Need to Know How to Lower Your Blood Sugar?
Whether you have diabetes or you just want to lose a few pounds and live healthier, learning how to lower your blood sugar naturally is a way to improve the quality of your life. Eating low glycemic foods, often called low carb dieting, is only one part of lowering your blood sugar. Getting enough sleep and exercise are important factors, often overlooked by dieters and those concerned with lowering their glucose levels.
Carbohydrates and Blood Sugar Level
Many people trying to lower their blood sugar levels focus on low glycemic foods and lowering carbohydrate intake. When you eat carbohydrates, these carbs are broken down into glucose. Glucose is an energy source of most forms of life, from bacteria to animals to human beings.
The human liver stores up glucose and releases this substance into the blood stream, to regulate blood sugar levels. When you eat a high carb diet, you’re going to have higher blood sugar levels.
Low glycemic foods are those foods that lower the glucose levels in your body. Glycemic means “pertaining to glycemia”. “Glycemia” means “the concentration of glucose in your blood”, so low glycemic foods are those that lower the concentration of glucose in your blood flow or, in other words, lower your blood sugar level.
People wanting a low glycemic diet naturally turn to low carb diets. Since carbohydrates are the food source that most easily are converted into sugar, this is how you lower your sugar levels.
Low Glycemic Foods
- Snow Peas
- Low-Fat Yogurt (artificial sweeteners)
- Lettuce or Celery
- Green Beans
- Fat-Free Milk and Soy Milk
- Apple or Apple Juice
- Banana Bread
- Grapefruit Juice
- Tortellini, Fettuccini, Spaghetti
With all this talk of carbohydrates, you might be surprised to see pastas on the list. While eating huge amounts of pasta probably isn’t a good idea, pasta is fairly lower in carbohydrates. The list of low-carb foods goes on and on, so do online research when studying how to lower blood sugar levels.
In fact, the list above includes some low glycemic foods, but there’s an even wider list of medium carbohydrate foods that you can eat, in moderate amounts. Just a small sampling of these foods includes Special K, Bran Chex, Grape Nuts, brown rice, white rice, linguini, raisins, kiwis and even certain Life Savers. Once again, moderation is key with these foods.
Ways to Lower Blood Sugar
There’s more to lowering your blood sugar than having a low carbohydrate diet, though that’s a great start. There are a handful of drinks, supplements, vitamins and life habits that can help you reduce blood glucose levels.
Below is a list of quick ways to lower your blood sugar, to one degree or another. Several of these should be a part of your daily routine, if you have trouble with elevated blood glucose levels.
- Decaf Coffee (no sugar)
- Unsweetened Green Tea
- 1 Glass of Red Wine
- Diabetic Vitamins
- Deep Breathing & Relaxation
Sleep Apnea and High Blood Sugar
Sleep apnea may cause elevated blood sugar levels in the morning, before breakfast. Those who snore enough to wake their bed mates often have sleep apnea, which causes you to wake up (without knowing it) many times in the night. The end result of this is that you don’t enter deep sleep enough, which plays havoc with your body rhythms.
Getting enough sleep is a cure for a lot of the body’s ills, and there’s evidence that a proper amount of sleep lowers your blood sugar levels, or at least helps regulate your body functions better.
Once again, exercise is one of those things that cures a lot of human ills. Moderate exercise lowers your blood sugar levels, with a 20 minute walk lowering your blood sugar level within minutes. Exercise gets more oxygen into the blood stream, while getting more blood to your extremities, which is good for diabetics (and everyone else, really).
Exercise should be a part of your weekly routine. Exercise is healthy, it gives you more energy and it makes you feel better. Having blood flowing to those parts of the body that ache all the time heals your body quicker, while the oxygen in the body rejuvenates you – not to speak of the pleasure causing endorphins (serotonin) released.
Green Tea Lowers Blood Sugar
Green tea has been used in the Far East for medicinal purposes for thousands of years, and one of its health benefits is to lower blood sugar readings by as many as 30 points. Green tea has antioxidants with health benefits, and green tea is shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, though its ability to reduce cholesterol is dubious. (You might also be interested in reading this article: Does Green Tea Help Weight Loss?)
Black tea (what most Americans drink) and white tea have lesser health benefits, though black tea might lower cholesterol somewhat. The important thing to remember is that doctors are talking about drinking green tea without sugar added, if you want to lower blood sugar levels. Most green teas you’ll buy in a grocery store tend to have honey or some other sugar added, so watch out what you’re buying.
It’s probably best to brew your own green tea and take it with you in a thermos. This gives you the added flexibility of choosing the type of green teas you like the best, and there is a long list of green tea to choose from.
Decaf Coffee and Blood Sugar
Small amounts of caffeine, or some compound in coffee, seems to lower blood sugar somewhat. Once again, drinking large amounts of caffeine or any amounts of coffee with sugar is not going to help reduce blood sugar, so buy decaffeinated coffee and never add sugar.
Keep in mind that “decaf coffee” does have a small amount of caffeine in it. This means you’re getting the amount of caffeine that helps reduce blood glucose. When learning how to lower your blood sugar, the devil is often in the details.
Red Wine and Blood Sugar
The devil is definitely in the details when studying how red wine can help lower your blood sugar. The health benefits of red wine have been overstated by many doctors and drinkers over the years, though drinking moderate amounts of red wine does appear to help the heart and blood stream somewhat.
As always, regulate your intake of alcohol scrupulously. Studies show that, while 1 glass of red wine per day has health benefits, 2 glasses of red wine per day wipes out those health benefits. More is not always better, especially in the case of alcohol.
Alcohol has very few carbohydrates in it, so it’s not likely to raise your blood sugar level. Alcohol is best treated as a fat, instead of a carb, though excessive alcohol can harm your body in other ways. When learning how to lower your blood sugar, you have to keep in mind there are other health factors to consider.
Don’t drink alcohol when taking insulin, because both are going to lower your blood sugar level. If insulin gets your blood sugar to a normal level, the alcohol can lower it to dangerous levels.
Cinnamon and Blood Sugar Levels
It might sound strange, but cinnamon is shown to lower blood sugar. This doesn’t mean you should eat large heaps of cinnamon every day, but a few sprinkles of cinnamon on your food can lower blood sugar. Add 1-2 teaspoons of cinnamon to yogurt, for example, to add spice to your snack and reduce blood sugar at the same time.
Testing Blood Sugar Level
A blood sugar or blood glucose reading is one way to test yourself not only for how much sugar is in your blood, but also for the likely presence of diabetes. As you eat, your blood sugar level naturally rises, so when you get your blood sugar readings is as important to know as the range of the tests. Normal blood sugar ranges are between 70 mg/dl and 140 mg/dl on random tests.
As you can see, there are several different kinds of blood glucose readings, so keep this in mind when testing. You don’t want to panic yourself by applying a standard for the fasting test when you have a random blood sugar reading.
Random Blood Glucose Test – A random blood sugar test is one taken at any time, without fasting. In this case, a normal blood glucose level is in the low-to-mid 100s mg/dl range. Anything over 200 mg/dl on a random test, you may be diagnosed with diabetes. If you have other symptoms, like excessive thirst or urination, fatigue and unexplained weight loss, and have the 200 mg/dl blood sugar level, you’ll be diagnosed with diabetes.
Fasting Blood Glucose Test – “Fasting” for this type of medical test is not having eaten for 8 hours previous to the test. A normal test is under 100 mg/dl. If you have two tests in a row that are 126 mg/dl, you’ll be diagnosed with diabetes.
Oral Glucose Tolerance Test – After fasting (no food, only water to drink) overnight, you’ll be given a sugar-water solution. Those without diabetes are going to see their blood sugar spike quickly, then quickly fall. Someone suffering from diabetes is going to see their blood sugar rise high, then stay at a high level for a sustained time. After drinking this sugar solution, your blood sugar level should be under 140 mg/dl, with all readings under 200 mg/dl.
Blood Sugar Level
- Pre-Meal Blood Glucose Level – 90 to 130 mg/dl
- Post-Meal Blood Glucose Level – Less than 180 mg/dl
Lowering Your Blood Sugar
I hope our readers who have diabetes already know most of what we’ve covered above. But those who are pre-diabetic or simply have elevated blood sugar levels need to know how to lower their blood sugar readings. There are a lot of elements to consider when trying to lower your blood sugar, but that’s a good thing: this gives you a whole range of ways to lower your blood glucose to safe levels.
For more information about how to lower your blood sugar, read some of the following: