How to Get Rid of High Blood Sugar
High blood sugar can be caused by many things. One common cause is dehydration: when the body is low on water, it flushes excess sugar quickly.
Drinking water can help lower blood sugar, as can choosing foods like apples that are low on the glycemic index. You can also try adding more foods that are rich in fiber.
1. Eat smaller meals.
The food you eat turns into sugar (also known as glucose) when it’s digested. Too much glucose in your blood can cause a lot of problems, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Fluctuating blood sugar can make you feel tired, sluggish and moody. Eating smaller meals throughout the day can help to keep your blood sugar stable and improve energy levels.
Carbohydrate-rich foods (starches and fruits) raise your blood sugar quickly. Try to eat them only in small portions and avoid fruit juice, which has added sugar. You should also choose whole grains instead of processed carbohydrate-rich foods like white bread, pasta and rice.
Some studies suggest that eating a few small, frequent meals is better than three large meals per day for improving metabolic health, satiety and weight loss. However, other studies show mixed results — likely due to different study design and outcomes. It’s important to work with a registered dietitian to determine what type of diet is best for you.
2. Eat more protein.
Protein is an essential macronutrient that is required to build and maintain the body’s tissues and organs, including the muscles. It also helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and promotes feelings of satiety and fullness.
Eating protein at meals reduces post-meal glucose spikes in individuals with Type 2 diabetes, according to research from University of Missouri scientists. They studied how glucose, insulin and several gut hormones changed after participants ate protein-rich breakfasts and a standard lunch.
When eaten alone, protein has little effect on blood sugars, but when proteins are paired with carbohydrates and fats (such as in a large mixed meal), they can help improve glucose and insulin control. This is because the amino acids in protein stimulate gluconeogenesis, which means that sugar is produced in the liver.
Try to get most of your protein from plant-based sources, such as nuts, beans and tofu. Nuts, especially almonds, are also high in magnesium which can support healthy blood sugar levels. One ounce of nuts provides nearly 20 percent of your daily magnesium requirement.
3. Eat more fat.
When insulin is present, fat has little and sometimes no effect on blood glucose levels. However, when insulin resistance is present, too much fat can contribute to high blood sugar levels.
Eating a balanced diet of starches, fruits and vegetables, protein and fats will help control your blood sugar levels more effectively. Talk to your doctor, nurse or dietitian about the best balance of foods for you.
Regular exercise lowers post-meal blood sugar by decreasing insulin resistance and helping your body use glucose as energy. A 15-minute walk immediately after a meal can significantly improve glycemic control.
Changes in hormones during menstruation can affect your blood sugar level, so it’s important to check it more often and make adjustments as needed. You can also reduce your risk of hypoglycemia by re-checking your blood sugar in the morning to see if it is below 55 mg/dL before you drive (or if you’re unconscious). If your blood sugar is low, drink four ounces of juice or nonfat milk and eat four pieces of hard candy. You should then check your blood sugar again in 15 minutes.
4. Eat more fiber.
Dietary fiber, also known as roughage, is an important part of a healthy diet and helps control blood sugar. It also supports gut health, reduces constipation, and may lower cholesterol levels, according to the Mayo Clinic.
You can add fiber to most meals by choosing whole grains, nuts and seeds, fruits, vegetables, and beans. Keep in mind that some people don’t tolerate high-fiber foods well, so start slowly and work up to the recommended intakes. If you’re having trouble adding more fiber, speak with an RDN for advice.
When counting carbohydrate grams, subtract the number of grams of dietary fiber from the total number to determine your net carbohydrates. Many foods contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, so choose a mix of sources. For example, you can include a salad for dinner with leafy greens and add a serving of pinto, kidney, lima or black beans to your meal. You can also snack on fresh and dried fruit, whole-grain crackers or a handful of nuts. Make sure to drink plenty of water with these high-fiber foods as fiber absorbs fluid.
5. Eat less sugar.
Sugar is naturally in lots of foods like fruit, vegetables and milk, but manufacturers add it to prepackaged and processed foods and beverages like soda, candy, cookies, ice cream and sweetened tea and coffee. This added sugar provides empty calories that don’t contribute any nutritional value. Cutting out added sugar is a great way to cut back on high blood sugar levels and lose weight.
Studies show that reducing the amount of sugar in the diet decreases total daily calories and reduces visceral fat, which is the fat that sits on your organs and increases disease risk (13). It also helps curb sugar cravings.
Keep in mind that many foods that are labeled “sugar-free” contain a form of sugar called a sugar alcohol, such as mannitol, maltitol, sorbitol and xylitol, which can still raise blood sugar levels. So when you start swapping out sugar for these alternatives, be sure to check the food label for the glycemic index of each item.