Here are 12 ways that a person with diabetes can lower high blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of complications.
1. Monitor blood sugar levels closely
High blood sugar levels often do not cause symptoms until they run well over 200 mg/dL. As such, it is essential for a person with diabetes to monitor their blood sugar several times a day. Doing so will mean that blood sugar levels never get that high.
A person with diabetes can use a home glucose monitor to check blood sugar levels. These are available for purchase online.
Recommendations for how frequently to check glucose levels during the day will vary from person to person. A doctor can make the best recommendations regarding blood sugar monitoring to a person with diabetes.
2. Reduce carbohydrate intake
Researchers have carried out studies showing that eating a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet reduces blood sugar levels.
The body breaks down carbohydrates into sugar that the body uses as energy. Some carbs are necessary in the diet. However, for people with diabetes, eating too many carbohydrates can cause blood sugar to spike too high.
Reducing the amounts of carbohydrates a person eats reduces the amount a person’s blood sugar spikes.
3. Eat the right carbohydrates
The two main kinds of carbohydrates — simple and complex — affect blood sugar levels differently.
Simple carbohydrates are mainly made up of one kind of sugar. They are found in foods, such as white bread, pasta, and candy. The body breaks these carbohydrates down into sugar very quickly, which causes blood sugar levels to rise rapidly.
Complex carbohydrates are made up of three or more sugars that are linked together. Because the chemical makeup of these kinds of carbohydrates is complicated, it takes the body longer to break them down.
As a result, sugar is released into the body more gradually, meaning that blood sugar levels do not rapidly rise after eating them. Examples of complex carbohydrates include whole grain oats and sweet potatoes.
4. Choose low glycemic index foods
The glycemic index measures and ranks various foods by how much they cause blood sugar levels to rise. Research showsTrusted Source that following a low glycemic index diet decreases fasting blood sugar levels.
Low glycemic index foods are those that score below 55 on the glycemic index. Examples of low glycemic foods include:
- sweet potatoes
- low-fat milk
- leafy greens
- non-starchy vegetables
- nuts and seeds
5. Increase dietary fiber intake
Fiber plays a significant role in blood sugar management by slowing down the rate that carbohydrates break down, and the rate that the body absorbs the resulting sugars.
The two types of fiber are soluble and insoluble fiber. Of the two types, soluble fiber is the most helpful in controlling blood sugar.
Soluble fiber is in the following foods:
- whole grains
6. Maintain a healthy weight
Losing weight helps control blood sugar levels. Being overweight is linked to increased incidents of diabetes and greater occurrences of insulin resistance.
StudiesTrusted Source show that reducing weight by even only 7 percent can reduce the chances of developing diabetes by 58 percent.
It is important to note that a person does not need to achieve ideal body weight to benefit from losing 10–20 pounds and keeping it off. Doing so will also improve cholesterol, reduce the risk of complications, and improve a person’s general sense of well-being.
Eating a healthful diet full of fruits and vegetables and getting enough exercise can help a person lose weight or maintain their currently healthy weight.
7. Control portion size
At most meals, a person should follow portion guidelines provided by a doctor or nutritionist. Overeating at a sitting can cause a spike in blood sugar.
Although simple carbohydrates are typically associated with elevated blood sugar levels, all food causes blood sugar levels to rise. Careful control of portions can keep blood sugar levels more controlled.
8. Exercise regularly
Exercise has many benefits for people with diabetes, including weight loss and increased insulin sensitivity.
Insulin is a hormone that helps people break down sugar in the body. People with diabetes either do not make enough or any insulin in their body or are resistant to the insulin the body does produce.
Exercise also helps to lower blood sugar levels by encouraging the body’s muscles to use sugar for energy.
Proper hydration is key to a healthful lifestyle. For people worried about lowering high blood sugar, it is crucial.
Drinking enough water prevents dehydration and also helps the kidneys remove extra sugar from the body in the urine.
Those looking to reduce blood sugar levels should reach for water and avoid all sugary drinks, such as fruit juice or soda, which may raise blood sugar levels instead.
People with diabetes should reduce alcohol intake to the equivalent of one drink per day for women and two for men unless other restrictions apply.