The bitter truth about diabetes is that when it’s not controlled, it can affect nearly every organ in the body. From the heart and blood vessels, to nerves and kidneys, down to the eyes, gums, and teeth, the complications are serious and sometimes, life-threatening. It’s important to take proactive steps and get the right medical services to manage the disease. While medications help in the treatment of diabetes, lifestyle changes are equally important.
Here at The Hospital at Maayo, we strongly advocate healthy routines and practices to maintain a normal blood sugar level, prevent diabetes, and curb its symptoms and complications when the disease is already present.
We offer a variety of laboratory services, including post-prandial blood sugar (PPBS) test, glucose tolerance test, fasting blood sugar (FBS) test, capillary blood glucose test, and random glucose test, which help patients monitor this health problem. More importantly, we provide sound medical advice to promote healthy living with diabetes.
In this article, we’ll explore why and how you can manage blood sugar levels.
Why manage your blood sugar levels
Monitoring your blood sugar level is key to living healthier with diabetes. It prevents severe complications, including vision impairment, kidney failure, heart attacks and strokes, and nervous system damage.
A healthy blood sugar range differs from one individual to another. The Hospital at Maayo’s doctors advise a target range for blood glucose depending on the patient’s type of diabetes, age, and overall health, among other factors.
Even individuals who are not suffering from diabetes can benefit from maintaining a normal blood sugar level. Aside from lowering your risk of developing the disease, the lifestyle routines mentioned above can help you maintain a healthy weight, lower cortisol levels, and make you more energized and ready for life’s challenges.
How to lower blood sugar level naturally
In a nutshell, your approach to diabetes should involve a healthy diet, regular physical activity, and enough rest. Here are the specific ways to reduce blood sugar level naturally:
Avoid high-sugar food items.
What you eat plays a huge factor in maintaining a healthy blood glucose level. Beware of these food items that are high in sugar:
- Fast food. Most people associate fast food with calories and fat, but they’re also packed with sugar and carbs. If you can’t completely go off the fast food, try to limit your consumption to manage blood sugar. This is especially important for certain food items like buns, fries, and condiments.
- Sweetened beverages. Soda contains high amounts of sugar. But aside from potentially causing your blood sugar to increase, it doesn’t have any nutrient to it. It doesn’t make you full either. That said, swap sweetened beverages for the good old water. If you can’t completely do away with flavored drinks, the better alternative is adding freshly sliced fruit into your water.
- Processed fruits. These include canned fruits with heavy sugar syrup, chewy fruit rolls, regular jams, and fruit juice drinks. A healthier option is fresh fruit, since the type of sugar in these items is fructose, which doesn’t have much of an effect on blood glucose levels.
Stay away from these types of food as much as possible to avoid experiencing spikes in glucose. Before meals, it’s always good to check your blood sugar as a health precaution.
Consume more high-fiber food.
While you give up carbs and sugar, switch to the healthier option, fiber. This nutrient can help stabilize blood glucose levels, as it slows the absorption of sugar. Promoting gut bacteria growth, it can prevent weight gain, reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease.
These are some high-fiber food items you can add to your everyday meals:
- Leafy greens (kale and spinach)
- Nuts and seeds
High-fiber food promotes satiety. Since you’re already feeling full, you’re able to say no to unhealthy food packed with sugar and carbs.
Eat in moderation.
It’s equally important to pay attention to the manner of eating. Hospitals, especially nutrition services in Cebu encourage people to eat in moderation. Rather than consuming big meals, spread out your food all throughout the day. This helps regulate blood sugar levels, preventing spikes and dips.
Aside from moderation, slow eating is advisable and beneficial. People who consume food fast don’t realize they’re full until they’ve already eaten too many carbs or sugar. In contrast, when you take your time chewing and savoring meals, you allow the body to have enough time to receive satiety signals. With this, you’re able to eat only as much food as your body needs.
Drink more water.
Dehydration can trigger sugar spikes. When you’re low on fluids, the glucose in your blood becomes more concentrated. The dehydration gets worse since diabetic patients tend to urinate more, as the kidneys try to eliminate the excess sugar in the body. For this reason, people with diabetes should hydrate regularly.
Here are some action steps you can take to drink more water:
- Always bring a filled water bottle with you. With this, you can quickly fill up when your body sends thirst signals.
- Use drink more water apps. With this tech, you can set a time and reminder for drinking water and not forget about it.
- Tie it to a repetitive activity. For example, if you have back-to-back online meetings for the day, condition your mind into drinking water before going to a meeting. Or whenever you pee, that’s your signal to refill.
Shed a few extra pounds.
The extra inches around your waist is fat building up around the liver and pancreas. This visceral fat releases a compound that impairs the body’s sensitivity to insulin. With insulin resistance, the blood sugar levels increase and the symptoms of diabetes become more apparent.
Thus, slimming down isn’t just about looking good, but also being well for diabetic patients.
The diet tips mentioned above can help you in your weight loss journey. Skimping on carbs reduces the amount of calories consumed, which then allows your body to burn fats stored around your midsection and give you the energy you need. Meanwhile, incorporating high-fiber food and eating slowly can help you feel more satiated, preventing overeating. All these contribute to regulating blood sugar levels.
Lead an active lifestyle.
Exercise helps in diabetes management not only in the aspect of weight loss. When you engage in physical activity, the muscles use glucose even without insulin. This means whether or not you don’t have enough insulin, your blood glucose level will go down as you sweat yourself out.
The key to sticking to a fitness routine is picking one that you genuinely enjoy. Don’t go for what’s most popular. Instead, choose an activity that you think you can do for a long time. Whatever you pick, make sure to check your blood sugar levels before exercising, especially if you take insulin. If it’s low, try to eat a small meal with 15 to 30 grams of carbs. If your blood sugar level is too high, wait until it reaches a safe blood sugar range.
Get enough sleep.
Lack of sleep can negatively affect the ability of fat cells to respond to insulin. This can then result in increased blood sugar levels. Aside from the direct impact on your body, sleep deprivation results in unhealthy habits.
For example, you’re more likely to reach for junk food, especially those high in carbs and sugar. The brain region responsible for complex judgments and decisions is negatively affected by sleep loss.
In contrast, the primal brain structures that are involved in motivation and desire become more active in sleep-deprived individuals, which explains why you would want to binge-eat unhealthy meals when you don’t have much sleep.
That said, enough sleep is critical in diabetes management. It’s no secret however that the disease makes it hard to have a proper rest sometimes. When blood sugar level runs high, the kidneys address the problem by making you urinate more often, causing major disruptions in sleep. To prevent this problem, follow a healthy diet and engage in exercise all throughout the day.
Stress causes an increased production of the fight-or-flight hormone cortisol. To help you respond to a perceived threat, the body supplies energy in the form of glucose in the bloodstream. If you’re chronically stressed and suffering from insulin resistance, the sugar accumulates in the blood. Thus, prioritizing stress management plays a huge part in disease management.
Besides proper sleep and exercise, meditation is effective in relieving stress. Practice mindfulness, visualization, or deep breathing whenever you’re stressed out. These are things you can do while at work, on a commute, or in line for something.
These healthy routines mentioned above should help you manage blood sugar levels and prevent severe complications. Make it a habit to check glucose levels and consult your doctor.
To manage diabetes better and reduce the complications of the disease, remember these three important action steps:
- Adopt a healthy diet. Swap meals packed with sugar and carbs for those rich in fiber. Eat slowly and in moderation. Hydrate regularly.
- Get moving. Pick an exercise you love. Don’t just ride on what’s trending or popular. Find one that you think you can stick to for a long time.
- Rest well. Get enough sleep and have time for recreation for stress relief.
If you’re interested in knowing more about our laboratory services for managing blood sugar levels, schedule an appointment with us at The Hospital at Maayo.