High blood sugar is generally caused by diabetes, which must be carefully controlled and treated under the supervision of a doctor. However, there are several ways that can be done to lower blood sugar to healthy levels. Moderate exercise and appropriate dietary changes can lower blood sugar, but this should be done under the guidance of a medical professional or nutritionist who knows your medical history.
Part 1 of 3: Lowering Blood Sugar with Diet
Step 1. Reduce your intake of sweets, animal products, and refined carbohydrates
Your doctor can recommend a diet that fits your needs, because no one diet is perfect for people with high blood sugar or diabetes. However, if you have high blood sugar, the usual way is to reduce your intake of meat, dairy products, white bread, white rice, potatoes, and sweet foods.
Step 2. Eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
These and other foods that are high in fiber and low in fat are recommended for people with high blood sugar levels. Whole grains may not be suitable for everyone with high blood sugar, so talk to your doctor before including them as a staple in your diet.
- Fresh apples, dried apricots, juice or packaged peach juice are all good choices. Avoid frozen or canned fruit that contains added sugar.
- It is recommended to consume at least 3 cups (700 mL) of raw vegetables daily or 1.5 cups (350mL) of cooked vegetables. Try artichokes, cucumbers, or a vegetable salad. Fresh fruit is better than frozen or dried, because it sometimes has added sodium.
- Oatmeal and barley are good types of wheat for people who have high blood sugar levels.
Step 3. Find more food information
If you're not sure whether a certain food is harmful, ask your doctor or look up the glycemic index, which gives a rough idea of the effect that food has on blood sugar (but not overall health). "High glycemic" foods with a glycemic index of 70 and above should be avoided if you have high blood sugar. Replace with "low glycemic" foods (GI value 55 and below), as recommended above. Foods with a glycemic index between 55 and 70 are "medium" and can be consumed in small to moderate amounts depending on need.
Step 4. Stop consuming alcohol and tobacco
When you use these substances every day or consume them in large amounts, your body's ability to produce insulin, which breaks down sugar in the bloodstream, will be impaired. If you are trying to quit smoking, keep in mind that using a substitute product that also contains nicotine will have the same effect. Chewing gum or nicotine patches may work as a substitute for cigarettes, but should not be used as a long-term solution if you have problems with blood sugar.
Step 5. Don't be quick to believe food ads
Newspapers often make claims about managing blood sugar or other health problems with a regular diet, but these claims are not always backed up by medical research. Research on coffee has shown conflicting results, so its overall effect on blood sugar remains unclear. One study found possible benefits of cinnamon for blood sugar, but only tested it on a small group of the same people. All were over 40 years of age, with type 2 diabetes, who were not on insulin therapy or on medication for any disease other than diabetes. Even if one claim seems reasonable to you, be aware that a particular food ingredient cannot replace exercise, dietary changes, or medical treatment.
Part 2 of 3: Lowering Blood Sugar with Exercise
Step 1. Consult an exercise plan with your doctor
Although the following steps generally help people with blood sugar and related health problems, they are not as effective as recommendations tailored to your specific health characteristics and concerns.
Visit your doctor or recommended nutritionist regularly to check your progress and find out if there are any other health problems that arise from high blood sugar
Step 2. If you have diabetes, check your blood sugar levels before and during exercise
Exercise can lower blood sugar in the long term, but when done only in the short term, exercise can increase blood sugar because it encourages your body to produce glucose (sugar) as muscle fuel. If you have diabetes or other health problems that require self-testing your blood sugar, it's important to check your blood sugar before you start exercising and every 30 minutes during exercise.
Your doctor or pharmacy can provide you with a blood glucose meter or blood sugar test tape
Step 3. Decide on the type of exercise based on the results of the blood sugar test
If you are diabetic, it is very important to adjust your exercise routine to the results of the blood sugar test, as mentioned earlier. Decide whether exercise is safe to do by following these instructions, or following specific directions from your doctor:
- If your blood sugar is less than 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L), increase it before exercising. Light snacks that contain sufficient carbohydrates, such as fruit or pastries. If you don't eat carbohydrates before exercising, you run the risk of experiencing tremors and restlessness, unconsciousness, or even a coma.
- If the test result is between 100 and 250 mg/dL (5.6–13.9 mmol/L), nothing should be done unless your doctor tells you otherwise. Continue exercising.
Step 4. Perform a ketone test if your blood sugar is above 250 mg/dL (13.9 mmol/L)
If you have diabetes, especially type 1 diabetes, you should not exercise when your blood sugar is high without having a ketone test done first. Ketones are substances that can cause serious problems if they develop, and exercise can increase their levels. Test your urine for ketones using a ketosis test tape from the pharmacy, following the instructions carefully. Do not exercise if you have ketones in your urine, and test regularly for moderate or high ketone levels. Seek immediate medical attention if you have very high ketone levels or if they do not decrease after 30-60 minutes.
If your blood sugar is higher than 300 mg/dL (16.7 mmol/L), don't exercise. Wait 30-60 minutes without eating, and test again to check if your blood sugar has dropped to a safe level for exercise. Tell your doctor or nurse if your high blood sugar level rises repeatedly or within a few hours at a time
Step 5. Do light exercise repeatedly
Exercise converts glucose into energy, makes the body's cells more sensitive to insulin, and lowers excess fat, which is associated with high blood sugar. The more active you are, the less likely you are to develop high blood sugar problems.
- Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day, 5 days a week. In total you should exercise 150 minutes or more each week.
- Find a sport you enjoy; that way you will tend to do it for a long time. Common choices are brisk walking, swimming, or cycling.
Step 6. Stop exercising if you experience pain or blisters
If you have diabetes or are at risk for diabetes, be on the lookout for signs of health problems caused by exercise. If you experience weakness, chest pain, sudden shortness of breath, or feel pain and blisters in your legs, stop and call your doctor.
Part 3 of 3: Other Ways to Keep Blood Sugar at Healthy Levels
Step 1. Monitor blood sugar levels
Ask your doctor to determine how often you should do this. Based on your treatment plan, your doctor will suggest checking your blood sugar daily or several times a week.
If you don't have access to medical treatment, you can get a blood sugar measuring device or tape at the pharmacy
Step 2. Be aware of how, when, and why your blood sugar levels fluctuate
Even if you follow a strict diet and have reduced your sugar intake, your blood sugar can still change unexpectedly, especially if you have diabetes.
- Blood sugar tends to rise within an hour or two after eating.
- Blood sugar decreases in the long term with exercise, which can move glucose from the blood into the body's cells.
- Menstruation in women causes fluctuations in hormones and blood sugar levels.
- Almost all medications have an effect on blood sugar levels. Check with your doctor before starting any new medication.
Step 3. Manage stress
Chronic stress can release hormones that block insulin action. As much as possible reduce the stressful aspects of your life, for example by avoiding arguments or reducing your workload. Cope with stress with relaxation exercises such as meditation or yoga.
Step 4. Check with your doctor to determine if you need treatment
Some people can control their blood sugar with diet and exercise alone, while others need prescription diabetes medications or insulin therapy.
- Many doctors advise diabetic patients to use medication, diet and exercise to control blood sugar.
- Insulin injections are also done to control blood glucose levels throughout the day. These injections can be done at home.
- Age, family history, and race affect your chances of developing diabetes. Older people, blacks, Hispanics, American Indians, and Asian Americans are at higher risk of developing diabetes than other populations, so it is important to pay close attention to their blood sugar levels.
- Pregnant women with diabetes should make changes to their diabetes care regimen with their doctor during pregnancy.
- If you have diabetes, let the medical staff and sports coach know about your problem before receiving treatment or exercise. It is recommended to wear a medical bracelet that explains you are diabetic.
- Don't go on a low-carb diet or eat less without consulting your doctor or nutritionist. Some diet plans that seem effective may raise blood sugar or cause other problems.