An excerpt from the book, “Your Blood Never Lies: How to Read a Blood Test for a Longer, Healthier Life” by James B. LaValle, RPh, CCN, ND. Read additional excerpts or buy the whole book.
Glucose is a type of sugar that acts as the body’s chief source of energy. During digestion, foods rich in carbohydrates (starches and sugars) are broken down into three simple sugars—fructose, galactose, and glucose. Upon entering the bloodstream, glucose is transported to each of your cells. In response to the rise in glucose in the body, the pancreas releases insulin, a hormone that attaches to cell membranes to allow glucose to be taken out of the blood and carried to the cells, where it is used for energy production.
However, excessive carbohydrate and sugar consumption can disrupt normal glucose metabolism, triggering blood sugar imbalances. Excessive insulin release and insulin resistance can cause poor blood sugar control, leading to chronic high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia. Blood glucose levels may also “crash,” or drop suddenly, resulting in low concentrations of blood glucose in a condition known as hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia occurs because too much insulin is released, which may be due to defective insulin receptors or a deficiency of one or more of the trace minerals needed for blood glucose regulation—B vitamins, chromium, magnesium, vanadium, and zinc. Low vitamin D can also be a cause, since the vitamin plays an important role in insulin production and sensitivity. A disproportionate amount of insulin in the blood causes glucose to be carried out of the bloodstream and into the cells, resulting in a drop in blood sugar. This can trigger symptoms such as anxiousness, agitation, dizziness, sweating, and weakness.
Besides nutritional deficiencies and defective insulin receptors, blood sugar imbalance may also be related to environmental toxins, low thyroid hormones, low sex hormones, and chronic stress. Both high blood glucose and low blood glucose are associated with diabetes, heart disease, and kidney failure, among other medical issues. Poorly controlled blood sugar is also directly linked to Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and autoimmune disorders. If a routine lab test indicates that your blood glucose level is abnormal, your doctor will most likely order a fasting blood sugar (FBS) test, which requires you to abstain from food and beverages besides water for about eight hours beforehand. This blood test, which is typically used to check for diabetes, can provide a better picture of your glucose level, since it is unaffected by food and drink. Your doctor may also recommend a hemoglobin A1C (HbA1c) test, which reflects average blood sugar over the past two or three months. Specifically, the test measures the amount of damage done to red blood cells (RBCs), which occurs when glucose molecules become attached to hemoglobin (a protein found in RBCs), or glycated. Other options are the two hour postprandial (after eating) blood sugar test and the oral glucose tolerance test, which is typically ordered for pregnant women suspected to have gestational (pregnancy-induced) diabetes. The reference ranges for fasting blood glucose are provided in the table.
|Reference Ranges for Blood Glucose|
|Fasting Blood Glucose (mg/dL)||Category|
|Higher than 125||Diabetes|
|100 to 125||Prediabetes (impaired fasting glucose)|
|65 to 99||Norma|
|Lower than 65||Low (hypoglycemic)|
|Target Range: 70 to 84 mg/dL|
In addition to blood sugar, it’s also important to monitor your levels of insulin, especially if you have one or more risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance (IR), is a condition in which the hormone insulin does not bind to cells and activate the insulin receptors, so blood sugar is not lowered. Typically, IR precedes type 2 diabetes and lasts for at least a decade before diabetes develops. This destructive process is associated with a host of medical issues, including Alzheimer’s disease, breast cancer, hypertension, kidney disease, and obesity. Insulin resistance is a defining characteristic of metabolic syndrome, which increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
One way to test for this condition is a two-hour postprandial blood test, in which glucose and insulin levels are measured two hours after eating a meal containing 75 g of carbohydrates, such as a bagel with jelly. Results of this test indicate the efficiency with which the body processes glucose and secretes insulin. Reference ranges for insulin levels are provided in the table below.
|Reference Ranges for Insulin|
|50 or above||High alert|
|25 to 49||High, trending towards insulin resistance|
|17 to 25||Acceptable|
|Target Range: 5 to 17 mg/dL, with blood glucose less than 90 mg/dL|
As indicated by the target range above, the relationship between insulin and blood glucose levels is significant. If both blood glucose and insulin are high, you are at the peak of insulin resistance. If blood glucose is high and insulin is very low (2 mg/dL, for example), your body is likely in the process of developing diabetes, even if your fasting blood glucose level is considered normal. And if your blood glucose level is somewhere between low and normal, and your insulin level is high, you are in the process of becoming insulin resistant.
High insulin can be caused by a number of factors, including a diet high in refined sugars and carbohydrates, insufficient exercise or lack of exercise, obesity, and genetics. Fructose and galactose intolerance, which are hereditary conditions, can also be at the root of high insulin, as can antibiotics, corticosteroids, and oral contraceptives, among other medications. If left untreated, type 2 diabetes is the usual result. Low insulin levels are also problematic and can be a sign of type 1 diabetes, hypopituitarism (underactive pituitary glands), or diseases of the pancreas. An insulin level of 2 mg/dL or lower in combination with a very high blood glucose reading requires extensive testing.
While insulin is not included on the basic metabolic panel, testing for insulin resistance is crucial. This section, however, concentrates on the causes, associated medical concerns, and recommended treatments for abnormal blood glucose levels, which will allow you to take the appropriate action based on the outcome of your lab test.
WHAT CAUSES HIGH BLOOD GLUCOSE?
When the body does not produce enough insulin or cannot use insulin properly, the result is high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia. This condition is a symptom of prediabetes, which raises the risk of heart disease and related health problems, even though diabetes has not fully developed. Some causes of high blood glucose include:
- Acromegaly, a disorder characterized by the overproduction of growth hormone
- Cancer (liver and pancreatic)
- Chronic stress
- Diet high in simple carbohydrates and/or refined sugars
- Environmental toxicity
- Hormonal changes or imbalances (estrogen in women, testosterone in men)
- Insulin resistance
- Kidney disease or kidney failure
- Medications including birth control pills, corticosteroids, diuretics, epinephrine, estrogen, lithium, tricyclic antidepressants, and salicylates
- Nutritional deficiencies, especially of B vitamins, chromium, magnesium, vanadium, and/or zinc, which help regulate blood glucose
- Physical trauma, such as injury or heart attack
- Weight gain (leading to insulin resistance)
Borderline-high blood sugar should not be ignored, since insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes are likely consequences. Diabetes and insulin resistance are linked to a host of medical conditions, including cancer, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, eye disorders, heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, neuropathy (nerve damage) and stroke.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF HIGH BLOOD GLUCOSE?
A blood test is the only way to confirm the presence of high blood sugar, but there are a few symptoms that may be present and prompt you to seek medical attention. Fatigue, increased hunger, excessive thirst, frequent urination, and slow healing of wounds are symptoms of elevated blood sugar and, potentially, diabetes. It is also common for people with type 2 diabetes to gain weight, especially around the waist. Belly fat can lead to insulin resistance, which contributes to further weight gain. In general, if you have excessive belly fat, it is likely that you will at least be insulin resistant.
People who have diabetes must regularly monitor their blood glucose levels and be aware of the signs of hypoglycemia, such as anxiety, blurred vision, confusion, and trembling or shaking. Hypoglycemia can occur due to changes in eating patterns, exercise, or medication. Diabetics can also develop hypoglycemia in response to some type of stress. In severe circumstances, very high blood sugar can lead to ketoacidosis, or diabetic coma. Some warning signs of this potentially fatal state include shortness of breath, stomach pain, fruity-smelling breath, and vomiting. Hypoglycemic episodes require immediate intervention to prevent serious conditions like ketoacidosis, as well as other dangerous problems.
HOW CAN HIGH BLOOD GLUCOSE BE TREATED?
High blood sugar requires treatment, whether it’s due to mild hyperglycemia or full-blown diabetes. This section highlights medical treatments for diabetes as well as general lifestyle strategies that can help lower elevated blood sugar levels.
Although it cannot be cured, diabetes can be effectively controlled through lifestyle change, which may include modifying your diet, getting sufficient amounts of the right nutrients, and exercising regularly. If lifestyle modification alone cannot lower levels, though, there are medications you can take to normalize your blood sugar and manage the condition. The table below lists pharmaceutical drugs that are commonly prescribed to improve glucose metabolism and lower blood glucose levels. These drugs are generally used to treat people with diabetes, but more doctors are beginning to prescribe them for insulin resistance and borderline-high glucose levels as well. It’s important to note that the medication prescribed usually differs depending on what type of diabetes you have.
|Drugs for Diabetes (High Blood Glucose)|
|Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors (acarbose, miglitol) Glyset, Precose||Since these drugs slow the breakdown and absorption of glucose, they may cause low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia). You should not skip meals or go for long periods without eating while taking these drugs.|
|Amylin (pramlintide) Symlin||This drug slows the movement of food through the stomach, so tell your doctor if you have ever had gastroparesis, a condition in which food passes very slowly from the stomach to the intestine. Consult a healthcare professional before taking if you are using pain medication, or are pregnant or breastfeeding.|
|Biguanides (metformin, rosiglitazone, glipizide) Avandamet, Glucophage, Metaglip||Metformin may cause deficiencies of nutrients such as vitamin B12, folic acid, and CoQ10. Side effects can include anemia, fatigue, increased hunger and/or fluid buildup, muscle weakness, nausea and vomiting, tremors, and heart palpitations.|
|Dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors (sitagliptin) Januvia||Consult your health practitioner before using if you have ever had pancreatitis, gallstones, kidney disease, or high triglycerides.|
|Glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1) agonists (exenatide) Byetta||Byetta is usually taken within the hour before the morning and evening meals. It should not be taken after meals. If you use oral contraceptives, do not take at the same time as Byetta. Contact your medical provider if you experience symptoms associated with high or low blood sugar.|
|Insulin (injection) Humulin, Novolin, Humalog, Novolog, Lente, Ultralente||Dosage varies depending on the type of insulin prescribed.* Insulin is typically taken before a meal, but timing differs by product. Take only as directed by your physician.|
|Rapid insulin releasers (repaglinide, nateglinide) Prandin, Starlix||Before using, tell your doctor if you have or have ever had kidney disease, liver disease, hormonal disorders, or type 1 diabetes. Inform your medical provider immediately if you experience symptoms of either high or low blood sugar.|
|Sulfonylureas (glyburide, glipizide, tolazamide) Diabeta, Glycron, Glucotrol, Tolinase||Sulfonylureas can lead to the depletion of nutrients like CoQ10. Additional side effects may include drowsiness, fatigue, anxiety, weight gain, gas and/or bloating, muscle weakness, tremors, sleep problems, depression, and heart palpitations.|
|Thiazolidinediones, or TZDs (pioglitazone, rosiglitazone) Actos, Avandia||Check with your doctor before using these drugs if you have or have ever had heart problems or abnormalities, high blood pressure, or liver disease. Women who are breastfeeding should not take thiazolidinediones.|
|*Please note that insulin can be rapid-acting, short-acting, intermediate-acting, or long-acting. It is also available in a pre-mixed form, which is a combination of short- and intermediate-acting insulin. The type prescribed depends on age, blood sugar management goals, lifestyle (diet, exercise habits, etc.), and other factors.|
You should be aware that the Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD) Study, along with similar research, reported that increasing the dosage and/or number of diabetes medications in an attempt to implement more aggressive glucose control can increase the risk of mortality. This is why doctors prefer that diabetes patients also make the necessary lifestyle changes to control their blood sugar naturally. If fewer medications are used, but you do not put any effort into adjusting your diet and overall lifestyle, the result will still be poor glucose control in combination with higher hemoglobin A1C. This can cause organ and tissue damage, leading to medical complications over time. Ultimately, the future of your health depends on the decisions you make to control your insulin resistance and diabetes, and this requires lifestyle modification.
Another issue related to diabetes medication is that several commonly prescribed drugs cause nutrient depletion, which can produce other symptoms and conditions. For example, metformin, a very popular drug used to manage type 2 diabetes, has been shown to deplete vitamin B12, which increases the risk of diabetic neuropathy. Other drugs may diminish the body’s supply of CoQ10, which is essential for maintaining cardiac tissues. Shortages can lead to an enlarged heart and, eventually, congestive heart failure. The drugs presented in the following table have been linked to nutrient depletion. If you have been prescribed one of these medications, you should speak to your doctor about taking a dietary supplement.
Drug therapy can be used and prescribed responsibly, but it should not be solely relied upon to control the disease. Lifestyle modification should always be part of a management program for high blood glucose. Without it, higher drug dosages are necessary, which only increases the risk of side effects and complications. Medication has beneficial effects, but it needs to be supported by a healthy lifestyle.
|Nutritional Deficiencies Caused By Blood-Sugar Lowering Medications|
|Drug||Nutrients Depleted||Associated Symptoms and Health Problems|
|ACE inhibitors (captopril, enalapril, fosinapril, lisnopril, quinapril, ramipril, trandolapril)||Sodium and zinc||Symptoms include decreased immunity, slow wound healing, smell and taste disturbances, anorexia, depression, night blindness, joint pain, involuntary eye movements (nystagmus), and changes to the skin, nails, or hair. Women may experience menstrual irregularities.|
|Metformin Glucophage||CoQ10, folic acid (vitamin B9), and vitamin B12||CoQ10 depletion can lead to blood sugar imbalances, heart problems, low energy, muscle weakness, and decreased immunity. Folic acid depletion can result in blood sugar dysregulation, cervical dysplasia, increased risk of cancer, muscle weakness, and decreased immunity. It can also cause birth defects. Depletion of vitamin B12 may lead to anemia, depression, fatigue, increased cardiovascular risks, skin tingling and numbness (paresthesia), and general weakness.|
|Sulfonylureas, second generation (glipizide, glyburide)||CoQ10||Symptoms include blood sugar imbalance, heart problems, low energy, muscle weakness, and decreased immunity.|
Finally, you may want to consider taking a nutritional supplement to enhance your diet. There are several substances that can effectively lower your blood glucose levels. Some of these are highlighted in the table below. Although these substances can be obtained without a prescription, they should be taken only under the supervision of a healthcare professional so that you are aware of any risks, side effects, and negative interactions. If you are currently on medication for blood sugar control, you need to notify your doctor if you choose to take a supplement, as your prescription may need to be adjusted. Otherwise, your blood sugar may drop to very low levels.
|Supplements for High Blood Glucose|
|Aged Garlic Extract||600 mg one to three times a day||Aged garlic extract is used to protect the heart and blood vessels, and is reported to help decrease oxidative stress markers, including those related to blood sugar regulation problems. Aged garlic has also been reported to decrease the formation of advanced glycation end-products (AGEs), which are implicated in various health problems, such as heart disease, kidney problems, and cancer. Aged garlic is not reported to interfere with blood thinners. Reported to reduce liver enzymes and fatty liver.|
|Alpha-lipoic acid||600 mg one to two times a day||Reported to help with blood sugar uptake and use in the body. Also helps detoxify the body, protect the kidneys, and improve cholesterol levels. Make sure that the raw material provider for the product is from Europe to guarantee effectiveness.|
|Bilberry||80 mg two to three times a day||Has been shown to protect against eye problems that may result from blood sugar imbalance. Although not reported in studies, bilberry may increase your risk of bleeding. If you are taking aspirin or other anticoagulant medications, always talk to your doctor before supplementing with bilberry or any dietary supplement.|
|Bitter melon||250 to 500mg three times a day||Use a standardized extract that contains 10-percent charantins. When combined with chromium and glutathione (called Glucokine), bitter melon is reported to lower blood sugar and hemoglobin A1c, as well as facilitate weight loss.|
|Cinnamon||250 mg twice a day||Studies have shown that cinnamon improves insulin sensitivity and acts as an antioxidant. If you are taking a medication for blood sugar control, make sure to alert your doctor before taking cinnamon. Use a standardized extract such as Cinnulin PF.|
|Fiber||Check the product label for dosage guidelines. The recommendation for women is 25 g per day, and for men, 30 g per day||Guar gum (Sunfiber) is an excellent source of soluble dietary fiber. Potential side effects include abdominal discomfort and bloating. Excess fiber may also interfere with the absorption of certain nutrients like iron and calcium.|
|GTF (Glucose Tolerance Factor) chromium||200 to 400 mcg once a day||Chromium is important for blood sugar and insulin regulation. Additionally, people who have a diet high in refined carbohydrates like sugar may also be low in chromium. Use under a doctor’s supervision if you are diabetic, as it may affect medication dosage. Do not use if you have kidney or liver problems, chromate or leather contact allergy, or a behavioral psychiatric condition such as schizophrenia or depression.|
|Magnesium||250 to 500 mg twice a day||Use magnesium aspartate, citrate, taurate, glycinate, or any amino acid chelate. Supports bone building and balances calcium intake. The ratio of calcium-tomagnesium intake should be between 1 to 1 and 2 to 1. This supplement is reported to improve blood vessel function and insulin resistance, in addition to decreasing LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides. Also essential for phase-I liver detoxification. If you experience loose stools after taking magnesium, cut your dose in half and gradually increase over the course of a few months. Consult your health-care provider for dosage advice.|
|Multivitamin||Take as directed on the label||A multivitamin/mineral supplement contains essential nutrients that help metabolism and blood sugar regulation. It also can be used to replace the nutrients that may be depleted due to blood sugar medications or a poor diet. Use only high-quality products.|
|N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)||500 mg two to three times a day||NAC is an antioxidant that is reported to help protect against blood vessel damage and clots due to insulin resistance, diabetes, and other blood sugar regulation problems. It also helps improve the body’s capacity to decrease the harmful effects of toxins. NAC has been reported to improve kidney function in laboratory and human studies, and support glutathione production in the kidneys. It is generally well tolerated when taken in recommended dosages.|
|Omega-3 essential fatty acids DHA and EPA (fish oil)||1,000 mg two to three times a day||Excessive inflammation is common in people who are insulin resistant and diabetic, and can lead to other health problems like immune imbalances, sleep problems, and heart disease. Fish oil acts as an antioxidant and decreases inflammation in the body, in addition to supporting heart and blood vessel health. Speak to your doctor before taking if you are on blood-thinning medication, as fish oil may increase the risk of bleeding. Be sure to use only high-quality oils that have been tested for contaminants.|
|Vanadium||250 mcg once a day||Studies have shown that vanadium has insulin-like properties in humans and can help regulate blood sugar levels.|
|Zinc||25 to 50 mg once a day||Zinc is important in immunity and acts as an antioxidant. It is also reported to help regulate blood sugar. May also be used by men to treat low testosterone and support prostate health. Take zinc in the form of an amino acid chelate or citrate. Check with your doctor before using.|
The importance of making healthy food choices, exercising regularly, losing excess weight, getting adequate sleep, and managing stress cannot be emphasized enough when it comes to treating and correcting blood sugar disturbances. Time and time again, it has been proven that lifestyle change is the most effective method for controlling high blood sugar and type 2 diabetes. One of the most important elements in a holistic approach to diabetes management is diet. In addition to controlling the amount of refined sugars and carbohydrates you eat, following these basic guidelines should help improve blood glucose control and lower your fasting glucose level.
- Add cinnamon to your daily intake. One-quarter teaspoon (1 g) of cinnamon per day can go a long way in lowering your blood sugar. According to reports, this one small dose can bring down your blood glucose level by 18 to 29 percent. Get your 1-g serving by sprinkling ground cinnamon on whole grain toast, mixing it in a protein shake, or by using a standardized cinnamon extract.
- Choose low-glycemic foods. Familiarize yourself with the glycemic index and build your diet around low-glycemic foods. Avoid carbohydrate-rich foods like potatoes, rice, pasta, and sweets, as well as products containing artificial sugars like high-fructose corn syrup. Make sure that the most of the carbohydrates you eat are low on the glycemic index, like beans, peas, zucchini, grapefruit, and berries. And although many fruits are low-glycemic, some—including bananas, dried fruits, pineapple, and watermelon—contain more carbohydrates and, therefore, should be eaten less frequently and in smaller amounts. Limit how much fruit juice you drink as well. Meats, fish, poultry, and other animal-based proteins do not contain carbohydrates and, therefore, have very little impact on insulin levels. The same goes for fats. In fact, protein and fats can help lower the glycemic effect of a meal.
- Don’t fall into the low-fat food trap. Many foods that are marketed to dieters, such as low-fat or fat-free cookies and ice cream, are often loaded with carbohydrates. Sugar-free versions of snack foods and dessert items are often high in carbs as well, due to the flours and other starches that are used as ingredients. You should also be careful about eating foods sweetened with sugar alcohols, which contain flours and other carbohydrates. These products can be eaten in moderation as long as doing so does not cause you to exceed your total daily carbohydrate limit, which should be low enough to keep your blood sugar levels within a healthy range. Keep in mind, though, that these sweeteners can cause gas, cramping, and diarrhea.
- Increase your vegetable servings. Try to eat between five and nine servings of vegetables per day. However, be sure to choose vegetables that are low in starch so that your carbohydrate consumption is kept under control. Asparagus, avocados, cabbage, green beans, lettuces, leafy greens, and sprouts are all great options. Starchy vegetables, like potatoes and corn, should be eaten sparingly and must be worked into your total daily carbohydrate intake (see below), as they count towards your carbohydrate servings.
- Keep your carbohydrate consumption under control. Limit your intake of bread, cereal, pasta, and rice, especially in the morning. A registered dietitian can help you determine an appropriate total daily allowance of carbohydrates. The goal is to eat a sufficient amount to meet your nutritional needs while keeping blood sugar and weight under control. More and more medical research is showing that low-carbohydrate diets are effective for managing diabetes, as well as weight. If your blood sugar is trending high, try to eat low-carb breakfasts; eating many carbohydrates in the morning can cause an insulin increase, which leads to a subsequent drop in blood sugar. Low blood sugar, of course, creates the need to consume more carbohydrates, and the vicious cycle that results keeps insulin levels high and contributes to weight gain. If you do not want to give up carbohydrates in the morning, make sure you combine them with protein and healthy fats so that you slow down the rate at which the glucose is released into the bloodstream.
- Limit fast foods. Studies have shown that people who frequently eat fast food establishments are at a higher risk for weight gain and insulin resistance. That being said, many fast food restaurants have taken significant steps to improve their menus, offering more fruit and salad options, as well as buns made from whole grains. The soft drink consumption involved in dining at fast food restaurant may pose just as great a risk—if not greater—as the food. A 32-ounce (or “large”) soft drink contains about thirty teaspoons of sugar. Coffee drinks sold by fast food restaurants are also loaded with sugar. Although fast food is not recommended, you can eat it on occasion, provided that you stick with healthy options, and avoid their soft drinks and other sweetened beverages.
- Stay hydrated. Studies have shown that drinking adequate water may reduce appetite and facilitate weight loss, both of which can help you better manage high blood sugar. Additionally, meeting your daily water requirement assists the kidneys in filtering the blood and flushing toxins out of the body. One study found that drinking more water over time led to lower rates of chronic kidney disease compared to people who drank the least amount of water. Protecting the kidneys is extremely important in people with diabetes, since the disease can lead to chronic kidney disease. Experts generally advise drinking two to three liters of water per day depending on your size, physical activity, climate, and health goals.
- Stock your kitchen with organic foods. When possible, buy foods that are certified organic. Pesticides and other toxins that are often found in nonorganic foods have been linked to insulin resistance, the precursor to type 2 diabetes.
- Take in adequate minerals. Chromium, magnesium, and zinc are essential minerals that support blood sugar balance and insulin regulation. However, studies show that many Americans do not take in sufficient amounts through their diet, which tends to be high in sugar. High sugar levels in the blood will deplete these nutrients more quickly, as they are used up to help the body respond to the surge of glucose. Therefore, to avoid a deficiency, restrict your sugar intake, and be sure to eat foods rich in each of these nutrients. Chromium can be found in small quantities in most foods, with the highest concentrations in beef, liver, chicken, dairy products, eggs, and seafood. Magnesium is plentiful in artichokes, beans, nuts, oat bran, seeds and spinach. While zinc is not always easy to obtain from the diet, it is contained in shellfish, beef, and fortified cereals that contain 25-percent of the Daily Value (DV) for zinc. One of the best ways to ensure adequate intake of these minerals is by taking a dietary supplement, especially if you already have problems with blood sugar management.
- Up your fiber consumption. Because it is not absorbed by the body, fiber does not raise blood sugar levels. In fact, fiber helps to slow down the release of sugar into the bloodstream following a meal. Fiber-rich foods also make you feel full more quickly, which is further incentive to meet your daily requirement of at least 25 to 30 grams per day. Legumes, leafy green vegetables, and flax seeds are all excellent sources of fiber. Another good source is guar gum, a fiber supplement that helps to stabilize blood sugar by slowing the transit time, or absorption, of sugar in the intestine.
One of the most important ways to reduce your blood sugar is regular exercise, which has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity by as much as 23 percent. Plan to do some kind of physical activity for thirty to sixty minutes at least three or four times a week. A combination of aerobic exercise and strength training is ideal, but even a low-impact activity like walking is sufficient. Try going for a walk or taking a bike ride three days a week, and then do some form of strength training two days a week. Regular exercise can also help you shed pounds, which almost always aids in reducing insulin resistance and lowering blood glucose levels. Medical experts agree that weight loss is one of the best ways to prevent prediabetic conditions from developing into diabetes. Losing even 10 percent of your weight in body fat significantly reduces health risks associated with being obese or overweight, diabetes included.
Along with diet and exercise, strive to spend some more time in the sun. Research indicates that thirty minutes of full sunlight exposure three times a week can help lower blood glucose by boosting your body’s production of vitamin D, which is essential for proper insulin utilization. Do not shower immediately after being in the sun, however, since showering removes the body oils in which vitamin D is formed and, therefore, limits how much vitamin D is absorbed by the body. You should have a blood test to check your level of vitamin D. If it is low, you will most likely need to take a vitamin D3 supplement to maintain an optimal blood level.
Last Updated: August 16, 2018
Originally Published: August 1, 2016