Vitality

Effective Ways To Maintain Healthy Blood Sugar Levels

Normally, glucose, better known as blood sugar, plays a role in cell production, acting as a fuel for all cells. Too much of it, however, can slowly damage your body over time, resulting in harmful diseases such as diabetes and its precursor prediabetes, the latter affecting over 86 million Americans, according to the American Diabetes Association. 

Luckily for you, diseases like diabetes can be prevented by maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, with effective ways to do it:

Minimize Processed Food

One major step towards a balanced blood sugar level is by cutting down on most packaged food, instead focusing on whole vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds and quality meats and fish. 

It is also important to be realistic since you are probably not going to avoid packaged food completely. It is therefore best to select packaged food that is made from mostly whole food ingredients, such as an energy bar made mostly of nuts, seeds and dried fruit. 

Of course, when practicing a healthy diet, make sure that you check its glycemic load since it can result in blood sugar spikes especially when eating dried fruit and whole grains.

Consume Fiber, Protein And Healthy Fats 

  • Fiber - Because fiber slows down carbohydrate digestion and sugar absorption, it is best that the diet you are practicing should be heavy in fiber-rich fruit, whole grain and especially non-starchy vegetables for reduced blood sugar levels. Examples of good fiber-rich sources include leafy greens, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, artichokes,  beans, lentils, peas, avocados, pumpkin seeds and oatmeal.
  • Protein - A breakfast rich in protein is a good way for you to start a day. That is because like fiber, protein tempers insulin secretion, slowing down blood sugar rise after a meal and making you feel full better than any other nutrient. Protein-rich food includes freshly-caught fish, grass-fed beef, pasture-raised chicken and eggs and certain plant-based food if you are a vegetarian or vegan.
  • Healthy Fats - Healthy or unsaturated fats not only slow down blood sugar spikes, but have been specifically linked to improved insulin resistance in one study. Refined fats and processed vegetable oils, by contrast, amp up the risk of blood-sugar-increasing inflammation, and therefore must be avoided. So as part of your diet, it is best to look for good sources of healthy fats, which include nuts, avocado and fatty fish such as salmon. 

Each of these nutrients can handle blood sugar by themselves, but eating meals containing at least some fiber, protein and healthy fats not only help you stabilize blood sugar levels, but also manage your appetite. Just keep in mind their glycemic load that can cause an increase in blood sugar.

Alternatively, if you are still struggling with fruits and veggies, then you can add a dose of green powder to your meals in order to maintain healthy blood sugar. This dried and powdered form of various fruits and vegetables provides the entire daily recommended serving of vegetables in one serving.

Eat Magnesium-Rich Food 

What do leafy green vegetables, pumpkin seeds, almonds, black beans, dark chocolate and avocado have in common? They all contain magnesium, which is said to be particularly important when maintaining blood sugar levels and improving insulin sensitivity, in addition to having a role in more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body.  

They are especially effective when combined with chromium-rich food such as broccoli, barley and oats. One study found that both minerals are more effective in decreasing insulin resistance than either one alone.

Probiotics 

Typically known for aiding in digestive health, probiotics also play a role in blood sugar maintenance. A study found that people who followed a heart-healthy DASH diet and also consumed probiotic food experienced a decrease in blood sugar and A1C levels -- a marker for testing prolonged blood sugar levels. Probiotic-rich food includes plain yogurt, kimchi and sauerkraut. 

Apple Cider Vinegar 

If taken before eating and combined with a glass of water, a shot of apple cider vinegar can keep your blood sugar level in check. That is because research has shown that it can cut post-meal blood sugar levels by about 50 percent, owing to the theory that one component of the vinegar, acetic acid, slows down carb conversion into sugar in the bloodstream.

Cinnamon 

Cinnamon may not be a superfood, but a sprinkle of it can amplify a healthy diet with the bonus of added taste. Some research suggest that cinnamon can increase insulin sensitivity and therefore maintain healthy blood sugar.

Switch Carbohydrate Intake 

Lowering (but not totally cutting off) carbohydrate intake also balances out your blood sugar levels. Substitute refined carbs (e.g. bread, pasta) with whole food sources rich in fiber such as whole grains, sweet potatoes and fruits, with the latter containing a number of essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. As in the case of processed food, do keep in mind the glycemic load of the carbs you consume.

Eat Bigger Meals Earlier In The Day 

As the day progresses, your body becomes more resistant to insulin, and a bigger dinner in the evening will cause greater blood sugar spikes. It is for this reason that nutrition experts recommend eating bigger meals earlier in the day and having a smaller dinner at least three hours before going to bed.

Drink Lots Of Water 

Drinking water helps your kidneys flush out excess blood sugar via your urine. One study found that people who drank more water had lower risk of having high blood sugar.

Sleep 

Sleep deprivation and stress can cause increased levels of cortisol, raising blood sugar in the process. To lower your blood sugar, aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep at night and practice stress-relieving activities such as exercise, yoga and meditation.

Exercise 

Blood glucose fuels your muscles, helping you maintain a healthy blood sugar level and increase insulin sensitivity, so it makes sense to first practice a moderate intensity exercise such as walking, jogging and yoga before working your way up because intense workouts can result in a temporary blood sugar spike.

Blood sugar test Diabetes rates finally started to plateau, but there's still cause for concern. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

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