Sugar is the Devil! Everyone knows it by now. About 50% of all US adults have diabetes or pre-diabetes. Even if you are not pre-diabetic, consuming too much sugar is not good for you as it promotes cellular inflammation. Obesity, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease are all linked to excessive sugar and inflammation, and they are affecting people all over the world.
The problem is, sugar is literally everywhere, hiding behind a zillion different names. It’s even in many foods regarded as healthy. A perfect example is a yogurt. Some brands contain more sugar than you need for the entire day.
That said, glucose is an important energy source. The key is to understand how sugar affects your body, and to know exactly how much you need to be healthy.
- Get your blood sugar tested. Ideal blood sugar levels are between 85 to 90mg/dl. Anything higher than that is too high despite what your doctor says.
- Test your hemoglobin A1c . Your A1c determines how well your blood sugar has been controlled over a 6-12 week period. Normal is between 4-5.6%.
- Read labels carefully and keep track of your daily sugar intake. When reading labels, the easy thing to remember is this: if it has an “ose” on the end, it’s sugar: Glucose, fructose, sucrose, and even lactose are all sugars.
- Get familiar with the glycemic index. Know the Glycemic Index for the foods you regularly eat and try to stay with foods that are in the low to moderate range.
- Buy a glucometer. Even if you don’t have diabetes, you can use a glucometer to see what foods, activities, and stressors cause your blood sugar to shoot up. Think of it as a biofeedback device.
5 Tips for Lowering Blood Sugar Naturally
In addition to actually consuming less sugar, here are some lifestyle tips that anyone can easily implement in their daily lives:
- Exercise, exercise, exercise! Regular exercise can help you lose weight and increase insulin sensitivity. Increased insulin sensitivity means your cells are better able to use the available sugar in your bloodstream. Exercise also helps your muscles use blood sugar for energy and muscle contraction. Finally, exercise helps lose weight. Weight control promotes healthy blood sugar levels and has been shown to reduce your risk of developing diabetes. Even a 7% reduction in body weight can decrease your risk of developing diabetes by up to 58%, and it seems to work even better than medication.
- Reduce stress level. Hormones such as glucagon and cortisol are secreted during stress. These hormones cause blood sugar levels to go up. Hiking, nature walks, yoga and other types of physical activities can help you rebalance and destress. Exercises and relaxation methods like yoga and mindfulness-based stress reduction can also correct insulin secretion problems in chronic diabetes.
- Eat more fiber. Fiber slows carb digestion and sugar absorption. Foods that are high in fiber include vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains.
- Drink more H2O. Drinking enough water may help you keep your blood sugar levels within healthy limits. In addition to preventing dehydration, it helps your kidneys flush out the excess blood sugar through urine. Obviously, avoid sweetened beverages – those are the worst offenders.
- Minerals and Supplements. Chromium and Magnesium have been shown to benefit blood sugar levels in some studies. Chromium-rich foods include egg yolks, whole-grain products, high-bran cereals, coffee, nuts, green beans, broccoli, and meat. Magnesium-rich foods include dark leafy greens, whole grains, fish, dark chocolate, bananas, avocado, and beans. In addition, beneficial supplements like Berberine and Cinnamon are used to control and lower blood sugar levels, in addition to other health benefits.
Of course, as usual, please make sure to check with your doctor before making lifestyle changes or trying new supplements. But no doctor would advise you against losing excessive weight, exercising and reducing stress.