How to Maintain Normal Blood Sugar
Most of the habits that help us maintain healthy, normal blood sugar levels are fairly obvious and simple to carry out. However, some might also surprise you, especially if you think it will be tough to start managing your blood sugar better.
Small changes in your diet, exercise routine and sleep schedule can wind up making a big difference when it comes to blood sugar management. Let’s look at some of the best ways to help get you on the right track to reaching and maintaining normal blood sugar levels for life.
1. Eat a Low-Processed, Anti-Inflammatory Diet
A healthy diet is key to blood sugar management and preventing or treating diabetes. It’s not that you must avoid consuming any carbohydrates or sugar when trying to maintain normal blood sugar — just that you need to balance them out with protein/fats, and focus on getting them from real, whole foods to help create normal blood sugar levels.
Eating a source of protein, fiber and healthy fat with all of your meals can help stabilize blood sugar, especially when you consume carbs/sugar.These slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, help manage your appetite, and are also important for your metabolism and digestion.
2. Switch Up Your Carbs & Sweeteners
While all types of added sugars are capable of raising blood sugar levels, some sources of sugar/carbs affect blood glucose levels more so than others. When you use appropriate amounts sparingly, natural/unrefined, ideally organic sugar sources (such as those from fruit or raw honey) are less likely to contribute to poor blood sugar management than refined sugars (such as white cane sugar or refined products made with white/bleached wheat flour).
To help sustain normal blood sugar, check ingredient labels carefully, since sugar can be listed under dozens of different names.
3. Get Regular Exercise
Exercise manages blood sugar in more than one way. Short-term exercise helps cells in your muscles to take up more glucose in order to use it for energy and tissue repair, therefore lowering blood sugar in the process. Long-term exercise also makes cells more responsive to insulin and helps prevent resistance. Doing about 30–60 minutes of exercise most days of the week (such as running, cycling, swimming and lifting weights) is also a simple, beneficial way to lower inflammation, manage stress, improve immunity and balance hormones. Insulin sensitivity is increased, so your cells are better able to use any available insulin to take up glucose during and after activity.
4. Manage Stress
Excessive stress can actually cause blood sugar levels to rise due to an increased release of the “stress hormone” cortisol. Stress kicks off a vicious hormonal cycle for many people. It not only contributes to high blood sugar by raising cortisol, but also tends to increase cravings for “comfort foods”.Dealing with high amounts of stress makes it less likely that people will take good care of themselves and keep up with healthy habits that contribute to normal blood sugar.
5. Get Enough Rest
Being well-rested is crucial for maintaining a healthy outlook on life, sticking with healthy habits and even managing hormone levels.
Sleep and metabolic processes are linked in several key ways, and research shows our natural circadian rhythms can trigger high blood glucose or raise the risk for diabetes when they’re disturbed. Sleeping too little, getting poor quality sleep or sleeping at the wrong times can impair insulin secretion even if you don’t change your diet. Aim to get between seven to nine hours of sleep per night, ideally by sticking with a normal sleep/wake schedule in order to balance hormones, curb stress responses, and have enough energy to exercise and keep up with your day.
Your diet is the single most influential factor when it comes to your blood sugar levels. The foods that we eat fall into one of three categories: carbohydrates (sugars and starches), proteins and fats. Fats don’t affect blood sugar, while carbohydrates — and to a small extend proteins — do. Carbohydrates in our diets along with a portion of the protein we eat are turned into glucose, which is what gives cells most of their energy and helps fuel the majority of the body’s many functions.