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10 Ways To Lower Blood Sugar, According To Experts – Forbes Health

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While high blood sugar over the long term can be dangerous, there are many ways to lower it quickly and effectively.

Medications to Lower Blood Sugar

People with type 1 diabetes require insulin via injections or an insulin pump to lower blood sugar. For type 2 diabetes, an oral medication, or a combination of oral medication and insulin, is typically prescribed, explains Stephanie Redmond, a doctor of pharmacy and certified diabetes care and education specialist in Saint Paul, Minneapolis.

When it comes to insulin, there’s a range of types, from rapid-acting to ultra long-acting, where the insulin hits the bloodstream in six hours and then lasts about 36 hours or longer.

There are also a variety of oral medications that work in different ways, such as decreasing the amount of sugar produced by the liver, or causing excess sugar to be eliminated via urine.

Natural Ways to Lower Blood Sugar

Whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes and are taking medication or insulin to manage it, or you have been diagnosed with prediabetes and want to lessen the risk of developing Type 2, lifestyle choices can have a big impact on how balanced your blood stays throughout the day.

According to experts, these 10 lifestyle choices can help bring your body back into balance, and may even help you lose weight and lower your risk of other chronic health issues as well.

1. Eat balanced meals

Eating meals rich in “high fiber foods, healthy fats and lean protein sources is key to managing blood sugars,” says Toby Smithson, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes care and education specialist in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. She explains that fiber in particular can slow gastric emptying, which helps keep blood sugar levels steady and promote fullness. For example, Smithson notes that foods like almonds—a source of fiber, healthy fat and plant-based protein, can improve post-meal blood sugar.

2. Avoid sugary drinks

Samantha Nazareth, MD, a board-certified physician, recommends avoiding sweet drinks like soda. Some sugar-sweetened beverages can contain 10 to 12 teaspoons of sugar in a 12-ounce serving, which can quickly spike blood sugar. For reference, the American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 and 9 teaspoons of added sugar per day for women and men, respectively.

3. Choose low glycemic index carbs

Build your meals with low glycemic index (GI) carbs, advises Dr. Dixon. Carbs are ranked on the GI scale from 0 to 100 based on how high they raise blood sugars after eating. High GI carbs such as white bread and pastries can cause blood sugar spikes. Conversely, low GI carbs like rolled oats, legumes and most fruits and vegetables are digested slower and gradually raise blood sugar (instead of immediately spiking it).

4. Consume carbs last

“Starting your meal with vegetables and protein and eating carbs last can also help lower blood sugar,” explains Dr. Dixon, an effect observed in a small 2015 Diabetes Care study. A newer 2020 study in Clinical Nutrition also found that “food intake sequence” (ie the order in which certain foods like proteins and carbohydrates are eaten) affects glucose. However, because this food sequencing method is not a widely practiced recommendation among doctors and requires more robust research, it’s important to speak with your doctor before implementing.

5. Add cinnamon

Studies suggest that adding cinnamon to the diet may “naturally sensitize the body to insulin,” notes Dr. Redmond. This may allow insulin to work on lowering blood sugar.

6. Exercise

Exercise benefits overall health and can lower blood sugar up to 24 hours or more after a workout. “Physical activity allows the body to use excess sugar in the blood for fuel. Even a short walk after eating can help,” says Dr. Dixon.

7. Manage stress

Under stress, the body can go into “fight or flight” mode where cortisol (a hormone) levels rise. Dr. Redmond explains that this rise in cortisol can in turn cause a rise in blood sugar by increasing sugar production from the liver. While a rise in blood sugar would certainly help fuel your body in a singular situation where you must face or flee from danger, chronic stress can lead to persistent high blood sugar. Stress management techniques such as yoga, meditation and mindfulness may all help lower blood sugar, says Dr. Redmond.

8. Sleepwell

Good sleeping habits are important, says Smithson, since insufficient and interrupted sleep is linked to elevated blood sugars and increased diabetes risk. Adults should aim for about seven hours of sleep a night, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

9. Stop smoking

“Smoking is like adding fuel to the fire for people [living] with diabetes,” says Dr. Nazareth. Quitting smoking is not only good for your lungs, but also helps manage blood sugars and lowers the risk of damage to blood vessels, echoes the American Diabetes Association.

10. Avoid alcohol

“Alcohol can raise blood sugar, especially if it’s prepared with soda, juice or sweetener,” notes Dr. Nazareth. “Alcohol contains calories, and when consumed in excess, can interfere with weight loss efforts or even contribute to weight gain,” she adds. This is important, because carrying extra weight is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

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