How to Keep your Blood Sugar Levels Under Control Naturally

According to the World Health Organization’s report from 2016, around 422 million people worldwide have diabetes. At present, diabetes is considered one of the most common diseases, and its levels are progressively on the rise. One study from the U.S. shows that 38% of people are classified as pre-diabetic. Together with people suffering from diabetes, half of the U.S. population needs to manage their blood sugar levels. [1]

Unfortunately, people who poorly control their blood sugar levels will experience, with time, damage to multiple organs, especially the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and cardiovascular system.

Dietary habits and following a sedentary lifestyle are the major factors for the rapidly rising incidence of diabetes cases in developing countries.

In this article, I will mention the easy lifestyle habits that will help you keep your blood sugar levels and diabetes under control.

1. Drink Enough Water

Drinking enough water is a must for anyone. But, it is especially crucial for people with high blood sugar levels and pre-diabetes. When you drink sufficient amounts of water, your kidneys will help flush the excess blood sugar out of the body. A study showed that antidiuretic hormone, aka vasopressin, which has a role in urine concentration by increasing blood volume, and arterial pressure, is also an essential factor in glucose homeostasis. This shows a direct connection between higher water intake and lower risk of high blood sugar. By drinking sufficient amounts of water, pre-diabetic people can reduce their blood sugar levels and thus lessen their chance of developing diabetes. [2]

2. Get Plenty of Exercise

There is a significant association between physical inactivity and type 2 diabetes. [12] Many biological pathways provide the protective effect exercise has on the prevention of type 2 diabetes.

Firstly, exercise increases sensitivity to insulin. This is especially important in preventing the progression of pre-diabetes into diabetes. The contraction of skeletal muscle enhances the uptake of glucose into the cells during exercise. 

Secondly, blood flow is also increased in the muscles. This enhances glucose uptake into the muscle cell, which lowers blood sugar levels.

Thirdly, regular exercise helps lower intra-abdominal fat, which helps lower inflammation and is a known risk factor for insulin resistance.

And lastly, regular exercise reduces total body fat stores.

All of these are very beneficial for people with high blood sugar and diabetes. [3]

The best forms of exercise for diabetes are endurance exercises, including brisk-walking or running, swimming, and cycling.

3. Eat Foods High in High in Fiber, and Antioxidants

Research shows that a high intake of red meat, sweets, and fried foods, which are very low in fiber, and antioxidants, increases the risk of insulin resistance and diabetes. These foods block the arteries and make the blood thicker as it flows through the arteries. This makes transport of nutrients throughout the body more difficult. [4] On the other hand, a diet rich in vegetables and fruits has been shown to have an inverse correlation with diabetes. Fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants, which protect against the development of diabetes and function as a protective barrier against the disease. [5] 

Fiber substantially slows down sugar absorption by slowing down the breakdown of carbohydrates into glucose. [6-10]

Whole grains of all types, vegetables, fruits, and legumes of all kinds are foods that have a high amount of fiber and antioxidants.

In my research study, whole grains rich in fiber were shown to reduce the risk of the development of diabetes by 27%. This is strengthened by a recent study in Japanese women revealing that high consumption of white rice was associated with an increased risk of diabetes. [11] 

This demands an urgent need for changing lifestyle among the general population and further increase the awareness of healthy dietary patterns in all groups.

Many foods have explicitly been shown to reduce a person’s blood sugar levels. These foods include:

  • Green leafy vegetables 
  • Nuts
  • Cinnamon – a strong antioxidant
  • Turmeric – a very potent anti-inflammatory
  • Chia seeds, walnuts, and flax seeds — which are incredibly high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids which help preserve cell membranes, critical in preventing the deterioration of diabetes.

All in all, the best recipe for keeping diabetes and blood sugar levels in check is following a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle involves plenty of exercise, sufficient water intake, enough sleep, less stress, and a diet based mostly on whole foods that are plant-based. 

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References:

  • [1] Menke A, Casagrande S, Geiss L, Cowie CC. Prevalence of and Trends in Diabetes Among Adults in the United States, 1988-2012. J.A.M.A. 2015;314(10):1021–1029. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.10029
  • [2] Roussel R, Fezeu L, Bouby N, Balkau B, Lantieri O, Alhenc-Gelas F, Marre M, Bankir L; D.E.S.I.R. Study Group. Low water intake and risk for new-onset hyperglycemia. Diabetes Care. 2011 Dec;34(12):2551-4. doi: 10.2337/dc11-0652
  • [3] Chipkin SR, Klugh SA, Chasan-Taber L. Exercise and diabetes. Cardiol Clin. 2001 Aug;19(3):489-505. 
  • [4] Panagiotakos DB, Tzima N, Pitsavos C, Chrysohoou C, Papakonstantinou E, Zampelas A, et al. The relationship between dietary habits, blood glucose and insulin levels among people without cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes; the ATTICA study. Rev Diabet Stud. 2005;2:208–15.
  • [5] Villegas R, Shu XO, Gao YT, Yang G, Elasy T, Li H, et al. Vegetable but not fruit consumption reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes in Chinese women. J Nutr. 2008;138:574–80.
  • [6] Krebs JD, Parry Strong A, Cresswell P, Reynolds AN, Hanna A, Haeusler S. A randomised trial of the feasibility of a low carbohydrate diet vs standard carbohydrate counting in adults with type 1 diabetes taking body weight into account. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2016;25(1):78-84. doi: 10.6133/apjcn.2016.25.1.11.
  • [7] Qureshi AA, Sami SA, Khan FA. Effects of stabilized rice bran, its soluble and fiber fractions on blood glucose levels and serum lipid parameters in humans with diabetes mellitus Types I and II. J Nutr Biochem. 2002 Mar;13(3):175-187.
  • [8] Franz MJ1, Bantle JP, Beebe CA, Brunzell JD, Chiasson JL, Garg A, Holzmeister LA, Hoogwerf B, Mayer-Davis E, Mooradian AD, Purnell JQ, Wheeler M. Evidence-based nutrition principles and recommendations for the treatment and prevention of diabetes and related complications. Diabetes Care. 2002 Jan;25(1):148-98.
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  • [11] Nanri A, Mizoue T, Noda M, Takahashi Y, Kato M, Inoue M, et al. Rice intake and Type 2 diabetes in Japanese men and women: The Japan public health center-based prospective study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010;92:1468–77.