forms of exercise
  • Connecting with supportive people
  • Participating in a hobby
  • Relaxing muscles and deep breathing 

9. Diabetes Medication

There is not a cure for diabetes. Sometimes type 2 diabetes can be controlled with diet and exercise. Other times that is not quite enough. At this point, doctors will prescribe medication to help keep blood sugar levels in the normal range to prevent complications from diabetes.

Some common diabetes medications include:

Get Help Paying for Prescription Diabetes Medications

Prescription medications are expensive, especially if they are not covered by insurance. Some people might have very high copays. No one should have to decide if they can afford the medicine they need to keep their blood sugar levels stable.

At The Rx Advocates, we help people get connected to Patient Assistance Programs. These programs are offered by pharmaceutical companies. People may not know about them or have a hard time getting into them.

The Rx Advocates take care of all the paperwork and phone calls for one low monthly fee. Please contact us for more information today.

 

Sources:

CDC. National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/features/diabetes-stat-report.html.

Mayo Clinic. Prediabetes. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/prediabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20355278.

Medical News Today. Effects of Diabetes on the Body and Organs. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317483.

Mayo Clinic. Type 2 Diabetes. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-2-diabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20351193.

CDC. Diabetes Meal Planning. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/eat-well/meal-plan-method.html.

Mayo Clinic. Nutrition and Healthy Eating. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983.

Healthline. A Beginner’s Guide to the Low Glycemic Diet. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/low-glycemic-diet#the-glycemic-index-gi.

NCIB. Dietary Weight-Loss and Exercise Effects on Insulin Resistance in Postmenopausal Women. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3185302/.

American Diabetes Association. Low Water INtake and Risk for New-Onset Hyperglycemia. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3185302/.

Everyday Health. How Exercise Helps Prevent and Manage Type 2 Diabetes. https://www.everydayhealth.com/type-2-diabetes/how-exercise-helps-prevent-and-manage-type-2-diabetes/.

NCIB. Sleep Restriction Increases Free Fatty Acids in Healthy Men. https://www.everydayhealth.com/type-2-diabetes/how-exercise-helps-prevent-and-manage-type-2-diabetes/.

Diabetes Online Education. Blood Sugar and Stress. https://dtc.ucsf.edu/types-of-diabetes/type2/understanding-type-2-diabetes/how-the-body-processes-sugar/blood-sugar-stress/.

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