High blood sugar, also known as hyperglycemia, happens when blood glucose is abnormally high due to your body’s improper use of insulin or when your body cannot produce insulin. It mainly affects people with diabetes. Food intake, sedentary lifestyle, illnesses, and not taking the prescribed diabetes medications are some of the factors that can contribute to high blood sugar.
An uncontrolled high blood sugar can drastically affect your nerves, blood vessels, and organs.
Causes of High Blood Sugar
People with diabetes experience hyperglycemia due to the following reasons:
- Eating excessive amounts of carbohydrates
- Having high levels of stress and anxiety
- Inactivity or lack of physical exercise
- Skipping insulin or oral glucose-lowering medications
Symptoms of High Blood Sugar
Symptoms of high blood sugar can vary among individuals. The most common symptoms of hyperglycemia include:
- Excessive thirst
- Increased frequency of urination
- Weight loss
- Increased appetite
- Slow healing of cuts and wounds
- Headaches and difficulty in concentrating
- Chronic constipation or diarrhea
Natural Ways to Lower Your Blood Sugar
Having a high blood sugar level can adversely affect your health. There are natural ways to lower your blood sugar level. The following are a few ways to lower your blood sugar naturally:
1. Limit your carbohydrate intake
The most effective way to keep the blood sugar levels low without taking any medications is through consuming less sugar. A lower carb level makes it easier to maintain stable blood sugar levels. As the amount of sugar consumed reduces, the metabolic response will also reduce, thereby ensuring that the pancreas and its insulin production remains normal.
Carbohydrates are found in starchy foods such as root vegetables, rice, beans, and grains, among others. Other derivatives include bread, pasta, French fries, and mashed potatoes. The intake of sugar can also be reduced by limiting the consumption of processed foods, sauces, chocolates, fruit juices and soda, and taking note of the nutrition levels in everything that you consume.
To effectively reduce or control your blood sugar level, try the following tips:
- Eating a low-carb diet
- Consume a sufficient amount of leafy vegetables and nuts
- Replace sugary drinks with water
- Opt for sugar-free seasonings when cooking food
2. Exercise more
Exercising regularly and involving yourself in a number of activities are highly effective methods to bring down your blood sugar levels. Short-term exercises can immediately help lower blood sugar levels. However, long-term physical exercises can help your body burn glucose more efficiently. Regular exercise not only helps in reducing your weight, but it can also increase insulin sensitivity, which means that the cells in the body can effectively use the sugar present in the blood. Sugar is fuel for the muscles, and regular exercise will help the muscles use blood sugar for energy and muscle contraction.
While moderate activities such as going for a walk immediately after a meal can have immediate benefits, more intense activities will help achieve long-term benefits that can reverse prediabetes and sometimes even type 2 diabetes. These activities include intense workouts such as running, cycling, swimming, and many other activities. These exercises can help improve your body's metabolism, which ultimately leads to better health.
Exercising regularly normalizes blood glucose by improving insulin resistance, which is very helpful for people with type 2 diabetes. It also helps prevent heart-related problems as well as maintain good blood flow to the legs.
3. Eat more foods rich in magnesium and chromium
It is believed that micronutrient deficiencies can cause diabetes. While certain micronutrients are absolutely necessary for maintaining good health, chromium and magnesium are essential minerals that help the body regulate blood sugar levels. These elements along with antioxidants are the keys to having an energetic metabolism.
Chromium is necessary for healthy cellular function and is also involved in carbohydrate and fat metabolism. Besides controlling blood sugar levels, chromium also helps with healthy glucose metabolism. Although the mechanisms through which chromium has an effect on blood sugar levels have not been exactly determined and the findings of a number of studies gave a mixed result. While one study showed the benefit of chromium in long-term blood sugar control, another showed no benefit at all.
Magnesium has also been found to have the ability to maintain blood sugar levels. A deficiency in magnesium can lead to a higher risk of developing diabetes.
Different foods are used to overcome the deficiency of various nutrients. Foods rich in chromium include the following:
- Egg yolks
- Whole-grain products
- High-bran cereals
- Green beans
Rich sources of magnesium:
- Dark leafy greens
- Whole grains
- Dark chocolate
4. Get enough sleep
Getting a sufficient amount of sleep has its fair share of benefits. A resting period is crucial for rejuvenation of your body as well as it helps in maintaining good health. Just like a good amount of sleep has many benefits, the opposite has contrasting effects as well. It affects the chemistry of the body and might also bring down the blood sugar levels and fix insulin sensitivity. According to a study, people who constantly don't get enough sleep tend to develop type 2 diabetes. Moreover, poor sleeping habits will only increase your appetite, which can cause a significant increase in your weight.
Insufficient sleep will also cause a fluctuation in the levels of key determinants of blood sugar level such as growth hormones and cortisol. It has also been proven in a study that hale and hearty people are showing higher levels of fatty acids in their bloodstream after being sleep deprived. This also resulted in a reduction of the ability of insulin to regulate blood sugar.
Experts suggest that people should have 7 hours of sleep at the very least. This helps maintain blood sugar levels along with a healthy body weight.
5. Manage your weight
A healthy weight is not only beneficial in the present, but it can also be a key to avoiding future health problems. Weight gain is found to cause insulin resistance, keeping it from working in a healthy manner. While promoting a healthy blood sugar level, weight control has also been beneficial in reducing the risk of developing diabetes.
Research shows that one could reduce the risk of diabetes by as much as 58 percent by reducing the levels of obesity by as little as 7 percent. It should also be kept in mind that weight loss should not be sudden and you should not completely deprive yourself of food. Thus, your weight should be healthy and according to your body mass index (BMI). It is the healthy management of weight that will have a positive impact, and not just the weight loss itself.
6. Reduce stress levels
Stress can have a significant effect on blood sugar levels. Stressful situations can result in the release of hormones such as glucagon and cortisol. These hormones can raise the blood sugar level.
Several studies have proven the role of stress hormones in initiating metabolic decomposition in diabetic men under stress. According to a number of studies, engaging in exercise, relaxation, and meditation have the ability to significantly reduce stress, thereby bringing down the blood sugar levels. Aside from the exercises mentioned above, you can also opt for relaxation techniques such as yoga to reduce stress and lower postprandial blood sugar levels.
7. Consume high-fiber foods
Fiber-rich foods are considered good for the health since they help in slowing down carbohydrate digestion and the absorption of glucose. That is why they can help in limiting blood sugar levels and help keep them steady by preventing sudden blood sugar spikes and drops.
The type of fiber consumed can also have a significant role in maintaining blood sugar levels. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber have been specifically proven to bring down blood sugar levels. A diet containing high amounts of fiber can also help reduce the risk of developing heart diseases among people with type 1 diabetes since it improves blood sugar control.
The fiber-rich foods include vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains. Leafy vegetables are preferred since they are not only high in fiber but also rich in nutrients like magnesium and vitamin A, which can further reduce blood sugar levels. The important leafy vegetables to be added in the diet include spinach, lettuce, turnip greens, collards, and kale. According to a study, an intake of 1.5 servings instead of a mere couple of servings of green vegetables per day can aid in reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by at least 14 percent.
The recommended intake of fiber varies with gender. For women, the recommended fiber intake is 25 grams, while 38 grams is recommended in men.
8. Avoid consuming heavy meals
Spreading out your food intake throughout the day is necessary to keep your carbohydrate intake consistent. When you consume a huge meal, especially one that is high in carbohydrates, your body will have trouble in breaking down and absorbing the nutrients. In such a scenario, refined sugars will be instantly absorbed and a large amount will result in the unhealthy functioning of the pancreas and insulin.
By controlling portion intake, you can regulate your calorie intake and avoid an increase in your weight. Ultimately, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes is reduced to an extent. Measuring and weighing portions, using smaller plates, eating slowly, reading food labels, and checking serving sizes can help in controlling the amount of your food intake.
9. Drink apple cider vinegar
One of the main benefits of taking apple cider vinegar is lowering blood sugar levels. Moreover, it lives to the adage that prevention is better than cure. Apple cider vinegar helps in promoting normal blood sugar levels in multiple ways. A number of studies have shown that apple cider vinegar can help decrease both fasting and postprandial blood sugar levels.
Apple cider vinegar has the ability to significantly influence the body’s response to sugar and highly improves insulin sensitivity. To avail these benefits, you can add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar into 8 ounces of water. You can drink this mixture or use it as a salad dressing.
10. Take cinnamon
Among the multitude of cinnamon health benefits, the spice is also known to improve insulin sensitivity by decreasing insulin resistance at the cellular level. Research has shown that cinnamon can reduce blood sugar levels as high as 29 percent.
Taking cinnamon after a meal can be very beneficial to one's health. It can also act in a similar way to insulin, but at a slower rate. The recommended dosage is 1-6 grams or about 1/2 to 2 teaspoons per day. It can also be taken as a supplement in capsule form. However, care must be taken not to exceed the set limits, as too much of it can also cause adverse effects.