12 Healthy Ways to Lower Your Blood Sugar (2022)

Whether you have diabetes or prediabetes—or just generally suffer ill effects from crazy blood sugar swings—you want to know what really works to control your blood sugar levels. It can make all the difference in living well and staying off the blood sugar roller coaster that can drag down your mood and energy and skew your hunger levels. Here are a dozen tips that will help your blood sugar and your overall health. (If you have diabetes, remember you should always work with your health care team first to help control your blood sugar.)

Read More: Best Foods for Diabetes

1. Walk It Out

Being naturally thin is not license to stay on your butt. Even for adults at a healthy weight, those who classify as couch potatoes have higher blood sugar than those who are more active, according to a 2017 study from the University of Florida. That can put you at risk for prediabetes, even if you have a normal BMI. Take the stairs, run errands on foot (if possible), keep that promise to your dog to take him on a walk, and go for that weekend bike ride. Even taking a few minute break to walk each day can add up. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.

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Pistachio-Crusted Chicken with Warm Barley Salad

12 Healthy Ways to Lower Your Blood Sugar (1)

2. Eat More Barley

In your effort to eat more quinoa, you might have forgotten about an oldie-but-goodie carb: barley. This whole grain is packed with fiber that tamps down your appetite and can help decrease blood sugar, according to a Swedish study published in the journal Cell Metabolism. Why? Your gut bacteria interacts with barley, which may in turn help your body metabolize glucose (sugar). Besides, 1 cup of cooked barley contains 6 grams of fiber, which helps to mute blood sugar spikes. Don't be afraid to toss it in soups, on a roasted veggie salad, or have it as a side to fish or chicken.

3. Bump Up Your Exercise Intensity

Exercise is a great way to boost your body's ability to manage blood sugar, but making sure it's a heart-pumping workout will help even more. Performing brief spurts of high-intensity exercise (like sprinting on the treadmill for 30 seconds, then walking or slowly jogging until you recover) improved blood glucose levels in diabetics and healthy people for one to three days, per a 2013 review of research. Muscles soak up glucose during exercise to burn for energy, and the higher-intensity movements may aid this process even more.

4. Combine Your Macronutrients

Carbs plus protein or fat is a super combo when it comes to controlling blood sugar. The protein or fat you eat slows down digestion, thus buffering a blood sugar spike. "For some people, a sharp rise in blood glucose after eating carbohydrates alone could be followed by a drop in blood glucose, which may cause them to feel hungry," explains says Judith Wylie-Rosett, Ed.D., R.D., professor of health promotion and nutrition research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. (That's especially true if you have type 1 diabetes.) That's the exact opposite of what you want to happen after you've eaten a meal. Next time you're grabbing some fruit (carb), pair it with a hard-boiled egg (protein). Or try beans (carb) with chicken (protein) and/or a slice of avocado (fat).

5. Go for Whole Fruit over Juice

A glass of orange juice is not the same as eating a whole orange. "People generally drink more juice and therefore consume more calories and sugar than they would by just eating fruit," says Wylie-Rosett. Plus, you get more fiber from the whole fruit. For instance, there's about 4 grams in a large orange, compared to less than 1 gram in 8 ounces of juice. A small amount of juice is OK, but it shouldn't be your go-to beverage, she says. When you do drink it, make sure you're serving it up in an actual juice glass (which might hold 4 ounces, for example) rather than a large cup.

6. Walk After Meals

Dinner is done, but the dishes can wait: it's time to go for a stroll. Adults with diabetes who walked for 10 minutes after each meal had blood glucose levels that were, on average, 12 percent lower compared to those who walked in one 30-minute block per day, showed 2016 research in the journal Diabetologia. The walk-it-off strategy is especially helpful after eating carb-heavy meals, particularly dinner, the researchers found. Staying active improves insulin sensitivity and helps your cells remove glucose from your bloodstream. Get those walking shoes ready-it's only 10 minutes. If the weather isn't cooperating, walk in place in front of the TV or stay active indoors by streaming a workout class or popping in an exercise DVD.

7. Pick Veggies Wisely

You know vegetables are good for you—but they're not all equal when it comes to carbs. A half-cup of starchy veggies, like peas, corn or squash, equals 15 grams of carbohydrate, Wylie-Rosett points out. But nonstarchy veggies contain about half that, so you can eat much more of them while making less of an impact on blood sugar. Everything in moderation is fine, but make your most-of-the-time choices the nonstarchy variety, like lettuce, cauliflower, spinach, kale and Brussels sprouts.

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8. Get Enough Vitamin D

Here's another reason to ask your doctor to check your vitamin D levels: it could help you lessen your risk of diabetes. In a 2013 study, D-deficient people with prediabetes who supplemented with the vitamin benefitted from an improvement in blood glucose levels. More research is needed, but scientists think the sunshine vitamin might impact insulin resistance. Your doctor can tell you if you need a supplement or not; in the meantime, make sure you fill your diet with D-rich foods like sardines, wild or UV-exposed mushrooms and fortified milk and nondairy milk.

Related: 6 Foods with More Vitamin D Than an Egg

9. Drink More Water

Yes, sipping water can affect your blood sugar. But the important point is avoiding dehydration, says Wylie-Rosett. When you're dehydrated, sugars in your blood are more concentrated, and thus, your blood glucose levels are higher. But you don't need to glug a ton. You should generally drink water when you're thirsty—whether you have blood sugar problems or not, says Wylie-Rosett. For more on that, check out how much water you should drink a day, by the numbers.

Pizza Pistachios

12 Healthy Ways to Lower Your Blood Sugar (2)

Credit: Jennifer Causey

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10. Snack on Nuts

They're one super-portable food that you can pop in your mouth without worrying that they're doing something funky to your blood sugar levels. One 2010 study notes that when eaten alone or with meals, nuts can help keep blood sugar levels steady because they're packed with healthy fats and not many carbs. For instance, an ounce of almonds contains 164 calories and only 6 grams of carbs. Aim for five one-ounce servings a week of nuts like pistachios, almonds and cashews.

Pictured Recipe: Pizza Pistachios

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11. Eat More Mindfully

Ditch eating lunch in front of your computer or having dinner while watching TV at night and make it a goal to eat more mindfully. This practice means that you pay attention to hunger and fullness cues, stay present when you're eating, and assess the emotional component of food. Adults with diabetes who practiced this strategy for three months lost weight and improved their blood sugar control just as much as those on a traditional diabetes educational program, per research in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Bonus: Mindful eating can also help you deal with food cravings and prevent binge eating, two things that can spur weight gain.

12. Think Long Term for Your Health

"There isn't a magic diet for people with diabetes," says Wylie-Rosett. "It's about how your diet relates to metabolic factors like blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol," she says. To suss out exactly what you need, many insurance plans cover medical nutrition therapy, which pairs you up with a registered dietitian to create the best plan for your unique needs. And remember, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a nutritious diet and staying active all go a long way in keeping your blood sugar under control.

FAQs

What is good naturally to lower blood sugar? ›

Eating fiber decreases blood sugar and insulin concentrations. The recommended amount of fiber is around 30 grams per day. Most Americans get around 6-8 grams, which is not nearly enough. While you can take fiber supplements like Metamucil (psylium husk), the best way to reach your goal is to eat your veggies!

Can drinking water lower blood sugar? ›

Did you know it's Sugar Free February and that drinking water can help to lower blood sugar levels by diluting the amount of glucose (sugar) in your blood stream. By drinking water lots of water you can reduce your blood sugar as it indirectly will reduce insulin resistance and help reduce hunger.

Does lemon water reduce blood sugar? ›

Lemon juice significantly lowered the mean blood glucose concentration peak by 30% (p < 0.01) and delayed it more than 35 min (78 vs. 41 min with water, p < 0.0001).

How do you flush sugar out of your system fast? ›

Studies show that drinking plenty of water helps glucose flush out of the blood. The average person should aim for eight glasses per day. Drinking plenty of water while you are indulging your sweet tooth — and throughout the day after — will help your body get back to normal.

Does peanut butter lower blood sugar? ›

Research has shown that peanuts can help control blood sugar in both healthy individuals and those with type 2 diabetes. Peanuts and peanut butter have even been shown to help lessen the spike in blood sugar when paired with high-carbohydrate or high-GL foods.

What foods can reverse diabetes? ›

Diet rich in non-starchy and low carb vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, artichoke and beets has been proven to reverse type 2 diabetes. They can give the hunger pangs go away without loading your body with excess carbohydrates.

What food washes out sugar from blood? ›

Eggs, peanut butter, beans, legumes, protein smoothies, fatty fish, and nuts are all high in protein. An increase in healthy fat intake also helps in sugar detox.

Does peeing lower blood sugar? ›

When the kidneys aren't up to the job, much of that glucose is eliminated from the body through your urine. This process also flushes out valuable hydrating fluids from your body, often leaving people with diabetes peeing frequently as well as dehydrated.

What time of day is blood sugar highest? ›

It's called the dawn phenomenon or the dawn effect. It usually happens between 2 and 8 a.m.

What causes blood sugar to rise without eating? ›

Coffee—even without sweetener. Some people's blood sugar is extra-sensitive to caffeine. Losing sleep—even just one night of too little sleep can make your body use insulin less well. Skipping breakfast—going without that morning meal can increase blood sugar after both lunch and dinner.

What fruit keeps your blood sugar below 100? ›

Citrus fruits are considered low glycemic fruits because they don't affect blood sugar as much as other types of fruits like watermelon and pineapple ( 50 ).

Which vegetables should be avoided in diabetes? ›

People living with diabetes should look to avoid vegetables with a high GI rating, as the body absorbs blood sugar from those foods much quicker compared with low-GI foods. This includes artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, celery, cauliflower, eggplant/aubergine, green beans, lettuce, peppers, snow peas and spinach.”

Is cucumbers good for diabetes? ›

Early trials suggest that cucumber is one of the most effective plants for not only reducing blood sugar levels but also lowering the risk of hypoglycemia during a blood sugar drop. For people with diabetes, cucumber may be a helpful addition to their diet to moderate blood sugar levels more effectively.

What's the best fruit for diabetics? ›

The Best Fruits for People With Diabetes
  • berries — Both citrus and berries are recommended as superfoods by the American Diabetes Association.
  • cherries.
  • plums.
  • grapefruit.
  • peaches.
  • apples — High fiber fruits like apples and pears help to slow a spike in blood sugar, Rose says.
  • pears.
  • kiwi.
3 Nov 2021

How long does it take cinnamon to lower blood sugar? ›

The addition of 1, 3, or 6 g of cinnamon to the diet led to significant decreases in serum glucose levels after 40 days.

How do I detox from sugar in 3 days? ›

So for the first three days on a sugar detox, Alpert recommends no added sugars – but also no fruits, no starchy vegetables (such as corn, peas, sweet potatoes and butternut squash), no dairy, no grains and no alcohol. “You're basically eating protein, vegetables and healthy fats.”

How long does it take for sugar to leave your body? ›

Most people have at least some sugar in their system unless they completely fast for an extended period. Every time you eat, you're introducing more sugar into your body. If you were to eat low-calorie foods and remain fasted, sugar would take at least three hours for the bulk of that sugar to leave your system.

What's the worst food for diabetics? ›

Worst Choices
  • Fried meats.
  • Higher-fat cuts of meat, such as ribs.
  • Pork bacon.
  • Regular cheeses.
  • Poultry with skin.
  • Deep-fried fish.
  • Deep-fried tofu.
  • Beans prepared with lard.
6 Dec 2020

What fruits to avoid if you are diabetic? ›

Fruit is also an important source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. However, fruit can also be high in sugar. People with diabetes must keep a watchful eye on their sugar intake to avoid blood sugar spikes.
...
These include:
  • apples.
  • apricots.
  • avocados.
  • bananas.
  • blackberries.
  • blueberries.
  • cantaloupes.
  • cherries.
29 Mar 2021

Are tomatoes good for diabetes? ›

Tomatoes are non-starchy and also have a low glycaemic index. The glycemic index is a relative ranking of carbohydrate in foods. About 140 grams of tomato has a GI of less than 15, which makes it a low GI food and an excellent food for diabetics. Any food that has a GI score lower than 55 is good for diabetics.

What type of bread can diabetics eat? ›

The American Diabetes Association recommends choosing whole grain bread or 100 percent whole wheat bread instead of white bread. White bread is made from highly processed white flour and added sugar.

Is banana good for diabetics? ›

A person with diabetes should include a variety of fresh, whole foods in their diet, such as nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables. Bananas are a safe and nutritious fruit for people with diabetes to eat in moderation as part of a balanced, individualized eating plan.

Is fasting good for diabetes? ›

The American Diabetes Association doesn't recommend fasting as a technique for diabetes management. The association says lifestyle changes, including medical nutrition therapy and more physical activity, as the cornerstones for weight loss and good diabetes control.

How can I control my diabetes without medication? ›

Manage Diabetes without Medication
  1. Eat a healthy diet. Choose to eat more whole fruits and vegetables, more whole grains and lean proteins. ...
  2. Lose weight. ...
  3. Exercise. ...
  4. Make a commitment to exercising regularly by finding a partner. ...
  5. Test your blood sugar. ...
  6. Get enough quality sleep. ...
  7. Getting regular checkups.
22 Nov 2017

Is oatmeal good for diabetics? ›

Oatmeal from whole grain oats may be a helpful addition to the diet of someone with diabetes. Oatmeal has a low glycemic index (GI) score, and the soluble fiber and beneficial compounds in oats may help people control markers of diabetes.

How do I burn all the sugar I eat? ›

Ate Too Much Sugar? 9 Tricks to Help Reverse the Binge
  1. Step 1: Realize what's going on. ...
  2. Step 2: Have a spoonful of peanut butter. ...
  3. Step 3: Take the stairs. ...
  4. Step 4: Drink tea with lemon. ...
  5. Step 5: Plan tomorrow's breakfast. ...
  6. Step 6: Put the kibosh on condiments. ...
  7. Step 7: Have a smoothie. ...
  8. Step 8: Banish temptation.
6 Oct 2020

Can cinnamon lower blood sugar? ›

Cinnamon Lowers Blood Sugar Levels and Has a Powerful Anti-Diabetic Effect. Cinnamon is well known for its blood-sugar-lowering properties. Apart from the beneficial effects on insulin resistance, cinnamon can lower blood sugar by several other mechanisms.

What color is diabetic pee? ›

A water deprivation test involves not drinking any liquid for several hours to see how your body responds. If you have diabetes insipidus, you'll continue to pee large amounts of watery (dilute), light-colored urine when normally you'd only pee a small amount of concentrated, dark yellow urine.

How much water should you drink to lower blood sugar? ›

High blood sugar levels can cause dehydration. Drinking enough water can help your body eliminate excess glucose through urine. The Institute of Medicine recommends adult men drink about 13 cups (3.08 liters) of day and women drink about 9 cups (2.13 liters).

How many times a diabetic person urinate in a day? ›

Frequent urination

Most people urinate four to seven times in a day. If you are making more trips to the bathroom, especially waking multiple times at night to go, it may be a sign that your kidneys are working overtime to flush out excess sugar in your blood.

Why is my blood sugar high in the morning when I haven't eaten anything? ›

The dawn phenomenon

In the early hours of the morning, hormones, including cortisol and growth hormone, signal the liver to boost the production of glucose, which provides energy that helps you wake up. This triggers beta cells in the pancreas to release insulin in order to keep blood glucose levels in check.

Does coffee raise blood sugar? ›

For most young, healthy adults, caffeine doesn't appear to noticeably affect blood sugar (glucose) levels, and having up to 400 milligrams a day appears to be safe.

What are the symptoms of high blood sugar in the morning? ›

Some of these include non specific tiredness, drowsiness, blurred vision, sexual difficulties, poor healing of minor wounds, and fungal infections and boils. But first thing in the morning, it the dry mouth and throat that should alert one to diabetes.

Can Apple cider vinegar lower blood sugar immediately? ›

HbA1c levels reflect a person's blood glucose levels over many weeks or months. On a short-term basis, groups taking apple cider vinegar saw significant improvement in blood glucose levels 30 minutes after consuming the vinegar.

How long does it take for blood sugar to go down? ›

By tracking your blood sugar levels within 60 to 90 minutes of a meal, you can see how your body responds to certain foods and make informed decisions about what foods are the best at stabilizing your blood sugar. After about two hours, your blood sugar should drop back down to its pre-meal level.

How long does it take cinnamon to lower blood sugar? ›

The addition of 1, 3, or 6 g of cinnamon to the diet led to significant decreases in serum glucose levels after 40 days.

How high does your sugar have to be to go into a diabetic coma? ›

A diabetic coma could happen when your blood sugar gets too high -- 600 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or more -- causing you to become very dehydrated. It usually affects people with type 2 diabetes that isn't well-controlled.

Is oatmeal good for diabetics? ›

Oatmeal from whole grain oats may be a helpful addition to the diet of someone with diabetes. Oatmeal has a low glycemic index (GI) score, and the soluble fiber and beneficial compounds in oats may help people control markers of diabetes.

What fruit keeps blood sugar below 100? ›

Although many citrus fruits are sweet, research shows that they may help reduce blood sugar levels. Citrus fruits are considered low glycemic fruits because they don't affect blood sugar as much as other types of fruits like watermelon and pineapple ( 50 ).

How much apple cider vinegar should a diabetic take a day? ›

Always dilute it with another beverage (water, seltzer, tea) or by mixing it into your food. Only consume approximately 2 tablespoons per day.

What causes blood sugar to rise without eating? ›

Coffee—even without sweetener. Some people's blood sugar is extra-sensitive to caffeine. Losing sleep—even just one night of too little sleep can make your body use insulin less well. Skipping breakfast—going without that morning meal can increase blood sugar after both lunch and dinner.

What spikes blood sugar? ›

Carbohydrates (carbs) are what cause blood sugar to rise. When you eat carbs, they are broken down into simple sugars. Those sugars then enter the bloodstream. As your blood sugar levels rise, your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin, which prompts your cells to absorb sugar from the blood.

Why is my blood sugar high when I have not eaten? ›

Liver and Blood Sugars

To make sure that your brain doesn't lack sugar, your liver will start releasing sugar, either from stored glycogen or by producing new sugar from molecules of protein. As a result, you can see a rise in your blood sugar levels even if you haven't had anything to eat.

Should you take cinnamon in the morning or at night? ›

Take your Cinnamon consistently each morning for these life-changing benefits: ☀️Cramps: Cinnamon can significantly reduce the severity, intensity and duration of period cramps compared with a placebo (Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research, 2015).

Which type of cinnamon is best for diabetes? ›

Potential for diabetes treatment

In one study, Ceylon cinnamon brought insulin levels in diabetic rats to close to normal levels. Other studies support the idea that Ceylon cinnamon is useful for diabetes treatment. Ceylon cinnamon stimulates insulin-like activity. It reduces insulin resistance in the body.

Does turmeric lower blood sugar? ›

Management of Blood Sugar Levels

Turmeric may help manage high glucose levels in your blood. The spice was shown to increase insulin sensitivity, which leads to lower blood sugar levels. Clinical trials performed on animals reported these results suggesting that turmeric behaves as an anti-hyperglycemic agent.

What are 5 signs of a diabetic emergency? ›

What are the signs and symptoms of a diabetic emergency?
  • hunger.
  • clammy skin.
  • profuse sweating.
  • drowsiness or confusion.
  • weakness or feeling faint.
  • sudden loss of responsiveness.

What is the highest blood sugar ever recorded? ›

WESTMINSTER, Ohio (AP) - A northwest Ohio man has been recognized by the Guinness Book of Records for a rather dubious world record. Michael Stuber's blood sugar reached a whopping 2,460 -- and he survived. A reading of 126 or below is considered normal. At 500, coma becomes a risk.

What does it feel like when your blood sugar is too high? ›

Hyperglycemia (high blood glucose) means there is too much sugar in the blood because the body lacks enough insulin. Associated with diabetes, hyperglycemia can cause vomiting, excessive hunger and thirst, rapid heartbeat, vision problems and other symptoms. Untreated hyperglycemia can lead to serious health problems.

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