5 Things to Immediately Do About Blood Sugar Control
If you experience symptoms of low blood sugar, such as dizziness and fatigue, treat it immediately. It’s especially important to check your blood sugar if you’re going to drive or work around machinery.
Carbs and protein — such as a piece of fruit and a hard-boiled egg — can prevent a blood sugar spike. Also, make sure to eat a carbohydrate snack before exercise.
1. Eat a Balanced Diet
Blood sugars (glucose) are the body’s main fuel and supply energy to every cell in your body. They rise from the food you eat, especially carbohydrates. But how fast your blood sugar rises after eating depends on the kind of carb you eat and what you pair it with.
Eating low-glycemic index carbs, such as rolled oats, legumes, most fruits and vegetables, slows digestion and prevents blood sugar spikes after meals, Dixon says. Eating proteins and fats, like nuts or a tablespoon of olive oil, also helps keep blood sugar levels steady.
Adding fiber-rich foods to your diet can also help. Those include leafy greens, beans and nuts. Fiber slows digestion and keeps blood sugar stable, Crandall says.
Stress can also cause a rise in blood sugar by activating the body’s “fight or flight” response, Redmond says. That’s why it’s important to incorporate relaxation techniques into your daily routine, like meditation or yoga. They’ll reduce cortisol, which is linked to high blood sugars.
2. Exercise Regularly
While everyone benefits from regular exercise (weight loss, stronger bones, lower risk of heart disease and cancer) it has special advantages for people with diabetes. The reason is that it improves insulin sensitivity, which means your cells are better able to use blood sugar for energy.
But it’s important to work with your health care team to determine the best timing for exercise, because everyone reacts differently. It’s also recommended that you check your BGLs before, during and after exercise to see how it affects your insulin levels.
In general, experts say you should aim to get 30 minutes of aerobic exercise most days — that’s brisk walking, swimming, cycling or dancing. Walking may be the easiest to do, but resistance training and jogging are more challenging and have a bigger impact on your fitness level.
If you don’t want to head to the gym, try taking the stairs instead of riding an elevator or walk or jog around your neighborhood or take a dance class at a local studio. Just be sure to carry a hypoglycaemia treatment (such as jelly beans) if you are at risk of low blood sugar during exercise.
3. Get Plenty of Sleep
Studies have shown that getting a good night’s sleep promotes glucose tolerance and helps control diabetes. Insufficient or irregular sleep habits, on the other hand, negatively impact blood sugar levels. In fact, chronic sleep deprivation is associated with type 2 diabetes and prediabetes.
During a normal sleep cycle, glucose levels rise and fall throughout the night. In a healthy person, the body’s insulin hormone helps regulate these fluctuations and prevents them from causing low or high blood sugar. However, when a person consumes food or drinks containing sugar or caffeine close to bedtime, their glucose levels surge and may interfere with falling asleep. High blood sugar levels can cause the release of stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which interrupt sleep.
In addition, interrupted or fragmented sleep can interfere with the body’s production of key growth hormones. This can contribute to insulin resistance, which increases the likelihood of developing diabetes and worsens symptoms of diabetes. Aim for seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. To help ensure a restful night’s sleep, try to keep a regular schedule of bedtime and wake-up times on both weekdays and weekends, avoid drinking alcohol or eating late at night, and put away screens an hour before snooze time.
4. Stay Hydrated
Although it might not seem like cutting-edge nutritional advice, drinking enough water is a simple and effective way to help balance blood sugar levels. Dehydration elevates blood sugar because it reduces the amount of water in your body, which makes everything more concentrated, including glucose.
When you’re hydrated, your kidneys can more easily flush excess glucose out of your body through urine, explains Simos. It’s especially important to stay well hydrated when the weather is hot and humid, as this can make dehydration more likely.
While drinking plenty of water is the best choice for hydration, you can also get a healthy dose of fluids from a variety of other sources, such as fruit juice (without added sugar), low-sugar sports drinks and unsweetened tea or coffee. Just be sure to check your blood sugar levels often if you’re drinking these beverages, and always drink water in between meals. For added flavor, try adding slices of cucumber or lemon to your glass of water. It’s also a good idea to keep a stash of water bottles in your purse, car or work bag so you have them on hand at all times.
5. Avoid Stress
Having to count calories, test blood sugar, take medication, and deal with other daily diabetes-related tasks can be stressful. For some people, stress can actually raise their blood sugar. This is because the body releases hormones during times of anxiety that prevent insulin from working effectively, causing glucose levels to rise. This is also known as hyperglycemia.
Stress can also cause unhealthful behavior such as emotional overeating, skipping exercise or failing to take medications or supplements as prescribed by a doctor. Additionally, not getting enough sleep can increase stress and contribute to higher blood sugar levels. Getting at least four hours of quality sleep each night may help lower blood sugar levels by reducing fatty acids that are normally found in the blood and make insulin less effective.
Long-term high stress can lead to a variety of health complications, so it’s important to learn how to recognize and manage stress. You can reduce your stress by exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, getting plenty of sleep, and not smoking. In addition, you can try a relaxation technique like meditation or deep breathing to refocus yourself and take your mind off of things that are causing stress.