Internal causes for high blood sugar include when your liver produces too much glucose, your body makes too little insulin, or your body can’t effectively use insulin. The latter is known as insulin resistance.
External factors include dietary choices, certain medications, a sedentary lifestyle, and stress
Exercise helps your muscles use blood sugar for energy and muscle contraction. If you have problems with blood sugar management, consider checking your levels before and after exercising. This will help you learn how you respond to different activities and keep your blood sugar levels.
“Exercise snacks” means that you break up your sitting time every 30-45 minutes for just a few minutes throughout the day and move around.
Carbohydrates (carbs) are what cause blood sugar to rise.
When you eat carbs, they are broken down into simple sugars. Those sugars then enter the bloodstream.
As your blood sugar levels rise, your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin, which prompts your cells to absorb sugar from the blood. This causes your blood sugar levels to drop.
Many studies have shown that consuming a low-carb diet can help prevent blood sugar spikes.
Low-carb diets also have the added benefit of aiding weight loss, which can also reduce blood sugar spikes.
Some common sources of refined carbs are table sugar, white bread, white rice, soda, candy, breakfast cereals and desserts.
Refined carbs have been stripped of almost all nutrients, vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Refined carbs are said to have a high glycemic index because they are very easily and quickly digested by the body. This leads to blood sugar spikes.
The spike in blood sugar and subsequent drop you may experience after eating high-glycemic-index foods can also promote hunger and can lead to overeating and weight gain.
Fiber slows carb digestion and sugar absorption, thereby promoting a more gradual rise in blood sugar levels.
There are two types of fiber — insoluble and soluble.
While both are important, soluble fiber has been shown to improve blood sugar management, while insoluble fiber hasn’t been shown to be effective.
In addition to preventing dehydration, it helps your kidneys flush out any excess sugar through urine.
Keep in mind that water and other zero-calorie drinks are best. Avoid sugar-sweetened drinks, they will raise blood glucose, drive weight gain, and increase diabetes risk.
Foods with Low Glycemic Index
The glycemic index (GI) measures how quickly carbs break down during digestion and how rapidly your body absorbs them. This affects how quickly your blood sugar levels rise.
The GI divides foods into low, medium, and high GI and ranks them on a scale of 0–100. Low GI foods have a ranking of 55 or less.
Some examples of foods with a low to moderate GI include:
- Unsweetened Greek Yogurt
When stressed, your body secretes hormones called glucagon and cortisol, which cause blood sugar levels to rise.
Monitor Blood Levels
Try measuring your levels regularly every day and keeping track of the numbers in a log. Also, it may be more helpful to track your blood sugar in pairs — for example, before and after exercise or before and 2 hours after a meal.
This can show you whether you need to make small changes to a meal if it spikes your blood sugar, rather than avoiding your favorite meals altogether. Some adjustments include swapping a starchy side for non-starchy veggies or limiting them to a handful.
Poor sleeping habits and a lack of rest can affect blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity. They can also increase appetite and promote weight gain. Sleep deprivation raises levels of the hormone cortisol.
To improve the quality of your sleep, try to:
- Follow a sleep schedule
- Avoid caffeine late in the day
- Get regular exercise
- Cut down on screen time before bed
- Keep your bedroom cool
- Limit daytime naps
- Create a bedtime routine
- Diffuse soothing and calming essential oil such as lavender
- Avoid working in your bedroom
- Take a warm bath or shower before bed
- Try meditation or guided imagery
Eat Foods Rich in Chromium and Magnesium
High blood sugar levels and diabetes have been linked to micronutrient deficiencies. Some examples include deficiencies in the minerals chromium and magnesium.
Chromium is involved in carb and fat metabolism. It may potentiate the action of insulin, thus aiding blood sugar regulation.
Magnesium has also been shown to benefit blood sugar levels. In fact, diets rich in magnesium are associated with a significantly reduced risk of diabetes. In contrast, low magnesium levels may lead to insulin resistance and decreased glucose tolerance in people with diabetes.
Chromium-rich foods include:
Magnesium-rich foods include:
- Dark leafy greens
- Squash and Pumpkin seeds
- Dark chocolate
Consider Adding to Diet
- Apple cider vinegar. According to older research, this ingredient may reduce blood sugar levels by delaying the emptying of your stomach after a meal.
- Cinnamon. This spice may improve blood sugar levels by enhancing insulin sensitivity and slowing the breakdown of carbs in your digestive tract. This moderates the rise in blood sugar after a meal.
- Berberine. Research suggests that this compound lowers blood sugar by stimulating enzymes’ breakdown of glucose, promoting your tissue’s use of sugar and increasing insulin production.
- Fenugreek seeds. These seeds may support blood sugar management due to their high fiber content, which delays stomach emptying and subsequently prevents your blood sugar levels from spiking.
Probiotic Rich Foods
Interestingly, studies have found that improvements in blood sugar levels are more significant in people who consume multiple species of probiotics and for at least 8 weeks.
Probiotic-rich foods include fermented foods, such as:
- Greek Yogurt (Plain)