If you have high blood sugar but are wary of taking medications, you can do a few things to lower your blood sugar naturally. Keep in mind, you may still have to take meds if your body doesn’t make enough insulin or is resistant. Exercising, eating a healthy diet and losing weight if you’re overweight can help you better control your blood sugar.
According to Medline Plus, exercise can lower your blood sugar without medications. Check your blood sugar before you start exercising and during your workout if it lasts longer than 45 minutes to prevent hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. Keep a snack, such as hard candy, fruit juice or glucose tablets close by in case you need to bring your blood sugar back up quickly. Start slow if you’re out of shape and work up to 30 to 45 minutes at least 5 days a week – the recommended amount for adults. Always check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.
Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet will help keep your blood sugar under control. Focusing your meals on healthy foods such as veggies, whole grains, fruits, lean meats, non-fat dairy, legumes and fish will help you maintain healthy blood sugar levels. High-fiber foods slow down how quickly sugar enters your blood stream, so eat plenty of fiber at each meal. Fresh fruits, raw veggies, legumes and whole grains are rich sources of fiber. You can sprinkle wheat germ or flax seeds onto yogurt, soups or cottage cheese to boost the fiber content. Regular meal and snack times that include about the same amount of carbs will also help control your blood sugar. A registered dietitian can set up a meal plan that’s right for you.
If you’re overweight, losing even a little bit of weight can significantly impact your blood sugar. A major clinical research study published in the Feb. 7, 2002 issue of the “New England Journal of Medicine” found that people who lost just 7 percent of their body weight by following a low-calorie, low-fat diet and exercising at moderate intensity, such as brisk walking, for at least 150 minutes weekly reduced their risk of developing diabetes by 58 percent. The people in the study who made these healthy lifestyle changes reduced their risk even more than people who took the diabetes medication, metformin. Talk to your health care provider or a registered dietitian about healthy weight loss options.
Even with exercise, healthy eating and weight loss, you may still need medication to control your blood sugar. However, you can reduce the amount that you need by living healthy. Checking your blood sugar often and talking with your health care provider regularly gives you the best chance of reducing or eliminating your need for meds. If you are taking diabetes meds, talk to your doctor before adjusting the amount; it may result in high or low blood sugar, both of which can be dangerous.
- Medline Plus: Diabetes and Exercise
- Centers for Disease Control: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- New England Journal of Medicine: Reduction in the Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes with Lifestyle Intervention or Metformin
- American Diabetes Association: Diabetes Meal Plans and a Healthy Diet
- Linus Pauling Institute: Fiber
Kristin Mortensen began writing newspaper articles in 1992 for The Sierra Vista Herald. She has also been a registered dietitian since 1991, and has worked for hospitals, clinics and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) programs. Mortensen has a bachelor of science in dietetics from Brigham Young University.