Top 6 Lifestyle Changes to improve your blood sugar levels
In the US, about half of the people are living with obesity. Data also shows that more than 10% of people are living with diabetes while another 30% are living with prediabetes. It is alarming, as metabolic disorders considerably increase the risk of various complications.
Most people with high blood sugar levels have insulin resistance/impaired glucose intolerance. Fortunately, recent studies show that blood sugar can be lowered and diabetes even reversed with the help of non-pharmacological means.
Here are some of the most effective ways of lowering blood sugar levels naturally:
Exercise means higher calorie expenditure. However, it is worth understanding that exercise is not only for lowering blood sugar levels or body weight. Exercise has a range of other benefits. For example, it is suitable for cardio-respiratory health and may even reduce the risk of dementia.
American Heart Association (AHA) recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five times a week. However, 60 minutes of exercise a day may have a much greater role in reducing blood sugar levels (1).
Reduce body weight
Even a moderate reduction of 5-7% body weight may help lower blood glucose levels. However, benefits are much greater if the body weight reduction is more.
It is vital to reduce body weight and maintain it to reduce blood sugar levels. Over the long run, it may have numerous health benefits.
Low calorie and low carb intake
It is one of the most important ways of lowering blood sugar levels. However, weight reduction is only possible by reducing the total calorie intake, especially by cutting down your daily carb intake.
Recent studies show that a low-calorie and low-carb diet may even reverse diabetes. It would be good to practice a 1200 calorie diet for most people. However, 800 calorie diets for a few months may even reverse diabetes in those using medical drugs. In addition, a low carb and low-calorie diet may help lower blood sugar levels in more than 80% of cases (2).
Additionally, it is vital to pay particular attention to the quality of carbs. Thus, one should avoid fast-absorbing carbs and consume complex carbs like those in whole grains or legumes.
Consider restrictive diet forms
Many people find it challenging to reduce total calorie intake or cut down on carbs. Thus, one of the good ways is to switch on to some of the well-known restrictive diet forms.
Here, the options are many, such as the keto diet, paleo diet, etc. However, these diet forms are complex to practice. For example, the Keto diet completely excludes carbs, resulting in an unbalanced diet. Moreover, the keto diet may not be safe for managing severe diabetes treated by insulin. So, the better approach could be to switch to a plant-based diet.
A plant-based diet is naturally low in calories if starchy vegetables and vegetable oil consumption is restricted. Therefore, one does not essentially need to practice it religiously. A plant-based diet merely means getting most calories from grains, lentils, nuts, veggies, and fruits. Studies show that a plant-based diet may help reduce the need for medication in those living with diabetes (3).
Additionally, it is highly recommended to increase the intake of beans and lentils, seeds, nuts, fermented foods like kimchi. These foods boost gut health and have blood sugar lowering properties.
Eat these foods more frequently
Food can also be medicine. Thus, lowering blood sugar does not essentially mean dietary restrictions. In addition, some foods are known to contain bioactive compounds that help lower blood sugar levels.
Try to eat more cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens. These vegetables naturally contain sulforaphane (SFA), a compound known to lower blood sugar, insulin resistance and even help reduce cancer risk (4).
Okra is another wonderful vegetable that has been traditionally used in many parts of the world to reduce blood sugar levels. It is rich in polysaccharides and flavonoids that are known to exert anti-diabetic effects and help lower blood sugar. Moreover, since it is a nutritious vegetable, one can consume it frequently for maximum benefits (5).
Regular use of supplements
It is one of the most overlooked aspects of lowering blood sugar levels. This method is good because it involves consuming supplements of natural origin that do not pose any health risks.
Just take an example of dietary fiber. One way to reduce blood sugar levels is by increasing dietary fiber intake. However, in practice, that can be quite challenging. Especially for those on a low carb diet, as dietary fiber is primarily present in foods that are rich in carbs. Thus, supplementing dietary fiber could be a way out.
Similarly, berberine could be as good as some medications in the early stages of diabetes. Studies show that it is one of the most effective supplements for lowering blood sugar levels. Not only that, but it may also help reduce bad cholesterol levels. Thus, it can also help prevent diabetes-related complications (6).
Meta-analysis of fourteen clinical studies involving 1068 individuals concluded that berberine appears to be quite good for lowering blood sugar and is also good for lowering cholesterol (7).
Similarly, cinnamon has been used to flavor foods for centuries. It is also one of the most ancient remedies for diabetes, specifically Ceylon cinnamon. A systematic review of 10 clinical studies shows that, in most cases, it can help. Systematic reviews are studies that combine the results of multiple clinical studies. Thus, it would be correct to say that there is a high level of clinical evidence that cinnamon works (8).
Finally, it is essential to understand that one should use a combination of methods for best results. Therefore, combine exercise, dietary measures, and the use of supplements for best results. Similarly, one may also use a combination of berberine and cinnamon for maximum benefit.