7 Hacks for Controlling Blood Sugar Naturally
If you’re one of the tens of millions of Americans currently living with Type 2 diabetes, hopefully you’ve sat down with your physician and care team to create a solid blood sugar management program that includes regular monitoring using a glucose meter and test strips or a continuous glucose monitoring device, as well as any necessary insulin treatments or other medication required to manage your Type 2 Diabetes.
If you’re living with diabetes, there’s nothing more important than sticking to your doctor-prescribed testing and treatment program. That being said, one of the most important aspects of living with Type 2 diabetes is to remember that there are things you can do, naturally, to help control blood sugar. In this post, we’ll examine some of these “diabetes hacks”, which in large measure are strategic lifestyle changes you can make to improve blood sugar management.
Let’s get started. Here are our 7 diabetes management hacks.
Physical Activity Plan
It’s no secret to most with Type 2 diabetes that exercise is a great way to bring down blood sugar. However, if you really want to get the best results from a fitness routine it’s good to have a solid plan in place. The first thing to do is sit down with your physician and care team to determine your fitness level so you can safely begin an activity program.
If you’ve been inactive for quite some time, you’re going to want to start slowly. A leisurely walk or bike ride around the neighborhood are good ways to kick things off. It’s important to remember that you don’t want to go overboard when beginning a fitness program. You want to ease into it safely to avoid injury.
According to the American Diabetes Association, you should aim for about 150 minutes of physical activity each week. As you progress, here are some other things to consider.
Blood sugar tends to peak about 90 minutes after the start of a meal. So, to make room for this spike, try finishing up your exercise routine about 30 minutes before starting a meal. You’ll bring your blood sugar down before you eat, thereby, keeping it from spiking soon after eating. You might also do some moderate exercise after a meal – a nice, brisk walk, for example.
Work towards high-intensity, shorter fitness intervals
It’s important to get the green light from your doctor before beginning any high-intensity workout. Once you’re ready, however, this is a technique you might want to consider. Studies have shown that shorter, higher intensity programs might have better metabolic benefits for people with diabetes than longer, less-intense routines. This is because more vigorous workouts use more muscle fiber, which, in turns, burns up more glucose. Again, the key is taking things gradually. If you walk, try upping the pace for a few minutes during your stroll, and then bringing it back down. It’s also important to note that not every exercise day has to be high intensity. This is something you can work into any normal fitness routine, say a few times a week, to see how it works for you.
Healthy Diet Plan
Every food you eat has an impact on your blood sugar. That’s why a diabetes-smart diet plan is key to seeing the numbers you want each time you prick that finger and test your blood sugar. You’re likely familiar with the general rules, such as eating plenty of veggies, lean proteins, and whole grains, and limiting your carbohydrate intake. Some other eating strategies worth noting include:
- Try to follow a regular eating schedule, so your body becomes accustomed to it.
- When possible, try to include about the same amount of carbs from meal to meal. This isn’t a strict rule but can make it easier to control your blood sugar.
- Avoid late-night snacks. They can do a number on blood sugar and even lead to sudden drops. When this happens, the body recognizes a problem and releases adrenaline which can keep you awake at night. Speaking of which – our next hack is sleep.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is one aspect of diabetes management that really doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Proper sleep is crucial to health in general. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has called poor sleep a public health crisis. Adults should get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night and the reality is few of us do this regularly.
For those with diabetes, not getting enough sleep has a direct impact on insulin sensitivity, decreasing it and causing blood sugar to elevate. Even one night of improper sleep can impact blood sugar levels. Extended nights of poor sleep can lead to dramatic drops in insulin sensitivity. What’s worse is you can’t make up for lost time. Sleeping in on the weekends will not make up for the insulin sensitivity reduction caused by a week of poor sleep.
So how do you get proper sleep? First, create a routine. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Avoid phones and devices before sleep as this stimulation right before bedtime make it harder to fall asleep. Also, keep your room cool and dark, both of which make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Stress does a double whammy on blood sugar. First, it generally causes blood sugar to rise. Second, when you’re stressed or feeling anxious, you are more likely to veer from your diabetes management plan – missing blood sugar tests and failing to administer insulin and other medications on schedule. You also might forget to exercise and trend toward binge eating. Ways to better manage stress include meditation, yoga, playing music, art, and any hobby or pastime you find particularly soothing or relaxing. Most of us live busy lives and stress is going to be a part of it. If you can find ways to better manage yours, it just might lead to greater blood sugar control.
Diabetes increases your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and many other serious heath conditions. If you’re a smoker, the chances of experiencing these problems goes way up. If that’s not enough, there’s the fact that smoking causes cancer, makes it harder to exercise, and is generally one big health hazard. Still, quitting is hard. Ask your doctor about smoking cessation products and other ways to help you break the habit.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that women have no more than one drink a day, and men have no more than two drinks each day. The reason why is that booze can cause blood sugar to fluctuate with both highs and lows. Additionally, many cocktail mixes are loaded with sugars and carbs, making it even harder to control blood sugar. Here’s the thing - you don’t need to swear off alcohol. You just have to be smart. Having an occasional drink or two won’t throw your blood sugar management out of whack. Besides, life is meant to be enjoyed and raising a glass now and then with family and friends is part of it. Just don’t go overboard and you’ll be fine.
See Your Doctors. Know Your Numbers.
Don’t miss or put off those regular checkups. You should see your diabetes physician at least twice a year, have your eyes checked every year, and make an appointment anytime you sense a problem. Also, know your numbers – blood pressure, cholesterol, and A1C (your average blood sugar over 3 months). Regularly monitoring your personal health situation is as important as testing your blood sugar every day. It will help you better manage your diabetes and avoid serious diabetes-related complications, such cardiovascular disease, neuropathy, kidney disease and more.
We hope you found this post interesting and informative. At Diabetic Warehouse, we committed to keeping you up to date with the latest news and insights on living with diabetes. We’re also proud to help you stick to your doctor-prescribed diabetes treatment plan with a huge selection of diabetic supplies and equipment at prices up to 65% less than you’ll find at pharmacies and other suppliers.
Diabetic Warehouse is a trusted supplier of diabetes care products and accessories. For more information and to explore a complete range of products, including glucose meters and test strips, insulin syringes, pen needles, continuous glucose monitoring systems, and more, visit www.diabeticwarehouse.org.