To lower your blood sugar, it’s important to exercise regularly and lose weight. You should make sure to drink lots of water, eat less unhealthy carbohydrates, and increase your fiber intake. It’s also important to manage stress if you want to lower blood sugar and keep it under control. High blood sugar occurs when your body cannot convert sugar in the blood to energy for cells. This is a common issue for those with diabetes or those at risk. If you don’t lower your blood sugar, you will be at an increased risk for serious health complications such as heart disease, kidney disease, and vision loss. That’s why, if you already have diabetes, it’s important to frequently check your blood sugar to make sure your levels stay in a normal, healthy range. Plus, about one-third of Americans have prediabetes — or elevated blood sugar levels — and 84% of them don’t know they have it. If you have prediabetes, it’s also important to lower your blood sugar levels in order to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
If you have diabetes or may be at risk, it’s important to talk with your doctor about developing a treatment plan to lower your blood sugar and keep it under control. While these lifestyle changes can be very effective, some people may also need to take medication, such as insulin or metformin, to effectively lower blood sugar.
1. Lose Weight And Exercise
The National Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP) is a partnership of public and private organizations working to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. Partners make it easier for people at risk for type 2 diabetes to participate in evidence-based lifestyle change programs to reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes. The National Diabetes Prevention Program, designed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, aims to help people lower their blood sugar over time to avoid type 2 diabetes. Participants in the Prevention Program are encouraged to lose 7% of their body weight, and exercise for 150 minutes a week. People who followed the program reduced their risk for type 2 diabetes by 58%, according to academic studies done on the program.
2. Drink More Water
Staying hydrated and drinking lots of water can help regulate blood sugar levels. “Drinking enough water rehydrates the blood and helps our kidneys flush out the excess sugar in our bodies,” says Lina Velikova, MD, a medical writer who studies autoimmune diseases. It’s a much healthier alternative to other beverages, which often add excess sugar. One 2011 study published in the journal Diabetes Care found that people who drank more than 1 liter of water each day were 28% less likely to have high blood sugar than those who drank less than half a liter. The recommended water intake is 1.6 liters for women and 2 liters for men, but this can depend on body weight. Some fitness gurus have offered a simple equation you can use to calculate how many glasses of water you need. Divide your weight (in pounds) in half and that number is the amount of water you need per day in ounces. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, that means you should be drinking 75 fluid ounces, a little over 9 eight-ounce glasses of water a day.
3. Limit Carbohydrates
Merriam-Webster defines a carbohydrate as “any of various neutral compounds of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen (such as sugars, starches, and celluloses) most of which are formed by green plants and which constitute a major class of animal foods.” Carbohydrates have a big impact on blood sugar levels. “The body breaks them down into sugars, which insulin then moves into cells,” Velikova says. “An unbalanced diet and increased intake of carbs might be, disrupting insulin function, causing blood sugar to rise.” Counting carbs can help keep blood sugars in check — aim to get no more than 45% of your daily calories from carbohydrates. Not all carbs are created equal, however. Simple, refined carbs that contain sugar will spike blood sugar more than carbs with naturally-occurring sugars and fiber.
4. Increase Fiber
Moreover, eating carbs that are rich in fiber — like fruits and vegetables — can help lower your blood sugar. A 2017 study published in the journal Advances in Obesity Weight Management & Control found that eating more fiber-rich fruits and vegetables — such as bananas, berries and broccoli — can help lower blood sugar and reduce body weight. The researchers found that higher fresh fruit consumption was associated with a significantly lower risk of developing diabetes. And even for people with existing diabetes, those who ate more fresh fruit had a lower risk of death or developing serious health complications. The study concluded that diabetics should not be told to limit fresh fruit intake.
5. Eat Foods With A Low GI
The glycemic index (GI) helps rank foods by how they affect blood sugar. This scale measures how quickly foods will cause blood sugar levels to rise, with a higher number indicating a more rapid spike in blood sugars, which can be dangerous for diabetics. Foods with a low GI release sugar slowly into your system, rather than flooding your blood with sugar all at once. Aim for foods with a GI of 55 or less. “Having a healthy diet is a proven way of keeping blood sugar within reasonable limits,” Velikova says. “I recommend eating foods that the body absorbs slowly, with a low and medium glycemic index, such as sweet potatoes, oatmeal, and most fruits, including berries and apples.” The following fruits have a low GI: Avocado: 15, Apple: 36, Orange: 43, Banana: 51.
6. Manage Stress
Stress levels can also have a direct impact on blood sugar. When you’re stressed, hormones like cortisol increase blood sugar levels and make your body less effective at using insulin. “Eating healthy, exercising, and drinking enough water are excellent ways to reduce high blood sugar levels. However, they won’t be enough if we stress a lot,” Velikova says. She recommends reducing stress by exercising, meditating, or journaling. Learn more with our guides on how to meditate and how to practice breathing exercises that promote relaxation.