How To Lower Blood Sugar Naturally: 12 Simple Steps

Take control of your blood sugar and be healthy

Blood sugar, also known as glucose, is the fuel that keeps your body running. But when those levels rise too high, it can lead to a condition called hyperglycemia.

While hyperglycemia might sound scary, the good news is there are natural ways to manage it and keep your blood sugar in control.

This article is for those who want to understand blood sugar and explore natural methods to keep it within a healthy range, while transforming their eating experience into a tasty and colorful adventure!

Understanding Blood Sugar Levels

Imagine your blood as a river, and glucose as the sweet treats that fall into it. Normally, your body efficiently transports this glucose into your cells for energy. However, when the flow of glucose gets disrupted, it can build up in the bloodstream, leading to hyperglycemia.

Fasting Hyperglycemia: Blood Sugar On An Empty Stomach

Here’s a quick breakdown of blood sugar ranges when fasting, or not eating for at least 8 hours [1]:

  • Normal: Between 70 mg/dL and 100 mg/dL (3.9 to 5.6 mmol/L)
  • Slightly High (Prediabetes): Between 100 to 125 mg/dL (5.6 to 6.9 mmol/L) 
  • High (Hyperglycemia): Above 125 mg/dL (7.0 mmol/L). If fasting blood glucose is 126 mg/dL (7 mmol/L) or higher on two separate tests, diabetes is diagnosed.

Postprandial Hyperglycemia: Blood Sugar Spikes After Eating

Not all high blood sugar is created equal. There’s also a concept called postprandial hyperglycemia, which refers to high blood sugar levels specifically after eating. These readings, typically taken within two hours of a meal or snack, reflect how your body reacts to the food you consume.

Regularly experiencing high blood sugar after meals or snacks could be an early warning sign of type 2 diabetes [2].

This is why keeping an eye on your postprandial blood sugar levels is crucial for maintaining good health.

Why Blood Sugar Levels Matter: Understanding Prediabetes, Diabetes and Hyperglycemia

Unhealthy packaged foods and ultra processed foods

We’ve talked about how blood sugar, or glucose, fuels our bodies. But what happens when those levels get frequently too high?

This is where conditions like prediabetes and diabetes come in.

In fact, hyperglycemia, or high blood glucose, is a symptom that characterizes diabetes [31].

Prediabetes: A Warning Sign

Think of prediabetes as a yellow traffic light. Your blood sugar is higher than normal, but not quite high enough for a diabetes diagnosis.

It’s a crucial time to take action and prevent further progression.

The Insulin Connection

Our bodies naturally produce insulin, a hormone that acts like a key, unlocking the door for sugar to enter our cells and be used for energy. In prediabetes and diabetes, this system gets disrupted.

In type 1 diabetes, the body simply doesn’t produce enough insulin (insulin deficiency) [32].

In type 2 diabetes, factors contributing to hyperglycemia include the following [32]:

  • Insulin Resistance: The body produces insulin, but the cells become resistant to its effects, like a rusty lock.
  • Glucose Overload: The liver can also play a role, producing too much glucose and tipping the blood sugar scales.

Causes Beyond Our Genes

While genetics can influence blood sugar regulation, many lifestyle factors come into play [32]:

  • Diet: Sugary drinks and foods, refined carbs, and unhealthy fats can spike blood sugar.
  • Inactivity: Inactivity, such as sitting for long periods, can make it harder for your body to use glucose effectively.
  • Stress: Chronic stress hormones can also disrupt blood sugar balance.
  • Medications: Certain medications (like glucocorticoids, phenytoin, and estrogens) can have a side effect of raising blood sugar.

The Importance of Blood Sugar Management

Lowering Blood Sugar Naturally Is Possible

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly half of all U.S. adults have prediabetes or diabetes [3].

Globally, in 2021 about 762 million of adults were living with prediabetes [4] and 537 million with diabetes [5].

Managing blood sugar is especially crucial for people with diabetes, as chronically high levels can lead to serious health complications.

The good news? By making healthy choices and incorporating the tips in the next chapter, you can take control of your blood sugar and keep yourself on the path to optimal health.

The truth is, maintaining healthy blood sugar levels is a wise choice for everyone, regardless of prediabetes or diabetes diagnosis.

How To Lower Blood Sugar Naturally

Control blood sugar naturally and enjoy your meals

Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels is crucial for overall well-being. Whether you’re concerned about preventing blood sugar spikes or managing prediabetes or diabetes, taking a proactive approach can make a significant difference. This comprehensive guide explores a variety of natural strategies you can incorporate into your daily routine to support healthy blood sugar management.

Remember, knowledge is power! By equipping yourself with this information, you can make informed choices and take control of your blood sugar health.

Take Control: Your Blood Sugar Action Plan

Dive deeper into each tip and discover how it can help you achieve healthy blood sugar levels:

  1. Move Your Body for Lasting Blood Sugar Benefits
  2. Choose Smart Carbs for Balanced Blood Sugar
  3. Fiber Up for Steady Blood Sugar
  4. Master Meal Portions for Balanced Blood Sugar
  5. Control Blood Sugar with Probiotics
  6. Hydrate for Balanced Blood Sugar
  7. Harness Chromium and Magnesium for Blood Sugar Support
  8. Snack Smarter for Blood Sugar Balance
  9. Sleep Well for Better Blood Sugar Management
  10. Manage Stress for Balanced Blood Sugar
  11. Track Your Blood Sugar for Success
  12. Explore Emerging Options for Blood Sugar Control

1. Move Your Body for Lasting Blood Sugar Benefits

Having an healthy and active live

Regular physical activity offers a double benefit:

  • it helps you reach and maintain a healthy weight,
  • and it improves your body’s ability to use insulin effectively.

The Importance Of Weight Control

Maintaining a moderate weight is crucial for healthy blood sugar levels and reducing your risk of type 2 diabetes. But how much weight loss are we talking about, and what kind of physical activity is most effective?

The good news is that even modest weight loss can make a significant difference. Research shows that losing just 5% of your body weight can improve blood sugar regulation [6].

Exercise: Your Blood Sugar Ally

Physical activity is a powerful tool for managing blood sugar. Here’s the science behind it [7]:

  • Sugar for Energy: Your muscles use blood sugar for energy, especially during exercise. So, physical activity helps your body utilize the available sugar, further regulating your blood sugar levels.
  • Increased Insulin Sensitivity: Exercise makes your cells more receptive to insulin, allowing them to absorb sugar from the bloodstream more efficiently. This helps keep your blood sugar levels from rising too high.

How Much Exercise is Enough?

Drastic changes and quick fixes might offer temporary results, but for lasting blood sugar management, focus on developing sustainable weight management strategies. This means incorporating healthy eating habits and regular physical activity into your daily routine. Even small changes can make a big difference. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Exercise Snacks: Don’t let the name fool you – “exercise snacks” aren’t treats! They’re short bursts of activity sprinkled throughout your day. Aim to break up your sitting time every 30 minutes with a few minutes of light walking, squats, leg raises, or any simple movement that gets you going [8].
  • Find Activities You Enjoy: From weightlifting to brisk walking, running, swimming, or dancing – choose activities you find fun! Consistency is key, so pick something you’ll look forward to doing.
  • Every Minute Counts: Even if you can’t dedicate long stretches of time to exercise, shorter sessions add up. For example, 10-minute bursts three times a day, five days a week, adds up to 150 minutes per week, the recommended amount for overall health benefits [9].
  • Make Movement a Habit: Look for opportunities to weave physical activity into your everyday routine. Here are some ideas:
    • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
    • Park further away from your destination and walk the extra distance.
    • If you live in a house with stairs, walk up and down a few flights a couple of times a day.
    • Do some quick bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, or push-ups during commercial breaks while watching TV.
    • Take a short walk during your lunch break or schedule a walking meeting with a colleague.
    • Get outside for a walk on a nice day.
  • Monitor Before and After: If you’re managing blood sugar issues, consider checking your levels before and after exercise. This helps you understand how your body responds to different activities and allows you to adjust accordingly.

Remember, any movement is better than no movement! So get out there, get active, and support your body’s natural blood sugar management system.

2. Choose Smart Carbs for Balanced Blood Sugar

The healthiest carbs are whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends people with diabetes be mindful of their carb intake. This may be done by counting carbs and planning meals accordingly [10].

While counting carbs can be a valuable tool for managing blood sugar, especially for initial control, it’s not necessarily required for everyone.

Focusing on developing sustainable eating habits that prioritize low-glycemic index (GI) and low-glycemic load (GL) carbs can be a more practical and long-term approach. This allows you to enjoy a balanced diet without the need for constant measurement or calorie counting.

Several studies have shown that a low-carb diet can be effective in lowering blood sugar levels and preventing spikes [11]. But remember, this doesn’t mean eliminating carbs altogether, bur rather focusing on the quality of the carbs you eat whilst being mindful of their portions.

Choosing the Right Carbs Makes a Difference

When you eat carbs, your digestive system breaks them down into sugars that enter your bloodstream. This triggers the pancreas to release insulin, a hormone that helps your cells absorb the sugar for energy.

Here’s where things get interesting: The type of carbs you eat plays a big role in how quickly your blood sugar rises.

In the past, carbs were simply classified as “simple” or “complex.” This doesn’t give the whole picture though!

The Glycemic Index: Ranking Carbs by Blood Sugar Impact

A more helpful tool for understanding carbs is the glycemic index (GI). The glycemic index ranks carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100 based on how quickly and how much they raise blood sugar levels after eating, compared to pure glucose (sugar) that is given a value of 100 [34].

Typically, a glycemic index of less than 56 is low, from 56 to 69 is medium, and of more than 70 is high [36].

Foods with a high GI, like white bread and sugary beverages, are digested quickly and cause rapid blood sugar spikes. On the other hand, low-GI foods like whole oats or legumes, are digested more slowly, leading to a gradual rise in blood sugar.

Choosing low-GI carbs offers several benefits:

  • Helps control blood sugar: This is especially important for people with diabetes.
  • Supports weight management: Low-GI foods can keep you feeling fuller for longer, reducing cravings [12].

Beyond GI: Considering Glycemic Load for a More Complete Picture

While the GI is helpful, it doesn’t account for the total amount of carbohydrate in a serving. This is where the concept of glycemic load (GL) comes in. GL considers both the GI of a food and the amount of carbohydrate per serving.

GL is calculated by multiplying the food’s glycemic index by the amount of carbohydrate it contains, then dividing by 100 [35].

Typically, a glycemic load of less than 10 is low, from 11 to 19 is medium, and of more than 20 is high.

This provides a more accurate picture of a food’s real-world impact on your blood sugar.

For example, watermelon has a high GI (80). However, a typical serving of watermelon contains a relatively low amount of carbohydrate. This translates to a low glycemic load (around 8). This highlights why GI alone might not tell the whole story.

To promote good health, prioritize carb-rich foods with low glycemic loads [33].

Beyond Individual Foods: GI & GL of Your Meals

A meal is typically composed of various foods, each with its own glycemic index and glycemic load. What truly matters is how your entire meal affects your insulin response – the glycemic index and glycemic load of the complete meal.

However, there’s no need to become obsessed with calculating the exact GI and GL of every meal. Focusing on the following principles for incorporating healthy carbs into your meals is more than enough.

Let’s Make Smart Carbs Choices

Here’s a quick guide to incorporating healthy carbs into your diet:

  • Load up on veggies: Most non-starchy vegetables are naturally low-GL.
  • Focus on whole grains: Whole wheat, brown rice, spelt, kamut, rye, oats, buckwheat (pseudocereal), barley, quinoa (pseudocereal), amaranth (pseudocereal), chia (pseudocereal), millet, bulgur, sorghum, teff, and triticale offer a fantastic range of low-GI carbs to fuel your body. When possible, opting for these grains in their whole form – like wheat berries, oat groats, brown rice kernels, and so on – provides the most nutritional benefits due to their intact fiber content. However, delicious whole-grain breads and pastas made with minimally processed whole grains are also excellent choices. The key is to prioritize whole grains over refined ones whenever possible.
  • Don’t forget fruits: Many fruits have low or medium glycemic index and load, some example include the following (when consumed raw): pear (GL 4), orange (GL 5), apple (GL 6), watermelon (GL 8), pineapple (GL 11), banana (GL 13) [37].
  • Add healthy fats and protein: Including these in your carbs meals can help slow down digestion and further stabilize blood sugar. These contain few of no carbs and therefore don’t have a GI value.
  • Control your portions: Ultimately, the amount of food you eat remains a crucial factor for your blood sugar response. Even low-glycemic index and load foods can significantly impact your blood sugar if you eat them in large quantities.

Key Takeaway: Focus On Quality And Quantity Of Your Carbs

Rather than doing GI and GL calculations, just focus on these two simple criteria:

  • Quality: Prioritize carbs from non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, and lower glycemic-load fruits
  • Quantity: Watch your portions. Even healthy carbs above can significantly raise your blood sugar when eaten in excessive amounts.

Learn more:

3. Fiber Up for Steady Blood Sugar

The amazing health benefits of fiber rich foods

Fiber plays a crucial role in slowing down the digestion and absorption of carbs.

This translates to a more gradual rise in blood sugar levels, preventing those unwanted spikes.

Two Types of Fiber, One Big Benefit

There are two main types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Both are important for overall gut health, but soluble fiber takes the crown when it comes to blood sugar management.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water, forming a gel-like substance in your digestive system. This gel slows down the breakdown of carbs and sugar absorption, leading to a steadier rise in blood sugar.

Including plenty of fiber in your diet helps with blood sugar control, minimizing those unwanted dips and spikes.

So, where can you find this magic nutrient?

Soluble fiber rich foods
  • Soluble fiber can lower glucose and blood cholesterol levels.
  • Examples of soluble rich fiber foods include: oatmeal, chia seeds, nuts, beans, lentils, apples, and blueberries.
Insoluble fiber rich foods
  • Insoluble fiber can help promoting intestinal regularity and preventing constipation by speeding up food transit through the digestive system.
  • Examples of insoluble rich fiber include: whole wheat products, quinoa, brown rice, legumes, leafy greens like kale, almonds, walnuts, seeds, and fruits with edible skins like pears and apples.

How Much Fiber Do You Need?

The recommended daily intake of fiber for adults is around 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. Women and men older than 50 should have 21 and 30 daily grams, respectively [13].

Learn more:

4. Master Meal Portions for Balanced Blood Sugar

Learn how to combine essential nutrients and build healthy meals

By being mindful of how much you eat, you can regulate your calorie intake and maintain a healthy weight.

Here’s why portion control matters:

  • Healthy Weight Promotion: Portion control helps you avoid overeating and supports a healthy weight. Maintaining a moderate weight is crucial for good blood sugar management and reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes [39].
  • Blood Sugar Spikes Prevention: When you pile your plate high, you’re setting yourself up for a blood sugar spike. Monitoring portion sizes helps prevent this unwanted rollercoaster effect.

Learn more:

5. Control Blood Sugar with Probiotics

Eating probiotic foods contributes to a healthy microbiome and plays an important role in promoting the correct functioning of the human body.

Probiotics are live bacteria that reside in your gut and offer a variety of health benefits, including promoting healthy blood sugar regulation.

Studies have shown that probiotic intake may lead to improvements in several blood sugar markers in people with type 2 diabetes, including [14]:

  • Lower Fasting Blood Sugar Levels
  • Improved Glycemic Control (HbA1c)
  • Reduced Insulin Resistance

Strength in Diversity

Interestingly, research suggests that consuming a variety of probiotic strains over a period of at least 8 weeks may yield the most significant benefits for blood sugar control [29][30]. This means it’s important to incorporate a variety of probiotic foods in your diet.

A few examples of healthy probiotic foods are fermented foods such as: yogurt, milk kefir and water kefir, fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and pickles, tempeh, kimchi, miso and kombucha. To ensure a live and active probiotic culture, choose unpasteurized options whenever possible or look for products labeled “live and active cultures” or “contains probiotics” to ensure you’re getting the beneficial bacteria.

Learn more:

6. Hydrate for Balanced Blood Sugar

Drinking enough water offers a simple yet effective way to support your body’s natural blood sugar management system.

Water plays a vital role by:

  • Lowering Blood Sugar Levels: Studies suggest that adequate water intake may help lower blood sugar levels [15].
  • Flushing Out Excess Sugar: Your kidneys use water to flush excess sugar out of your body through urine. Proper hydration ensures this process runs smoothly, helping to regulate blood sugar levels [40].

Water: The Clear Choice

When it comes to hydration, water is the clear winner. Choose water and other natural zero-calorie beverages over sugary drinks. Sugar-sweetened options can actually increase blood sugar levels, promote weight gain, and raise your risk of developing diabetes [16].

7. Harness Chromium and Magnesium for Blood Sugar Support

Unlocking The Secrets Of Phytonutrients In Colorful Foods

Research suggests a link between high blood sugar levels and deficiencies in certain micronutrients, including chromium and magnesium.

Chromium: Potential Blood Sugar Regulator

Chromium plays a role in carbohydrate and fat metabolism. Some studies suggest it may enhance the action of insulin, potentially aiding in blood sugar regulation [17].

Learn more:

Magnesium: A Mineral for Blood Sugar Support

Magnesium has also shown potential benefits for blood sugar control. Studies suggest diets rich in magnesium are linked to a lower risk of developing diabetes. Conversely, low magnesium levels may contribute to insulin resistance and decreased glucose tolerance in people with diabetes [18].

Learn more:

Who Needs Magnesium Supplements?

If you already have a healthy diet rich in magnesium-rich foods and maintain adequate blood levels, then supplementation likely won’t provide additional benefits.

8. Snack Smarter for Blood Sugar Balance

Snack Smarter for Blood Sugar Balance

Snacking between meals can be an option for people who are healthy, have prediabetes, or have diabetes.

The need to snack depends on your personal goals and preferences.

If you have diabetes, the need to snack may also depend on your medications. Some medications, in fact, can put you at risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). In these cases, you may need a snack in-between meals sometimes to help keep your blood sugar up [23].

Now, let’s explore some healthy snack options to support balanced blood sugar.

Healthy Snacks:

Not all snacks are created equal. Here are some tips for making smart snack choices [24] [25] [26] [27][28]

  • High protein and fat, low carb:
    • Nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios, peanuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, cashews) – make a trail mix or buy a pre-mixed bag.
    • Hard-boiled eggs – pair with a healthy dipping sauce.
    • Seeded vegetables (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds) – eat slowly for increased satiety.
  • Low glycemic index carbohydrates:
    • Raw vegetables with a healthy dipping sauce (olive oil mayonnaise, guacamole, hummus, tzatziki).
    • Grilled or roasted vegetables with a dipping sauce.
    • Plain full-fat Greek yogurt with fresh fruit.
    • Dried seaweed (Nori).
  • Other healthy options:
    • Fruit (fresh, frozen or canned without added sugars).
    • Olives (sweet or flavored varieties recommended).
    • Roasted chestnuts.
    • Oatcakes, wholegrain rice cakes, wholegrain crackers (read the ingredient list and avoid added sugar and salt options).

Snacks to Avoid:

  • White flour products: cookies, crackers, breadsticks, pretzels, toast, bagels, bread.
  • Sugary sweets: cakes, cupcakes, donuts, cookies with sugary fillings, muffins, brownies.
  • Fried and salty snacks: French fries, chips.
  • Processed snack bars: most energy bars are high in added sugar, fat, and sodium.
  • Sweetened yogurts and sugary dairy products: ice cream, popsicles.
  • Candy and sugary chocolates.

Note: “Organic” products are not necessarily healthier – focus on the ingredients list instead.

General Tips:

  • Keep healthy snacks on hand to avoid unhealthy temptations.
  • Prepare snacks ahead of time whenever possible.
  • Eat snacks slowly and mindfully.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
  • Listen to your body and eat when you’re truly hungry.

Learn more:

9. Sleep Well for Better Blood Sugar Management

Decide to have a longer and healthier life

We’ve explored a variety of eating strategies to keep your blood sugar in check, and now let’s talk about something that might surprise you: sleep!

Getting enough quality sleep is crucial not only for overall health but also for blood sugar management [19].

Why Sleep Matters for Blood Sugar

When you don’t prioritize sleep, it can negatively impact your blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity. This can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and contribute to weight gain.

Here’s a deeper look at the connection:

  • Appetite and Weight: Poor sleep can disrupt hormones that regulate appetite, leading to increased cravings and potential weight gain, both of which can impact blood sugar control.
  • Cortisol Levels: Cortisol, the stress hormone, plays a role in blood sugar management. Sleep deprivation raises cortisol levels, further affecting how your body regulates blood sugar.

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

The (US) National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get at least 7-8 hours of quality sleep per night [20]. Prioritizing this restorative time allows your body to function optimally, including regulating blood sugar levels effectively.

Learn more:

10. Manage Stress for Balanced Blood Sugar

Empower Yourself: Take Control of Your Health and Well-being

Chronic stress can have a significant impact on your blood sugar levels [21].

When you’re stressed, your body releases hormones like glucagon and cortisol. These hormones play a role in the “fight-or-flight” response, and one of their side effects is raising blood sugar levels to provide readily available energy.

This can be helpful in short bursts, but chronic stress keeps those hormones elevated, leading to persistently high blood sugar levels.

Stress Management for Blood Sugar Benefits

The good news is that managing stress can have a positive impact on your blood sugar control. Here are some strategies to manage stress and support healthy blood sugar levels:

  • Exercise: Physical activity is a fantastic stress reliever. Aim for regular exercise to help keep your body and mind balanced.
  • Relaxation Techniques: Explore relaxation methods like yoga or mindfulness-based stress reduction. These practices can help calm your nervous system and promote a sense of well-being.

Learn more:

11. Track Your Blood Sugar for Success

Glucose monitor

Monitoring your blood sugar levels allows you to take a more proactive approach to managing them [22].

Using a portable blood glucose meter (glucometer) lets you track your blood sugar throughout the day. Discuss this option with your doctor to see if it’s right for you.

Benefits of Blood Sugar Monitoring

  • Informed Adjustments: By tracking your blood sugar, you can see how your body reacts to certain foods and activities. This knowledge empowers you to adjust your meals, medications, or exercise routine as needed.
  • Personalized Insights: Regular monitoring helps you identify patterns and understand what triggers blood sugar spikes. This allows you to fine-tune your approach rather than avoiding favorite foods completely. For example, you might swap a starchy side dish for non-starchy vegetables, or limit portion sizes of certain foods.

Monitoring Tips

  • Track Regularly: Aim to measure your blood sugar levels consistently throughout the day.
  • Log Your Numbers: Keep track of your blood sugar readings and any relevant factors like meals, medications, or exercise.
  • Track in Pairs: Consider tracking your blood sugar in pairs – before and after exercise, or before and two hours after a meal. This can reveal how your body responds to specific activities and food choices.

Remember, blood sugar monitoring is a tool to empower you, not a source of stress. Talk to your doctor about your goals and develop a monitoring plan that works best for you.

Learn more:

12. Explore Emerging Options for Blood Sugar Control

Fufang Huangqi Decoction may have positive effects on the Gut Microbiota

This chapter explores some potential options that are gaining interest, but require further exploration.

Many plants and foods have been used traditionally for their medicinal properties. However, scientific research on their effectiveness for blood sugar management is often limited. There simply haven’t been enough high-quality studies with large enough participant groups to draw definitive conclusions.

Here are some examples of foods generating interest:

Important Considerations

  • Consult Your Doctor: If you’re already taking medications for blood sugar control, talk to your doctor before adding any of these foods or considering supplements. There’s a possibility of interactions that could affect your health.
  • Supplement Regulation: The FDA has less stringent regulations for supplements compared to prescription medications. Choose supplements from reputable brands that have been tested by independent labs for purity and ingredient accuracy.

Remember: These are emerging areas of research, and more studies are needed to confirm their effectiveness and safety.


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[10] Carb Counter and Diabetes | ADA

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