High blood sugar occurs when your body doesn’t make enough or effectively use insulin, a hormone that regulates blood glucose and helps it enter your cells for energy.
High blood sugar (hyperglycemia) is associated with diabetes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 13% of U.S. adults live with diabetes, and 34.5% have prediabetes.
This means close to 50% of all U.S. adults have diabetes or prediabetes.
Here are 15 easy ways to lower blood sugar levels naturally:
1. Exercise regularly
Regular exercise can help you get to and maintain a moderate weight and increase insulin sensitivity.
Increased insulin sensitivity means your cells are better able to use the available sugar in your bloodstream.
Exercise also helps your muscles use blood sugar for energy and muscle contraction.
If you have problems with blood sugar management, you should routinely check your levels. This will help you learn how you respond to different activities and keep your blood sugar levels from getting either too high or too low.
Useful forms of exercise include weightlifting, brisk walking, running, biking, dancing, hiking, swimming, and more.
Summary: Exercise increases insulin sensitivity and helps your muscles use glucose effectively. This can lead to reduced blood sugar levels.
2. Manage your carb intake
Your body breaks carbs down into sugars (mostly glucose), and then insulin helps your body use and store sugar for energy.
When you eat too many carbs or have insulin-function problems, this process fails, and blood glucose levels can rise.
However, there are several things you can do about this.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends managing carb intake by counting carbs and being aware of how many you need.
Some studies find that these methods can also help you plan your meals appropriately, further improving blood sugar management.
Many studies also show that a low-carb diet helps reduce blood sugar levels and prevent blood sugar spikes.
What’s more, a low-carb diet can help manage blood sugar levels in the long run.
Summary: Carbs are broken down into glucose, which raises blood sugar levels. Reducing carbohydrate intake can help with blood sugar control.
3. Increase your fiber intake
Fiber slows carb digestion and sugar absorption. For these reasons, it promotes a more gradual rise in blood sugar levels.
Furthermore, the type of fiber you eat may play a role.
There are two kinds of fiber:
While both are important, soluble fiber has explicitly been shown to improve blood sugar management.
Additionally, a high fiber diet can help better manage type 1 diabetes by improving the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar and reducing blood sugar lows.
Foods that are high in fiber include:
- Whole grains
The recommended daily intake of fiber is about 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. That’s about 14 grams for every 1,000 calories.
Summary: Eating plenty of fiber can help with blood sugar management. Soluble dietary fiber is the most effective.
4. Drink water and stay hydrated
Drinking enough water may help you keep your blood sugar levels within healthy limits.
In addition to preventing dehydration, it helps your kidneys flush out the excess sugar through urine.
One observational study showed that those who drank more water had a lower risk of developing high blood sugar levels.
Drinking water regularly helps rehydrate the blood, lowers blood sugar levels, and could reduce diabetes risk.
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Keep in mind that water and other non-caloric beverages are best. Sugar-sweetened drinks raise blood glucose, drive weight gain, and increase diabetes risk.
Summary: Staying hydrated can reduce blood sugar levels and diabetes risk. Water is the best choice.
5. Implement portion control
Portion control helps regulate calorie intake and can help maintain a moderate weight.
Consequently, weight management promotes healthy blood sugar levels and has been shown to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Monitoring your serving sizes also helps reduce calorie intake and subsequent blood sugar spikes.
Here are some helpful tips for managing portion sizes:
- Measure and weigh portions.
- Use smaller plates.
- Avoid all-you-can-eat restaurants.
- Read food labels and check the serving sizes.
- Keep a food journal.
- Eat slowly.
Summary: Focusing on your portion sizes can help you better manage your blood sugar levels.
6. Choose foods with a low glycemic index
The glycemic index measures how we absorb or digest foods, which affects the rate at which blood sugar levels rise.
Both the amount and type of carbs determine how a food affects blood sugar levels.
Eating low-glycemic-index foods has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels in those with diabetes.
Although the glycemic index of foods is important, the number of carbs consumed also matters.
Foods with a low to moderate glycemic index include:
- Wheat pasta
- Non-starchy vegetables
Summary: It’s essential to choose foods with a low glycemic index and monitor your overall carb intake.
7. Manage stress levels
Stress can affect your blood sugar levels.
Hormones such as glucagon and cortisol are secreted during stress. These hormones cause blood sugar levels to go up.
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One study showed that exercise, relaxation, and meditation significantly reduced stress and lowered blood sugar levels for students.
Exercises and relaxation methods like yoga and mindfulness-based stress reduction may also help correct insulin secretion problems in chronic diabetes.
Summary: Managing stress levels through exercise or relaxation methods, such as yoga, may help you better regulate blood sugar levels.
8. Monitor your blood sugar levels
“What gets measured gets managed.”*
Measuring and monitoring blood glucose levels can also help you better manage your levels.
For example, keeping track helps you determine whether you need to make adjustments in meals or medications.
It will also help you find out how your body reacts to certain foods.
Try measuring your levels every day and keeping track of the numbers in a log.
Summary: Checking your blood glucose and maintaining a log every day will help you adjust foods and medications when necessary to help decrease your blood sugar levels.
9. Get enough quality sleep
Getting enough sleep feels excellent and is necessary for good health.
Poor sleeping habits and a lack of rest can also affect blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity. They can increase appetite and promote weight gain.
Sleep deprivation decreases the release of growth hormones and increases cortisol levels. Both of these play an essential role in blood sugar management.
Furthermore, adequate sleep is about both quantity and quality. It’s best to get a sufficient amount of high-quality sleep every night.
Summary: Good sleep helps maintain your blood sugar levels and promotes a healthy weight. Poor sleep can disrupt critical metabolic hormones.
10. Eat foods rich in chromium and magnesium
High blood sugar levels and diabetes have also been linked to micronutrient deficiencies.
Examples include deficiencies in the minerals chromium and magnesium.
Chromium is involved in carb and fat metabolism. It also helps regulate blood sugar levels. A lack of chromium may predispose you to carb intolerance.
However, the mechanisms behind this are not entirely known. Studies also report mixed findings.
Some studies of people with diabetes showed that chromium had benefits for long-term blood sugar management. However, the alternate has also been found.
Chromium-rich foods include:
- Whole grain products
Magnesium has also been shown to benefit blood sugar levels, while magnesium deficiency has been linked to a higher risk of developing diabetes.
Studies have linked individuals with the highest magnesium intake with up to a 47% lower risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
However, if you already eat plenty of magnesium-rich foods, you probably will not benefit from supplements.
Magnesium-rich foods include:
- Dark leafy greens
- Squash and pumpkin seeds
- Whole grains
- Dark chocolate
Summary: Eating foods rich in chromium and magnesium regularly can help prevent deficiencies and reduce the risk of blood sugar problems.
11. Try apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has many health benefits.
It promotes lower fasting blood sugar levels, possibly decreasing its production by the liver or increasing its use by cells.
Furthermore, studies show that vinegar significantly influences your body’s response to sugars and can help improve insulin sensitivity.
It may be mixed in a few ounces of water that you can drink before a high-carb meal or be mixed in salad dressing.
However, it’s essential to talk with your doctor before taking apple cider vinegar if you’re already taking medications that lower blood sugar.
Summary: Adding apple cider vinegar to your diet can help your body in many ways, including reducing blood sugar levels.
12. Experiment with cinnamon extract
Cinnamon is known to have many health benefits.
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It’s been shown to improve insulin sensitivity by decreasing insulin resistance at the cellular level.
Studies show cinnamon can also lower blood sugar levels by up to 29%.
It slows the breakdown of carbs in the digestive tract, which moderates the rise in blood sugar after a meal.
However, there are risks involved if you take too much cinnamon.
Summary: Cinnamon has been shown to help reduce fasting blood sugar levels and may help improve insulin sensitivity.
13. Try berberine
Berberine is the active component of an herb used in traditional Chinese medicine, including treating diabetes.
Berberine has been shown to help lower blood sugar and enhance carb breakdown for energy.
What’s more, berberine may be as effective as some blood-sugar-lowering drugs. This makes it one of the most effective supplements for those with diabetes or prediabetes.
However, many of the mechanisms behind its effects are still unknown. More high-quality studies are needed to determine its safety and effectiveness.
Additionally, it may have some side effects, such as:
- Abdominal pain
Speak with your healthcare provider first if you’re considering using berberine.
Summary: Berberine can help lower blood sugar levels and manage diabetes. However, it may have some digestive side effects.
14. Eat fenugreek seeds
Fenugreek seeds are a great source of soluble fiber, which can help manage blood sugar levels.
Many studies have shown that fenugreek can effectively lower blood sugar in people with diabetes. It also helps reduce fasting glucose and improve glucose tolerance.
Although not that popular, fenugreek can be added to baked goods to help treat diabetes.
The recommended dose of fenugreek seeds is 2–5 grams per day, although this varies from study to study.
Summary: Fenugreek seeds are easy to add to your diet and can help regulate blood glucose levels.
15. Maintain a Moderate Weight
It’s a no-brainer that maintaining a moderate weight will help improve your health and may help prevent future health problems.
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Weight management also promotes healthy blood sugar levels and has been shown to help reduce your risk of developing diabetes.
Even a 7% reduction in body weight can decrease your risk for developing diabetes by up to 58%, and it seems to work even better than a common diabetes medication.
What’s more, these decreased risks can be sustained long term.
It’s important to monitor your waistline, as it’s perhaps the most crucial weight-related factor for estimating your diabetes risk.
A measurement of more than 35 inches (88.9 cm) for women and more than 40 inches (101.6 cm) for men is associated with an increased risk of developing insulin resistance, high blood sugar levels, and type 2 diabetes.
Having a healthy waist measurement may even be more important than your overall weight.
Summary: Keeping a moderate weight and waistline will help you maintain normal blood sugar levels and decrease your risk for developing diabetes.
Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider before making lifestyle changes or trying new supplements.
This is particularly important if you have problems with blood sugar management or if you’re taking medications to lower blood glucose levels.
If you have diabetes or have blood sugar management problems, it’s important to work with your healthcare provider to create and start a treatment plan as soon as possible.