- How Diabetes Affects Blood Sugar
- Causes of High Blood Sugar Levels
- 7 Ways to Lower Blood Sugar Levels
- Related Resources
Although diet plays a major role in regulating your blood sugar levels, there are no such foods that can bring down the blood sugar level quickly. You can, however, include foods in your diet that will help to regulate your blood sugar at healthy levels and prevent episodes of high blood sugar.
A healthy diabetes meal plan contains various nutrients in healthy proportions.
Some of the foods that help keep your blood sugar levels in the healthy range include:
- Green peas
- Leafy greens such as spinach, collards, kale, and beet
- Green beans
- Bok choy
- Brussels sprouts
- Peppers including bell peppers and jalapeno
- Crookneck squash
- Snow peas
- Certain fruits:
- Dried apricots
- Unripe banana
- Whole or minimally processed grains:
- Whole wheat
- Oat bran and rice bran cereals
- Whole grain pasta
- Whole-grain pumpernickel bread
- Sourdough bread
- Wheat tortilla
- Nuts and nut butter
- Seeds such as pumpkin, chia, sunflower, and flaxseeds
- Poultry such as chicken and turkey
- Eggs and egg whites
- Fish and shellfish
- Meat such as beef and pork
- Oils such as extra virgin olive oil and canola oil
- Spices such as cinnamon and supplements like apple cider vinegar
- Dairy and dairy-substitute products:
- Plain yogurt
- Cottage cheese
- Soy milk and yogurt
Including these foods in healthy proportions along with regular physical activity can help you manage your blood sugar level well. You can take your doctor’s or nutritionist’s help to know about a healthy meal plan.
How does diabetes affect blood sugar levels?
Diabetes or diabetes mellitus is a long-term health condition that is characterized by high blood glucose levels. The disease affects the ability of the body to convert food into energy inside the body.
- The food you eat is converted to simpler forms, most commonly glucose, inside the body.
- When the glucose in the blood increases, the body releases a hormone called insulin in the blood.
- Insulin brings high blood glucose levels back to normal levels.
In diabetes, either there is a deficiency of insulin or the body is unable to respond to insulin (insulin resistance). In either of the cases, there is an increased concentration of glucose in the blood known as hyperglycemia.
If you have diabetes, you must check your blood sugar levels regularly to make sure the levels are not too low (less than 70 mg/dL called hypoglycemia) or too high (more than 180 mg/dL). Depending on your age and any other health conditions, your doctor may advise you to keep your blood sugar level in a range that they consider will be safe and healthy for you.
Whenever your blood sugar level is over 240 mg/dL, you must check the presence of ketones in the urine by using an over-the-counter (OTC) ketone test kit. High levels of ketones can be a sign of a serious medical emergency called diabetic ketoacidosis.
Seek urgent medical help if your urine shows the presence of ketones or you have any signs of ketoacidosis, such as fast breathing, nausea, vomiting, stomachache, headache, or fruity smell from the mouth.
What are the causes of increased blood sugar levels?
To know how you can manage high blood sugar levels at home, you need to know what can cause an increase in blood sugar levels.
Some of the reasons include:
- Missing a dose of diabetes medications
- Not following the diabetes meal plan
- Lack of physical activity
- Presence of some infection
- The wrong technique of taking insulin injections (your doctor will teach you how to inject insulin properly)
- Wrong dosage or timing (concerning a meal) of diabetes medications
- Any stress or injury including surgery
Keeping your blood sugar levels under control by eating healthy, staying physically active, managing stress, and taking your medications as prescribed is particularly important.
A high blood sugar level can be quickly brought down by injecting rapidly acting insulin. You can ask your doctor about the dosage to be injected to prevent bringing down your blood sugar to dangerously low levels. If you have high blood sugar levels, exercising may help to bring them down.
Frequent or persistently high blood sugar levels need medical attention to know the cause for hyperglycemia.
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7 easy ways to lower blood sugar levels naturally
Natural remedies can help reduce blood sugar levels. However, medical treatment may also be required if blood sugar levels remain consistently high. Hence, you must consult a doctor.
Some natural ways to control blood sugar levels include:
- Exercise: Regular exercise can help maintain a moderate weight and increase insulin sensitivity. Increased insulin sensitivity makes the cells use the available sugar in the bloodstream. Moreover, exercise helps your muscles use blood sugar for energy and muscle contraction. Useful forms of exercise include weightlifting, brisk walking, running, biking, dancing, hiking, swimming, etc.
- Low-carb diet: The body breaks down carbohydrates into sugars (mostly glucose), and then insulin helps the body use and store sugar for energy. Having too many carbs can cause insulin levels to fluctuate and may reduce insulin sensitivity. A low-carb diet is beneficial in controlling blood sugar in the long run.
- Fiber intake: Fiber slows carb digestion, regulates appetite, absorbs sugar, and promotes a more gradual increase in blood sugar levels. Soluble fiber explicitly improves blood sugar management. A high-fiber diet containing vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains can help better manage type 1 diabetes by improving the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar and reducing blood sugar lows.
- Implement portion control: Portion control helps regulate calorie intake and can help maintain a moderate weight. Consequently, weight management promotes healthy blood sugar levels and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Low glycemic index (GI) foods: Eating low-GI foods reduces blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. GI measures how the body absorbs or digests foods, which affects the rate at which blood sugar levels increase. Foods with low (up to 55) to moderate (56-69) GI includes barley, yogurt, oats, burglar, beans, legumes, etc.
- Stress management: Stress can affect blood sugar levels. Hormones such as glucagon and cortisol are secreted during stress. Exercise, relaxation, and meditation significantly reduce stress and lower blood sugar levels.
- Hydration: Drinking enough water may help keep the blood sugar levels within healthy limits. In addition to preventing dehydration, it helps the kidneys flush out excess sugar through urine.
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