“How can I lower my blood sugars?”
It’s the number one question I hear. Many people want a simple, one-stop, easy solution — preferably one that will allow them to eat and live as they did before they had diabetes, but, there’s not. In all my years of research, I’ve found that the best way to lower your blood sugars in the healthiest way possible is — “a diabetic diet, taking the right supplements, and exercising.” This is a topic worthy of a book because there is so much great information out there, but here is an abbreviated version of my top three tips on how to lower your blood sugars:
1) DIABETES DIET TIPS
You probably heard the “diet talk” when you were first diagnosed with diabetes or at each doctor's visit. Thats because diet is the number one way to bring your diabetes under control, and even reverse it, faster than any medication. That “diet” can include fasting, or intermittent fasting as well. You will probably never go back to eating the way you did before a diabetes diagnosis- but you can feel better than you ever did before, too!
A good approach is a diet high in nutrients, low in carbs, and moderate in calories. If you’re not sure how to create a healthy and flavorful diet that works for you, consider meeting with a diabetes educator. They can help you dial in the best diet for your age, weight, and health level. American Diabetes Association has a tool to help you find Diabetes Education programs near you: https://www.diabetes.org/diabetes/find-a-program.
Worst Foods for Diabetes
Research shows that eating a lot of carbohydrates —such as rice, potatoes, and pasta—can lead to chronically higher blood sugar levels. Try to limit or eliminate the following foods that are high in carbohydrates for best results:
- Starchy vegetables - potatoes, peas, and corn
- Fruit & fruit juice
- Yogurt and milk
- Sweets - cakes, cookies, candy, ice cream
Best Foods for Diabetes
Consider reducing portion sizes of the foods listed above OR substitute them for a non-starchy vegetable, foods high in fiber, or healthy fats. Fibers are known to help decrease blood sugar levels. Here are some good options:
- Broccoli or cauliflower
- Green beans
- Brussels sprouts
- Nuts (walnuts, almonds, etc)
In my practice, it has been most helpful for people to aim for less than 30 grams of carb in total for a meal (this is definitely "low-carb"!) at three meals per day. Are you not sure how many carbohydrates are in a food or it doesn't have a food label? Check http://calorieking.com/ - you can type in any food and it will give you nutrition facts!
Lastly, I have also found that even though a food "isn't supposed" to affect blood sugars - it sometimes still does. Everyone may respond to certain foods differently. Person 1 with diabetes might have a huge spike in blood sugar after eating an apple, and person 2 with diabetes might not notice much at all. The easiest way to learn the best foods for YOU is to check sugars right before and 1-2 hours after eating certain foods (or wear a CGM or continuous glucose monitor).
2) TAKE THE RIGHT SUPPLEMENTS
Why supplements? The food we eat today, even if it’s organic, just doesn’t contain the levels of nutrition it did a century ago. We can’t eat enough in a day to get the amount of additional vitamins and ingredients our great grandparents did. That’s why supplements can be so critical in maintaining healthy blood sugars and correcting deficiencies - especially in type 2 diabetes.
People with type 2 diabetes almost always have deficiencies in magnesium and chromium, which make insulin resistance much worse. Additionally, some diabetes medications (Metformin in particular) can cause Vitamin B12 deficiency - exacerbating nerve damage. This is why we include magnesium, chromium, and Vitamin B12 in our Blood Sugar 24 Hour Support. I recommend these ingredients to ALL of my patients with type 2 diabetes.
Medical research shows that other natural ingredients can also help with blood sugars. Cinnamon and banaba act as natural insulin sensitizers. Berberine supports the health of your insulin producing organ - the pancreas. Gymnema helps to curb sugar cravings. Milk Thistle helps lower markers of kidney and liver damage. Please consider learning more about the natural supplements at Diabetes Doctor. We have taken the combination of the most effective ingredients, at clinically studied doses, and put them into different blends based on what you need: click here to learn more. If you have committed to trying a natural option, I am confident we have made the best one - and our Medical Advisory Board agrees.
The secret to success with supplements is to take the right ingredients in the right doses and take them consistently every day. It is important to remember that naturally supplements usually take time for nutrient levels to build up and work. It doesn’t happen overnight - so don't quit after a week. But generally if you don’t notice ANYTHING by a month or two (although full benefits of natural supplements can take months), it is probably not worth continuing to take.
If you want immediate proof that exercise works, check your blood sugar level before and after an activity. Most people experience a 10-50 degree drop in their blood sugar levels depending on the intensity of the exercise they’ve done. That’s because the body uses glucose to get the necessary energy to exercise. This drop in blood sugar is generally sustained throughout the day and sometimes even carries into overnight or the next day.
My favorite tip is to exercise when it matters the most. Consider just a 10-15 minute walk after eating to curb those after-meal sugar spikes!
Don't worry so much about the type of exercise. It is most important to do SOMETHING, anything! Walk, run, lift weights, yoga, kickbox, dance, etc. Try searching “You-Tube” for some fun 15-30 minute exercise routines that you can do in your living room. However, beware that some exercises can actually temporarily increase sugars. Sprinting or interval training, for example, spikes adrenaline which can spike blood sugars. Over time, however, sugars usually drop down to lower levels than before.
A Final Word from Dr. Redmond....
Sleep and stress can also have a huge impact on blood sugars! If you struggle with either area, make sure you dedicate some attention there to see lower blood sugars.
It is important to acknowledge that THESE tips may not be enough for everyone to control their diabetes. Don't feel defeated if you need medications. Sometimes the pancreas cannot keep up regardless of lifestyle. This could be from injury to the pancreas, an autoimmune disorder, or having diabetes for a long time. Research actually shows if you use medications EARLY to control blood sugars - the less likely you are to need insulin down the road (since it "saves" the pancreas' ability to make insulin and prevents it from wearing out). If you need medications, you can still implement diet, exercise, and natural supplements. As blood sugars decrease, work with your doctor on reducing medications as much as possible.