Your blood sugar level affects how you feel and can wreak havoc on your body if it is out of whack. What happens when your blood sugar is continuously high? And what are the 15 best foods to lower your blood sugar? Read this post for all these answers!
What is your blood sugar?
To put it simply, your blood sugar is the glucose content in your blood.
When we eat, our body gets sugar from the food we take in. The sugar changes to glucose. Then, the glucose is converted to energy for our body, including the muscles, nervous system, and organs.
The pancreas, liver, and small intestine work together to regulate the blood sugar throughout your body. The endocrine system (made up of the thyroid gland, pancreas, adrenal glands, and more) regulates processes like tissue function, reproduction, and metabolism. Almost every cell and organ in the body are affected by the endocrine system.
The endocrine system is assisted by the organs like the kidney and heart, which have what are called secondary endocrine functions. One of the most common endocrine diseases is diabetes. This is when the body does not process glucose properly.
Why does this happen? There is either a lack of insulin in the body, or in the case that insulin is present, the body is not using it as it should. If there is not enough insulin in the body, glucose cannot enter the cells because insulin makes the cells ready to receive the glucose.
Sounds rather complicated, doesn’t it? Let’s look at a few questions that will simplify things. Then, we’ll look at the best foods to lower your blood sugar.
WHY IS BLOOD SUGAR REGULATION IMPORTANT?
When the blood sugar levels in the body are continually unstable, there is a risk of illnesses, like heart disease and diabetes. Unstable levels of glucose can mean the cells are not being fueled properly on one extreme, and on the other, the bloodstream is overloaded with glucose.
Normal blood sugar: Although blood sugar levels vary between individuals, people without diabetes should have levels around 70 to 80 mg/dl (milligrams per deciliter). This reading is typically seen in the daytime, and before you sit down to eat.
High blood sugar: Did you know that a lot of people in the U.S. are considered prediabetic? This means that their blood sugars are continually on the higher end of the scale. Also called hyperglycemia, this can mean an increased chance of a damaged pancreas, stroke, and risk of atherosclerosis.
What can too much sugar in the body do?
- Slow wound healing
- Nerve damage in legs and hands
- Poor circulation in hands and feet
- Vision problems and even blindness
- Weak immune system
- Kidney disease
- Heart attack
Low blood sugar: Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, can cause symptoms you may be familiar with. If you are not eating well, you may experience shaking, dizziness, and sweating, especially if you are doing something physical. Other signs are:
- Unexplained fatigue
- Mood changes
- Rapid heartbeat
- Blurred vision
- Pale skin
- Trouble sleeping
- Lack of concentration
- Tingling sensations
- And at worst, loss of consciousness
WHY IS MY BLOOD SUGAR HIGH?
Several factors can lead to you consistently having raised blood sugar levels. Being sedentary, carrying around more weight than you should, genetics, and stress all play a part.
And while you cannot control genetics – and stress is often hard to get a handle on – you can eat a healthy diet, which is also instrumental in maintaining your blood sugar levels.
It’s important that you stay away from refined sugar and learn where hidden sugars lurk in foods you may have thought to be healthy. Concentrate on eating whole food like vegetables, protein, and full-fat dairy. Avoid processed foods, and don’t even keep them in the house if they are too tempting!
WHAT FOODS CAN LOWER BLOOD SUGAR QUICKLY?
Not carbs, to put it simply! Carbs, which are often starch and sugar, will cause a significant rise in your blood sugar levels. If you have symptoms of a spike in blood sugar, drinking water and eating a high protein snack like cottage cheese or a hard-boiled egg can help.
But, if you are often having what you think are symptoms of high (or low) blood sugar, it’s always a good idea to consult with your doctor to get things straightened out.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO LOWER BLOOD SUGAR?
Postprandial blood sugar is a fancy name for your blood sugar after a meal. In a non-diabetic person, your blood sugar begins to rise 10-15 minutes after a meal, peaks after an hour or two, and then returns to normal. In people without diabetes, insulin is working normally to circulate glucose throughout the body, making regulation a smooth process.
However, this is based on eating well and eating clean. Eating clean means avoiding processed foods (they are full of hidden sugar), cooking homemade meals instead of going to restaurants, and making sure your plate includes healthy proteins and lots of veggies.
WHAT SHOULD I EAT IF MY BLOOD SUGAR IS HIGH?
If your blood sugar is high, you’ll want to eat foods like whole grains, eggs, greens, melons and berries, protein, and vegetables. I’ll give you a detailed list below so you will be filled in on what the best foods to lower your blood sugar are. Then, stock up on those foods at home to make wholesome meals that will keep your blood glucose levels where they should be.
WAYS TO LOWER LOWER BLOOD SUGAR
- Apple cider vinegar: I’m a huge fan of apple cider vinegar and drink it every day. Apple cider vinegar is known to regulate insulin sensitivity and promote lower blood sugar levels. My post on the benefits of apple cider vinegar explains in detail, but science does back up the fact that drinking it or even putting apple cider vinegar in salad dressing can reduce blood sugar levels.
- Fiber: Because fiber slows digestion and sugar absorption, it’s a great addition to the diet. There are lots of fiber-rich foods that you can enjoy, like chickpeas, avocado, and sweet potato.
- Exercise: I can’t stress enough how important exercise is for so many things – insulin and blood glucose regulation being two of them. What’s the best time to work out?
- Water: Staying hydrated is so important! Flushing out your kidneys is a pretty big bonus, and so is maintaining your blood sugar levels. Whether it’s lemon water or refreshing plain H2O, drink as much as you can every day. The recommended amount of water for women is 9 cups a day, and for men, 12.
- Sleep: Did you know that sleep affects your blood sugar levels? Lack of sleep increases cortisol levels, which in turn, can mess with your blood sugar.
- Intermittent fasting: Intermittent fasting can help maintain blood sugar levels. I think it works so well because you are eating within a certain window and when you do eat, you are concentrating on eating well. As I explain in my video on what I eat in a day on my intermittent fasting regimen, you have control over the times you eat, with no room for unhealthy snacking. Studies prove that a fasting regimen regulates your glucose.
15 BEST FOODS TO LOWER YOUR BLOOD SUGAR
1. FERMENTED DAIRY
The key to fermented dairy is the probiotic content. This healthy component can benefit blood sugar levels. Read my post on the 8 best fermented foods to see how eating fermented dairy like yogurt and kefir is great for the body.
Another fermented food that is good for you is sauerkraut. Kimchi works, too, and they are both foods with antioxidants and probiotics. I’ve written a post recently on the benefits of sauerkraut, and along with fighting inflammation, it helps reduce the risk of diseases like diabetes.
A lot of seeds do wonders for your blood sugar.
- Pumpkin seeds have been proven to reduce blood sugar
- 25 controlled studies showed that whole flaxseed (or ground) may maintain glucose levels
- Chia seeds are amazing, and they stabilize blood sugar
4. BROCCOLI SPROUTS
Broccoli sprouts (and broccoli) contain compounds that alleviate insulin resistance. Eating vegetables is an important part of all-around disease protection, and remember, the main part of your plate at mealtime is supposed to be healthy vegetables.
Although okra is a fruit, it is often used in dishes like a vegetable. Cooking an okra and rice casserole, for example, gives you the benefit of flavonoids that help reduce blood sugar.
Fatty fish like salmon, along with shellfish, are excellent sources of protein. It’s the protein in fish, along with the fatty acids, that regulate sugar levels. Also, because protein fills you up, you do not overeat, and that is important to sugar regulation, too.
Nuts (and nut butters!) have been shown to reduce blood sugar levels. A study with participants who consumed both almonds and peanuts saw an improvement in blood glucose. They are a top-notch anti-inflammatory food as well.
I find it interesting that berries, another highly anti-inflammatory food, is also a food that works toward a healthy blood sugar level. I think it goes to show how essential it is to avoid inflammatory foods.
9. LENTILS AND BEANS
We all know that kale is one of the healthiest foods out there. So it’s no surprise that the flavonoids in kale are antioxidant boosting, maintain insulin resistance, and regulate glucose.
When it comes to oats, the fiber content in this healthy food that aids in lowering your blood sugar. Studies show that oats have a beneficial effect on glucose control.
Not only are the fats and fiber in avocados good for you, but they also make the list of best foods to lower your blood sugar. They fight against metabolic syndrome, which includes issues with excess glucose in the blood.
13. CITRUS FRUITS
Have you read my post on the benefits of lemon water yet? I point out that lemons are an anti-inflammatory food and remember, inflammation can lead to metabolic disease, including diabetes. Eat citrus fruits, including grapefruit, which has anti-diabetic properties.
It’s been proven that eggs can lower the risk of diabetes, although to note, the study was done on men only. However, a study involving men and women showed that high daily consumption of eggs increased the chances of diabetes. Other factors were involved, though, like increased consumption of trans-fats, too. Read more about the benefits of eggs in my recent post.
I’ve mentioned berries and citrus fruits, and now I’ll tell you about apples. The polyphenols in apples fight cancer. Apples are also a low glycemic index food, meaning they cause a slower and lower rise in blood glucose. And remember to drink apple cider vinegar, too!
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