Blood sugar (glucose) is the fuel for every single cell in your body. Stable blood sugar level helps prevent complications like diabetes, heart disease, memory problems and fertility problems. It is also key to feeling energized throughout the day as well as controlling hunger. Your blood sugar levels are linked to the type and amount of food you eat, and your body’s ability to create and use insulin – a hormone which regulates the energy and glucose metabolism in your body.
Glucose levels or blood sugar concentration needs to be regulated as part of the metabolic homeostasis (balance) because it affects how the body distributes glucose. The normal blood glucose or sugar level for humans should be around 90 mg/100ml, or 5mM (mmol/l). Of course there are numerous medicines in the market which can help to lower blood sugar, but many of these have side effects like weight gain, hypoglycemia and gastrointestinal discomfort. So here are some natural ways to stabilize blood sugar:
1. Cinnamon. Cinnamon moderately lowers blood sugar by increasing insulin sensitivity. Cinnamon contains a natural water-soluble polyphenol compound called MHCP that mimics the effect of insulin, and works synergistically with insulin in cells. But the effect still remains a debate among researchers as several studies have shown this positive result while others have shown no significant effect. To include cinnamon in your diet, just add it to your coffee, cereal, tea, or yogurt.
2. Eat often: In order to stabilize blood sugar, eat small, frequent, and balanced meals/snacks every 2-3 hours. This will avoid a blood sugar surge and a big release of insulin that results after a large meal, and will allow the blood sugar less time to drop between meals. The sizes of the meals should be reduced accordingly so that the total caloric intake doesn’t change.
3. Fiber: Fiber is the undigested part of grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits. When high fiber (particularly soluble fiber found in beans, oats, apples, citrus fruits and barley) foods are eaten, the sugar/glucose is absorbed more slowly, thus preventing the sharp spikes and lows of blood sugar. A diet that includes insoluble fiber (found in wheat bran, nuts and whole wheat flour) has been associated with a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
4. Limit processed carbs: Perhaps the single most influential food group to your blood glucose is carbohydrates, which causes the levels to rise. Stay away from foods comprised of bad carbohydrates like soft drinks, cookies, cakes, candy, pies, table sugar, and jams. These foods can cause your blood sugar levels to spike.
5. Physical activity helps the body control blood glucose as well. Here, regularity is also the key. According to a new study done by CDC, brisk walking on a regular basis can lengthen the lives of people with diabetes as walking makes cells more receptive to insulin, which leads to better control of blood sugar. Along with about an hour of aerobic exercise four to six times a week, lifting weights two to three times a week can dramatically improve blood sugar regulation. Muscles not only helps absorb sugar and lower blood sugar levels, but it also increases your metabolism and overall insulin sensitivity. In winter, the Arc and treadmill are your friends!
6. Black Tea: According to a report in the Journal of Food Science, black tea contains a substance that mimics some of the type 2 diabetes drugs to reduce blood sugar. The researchers found that black tea contain polysaccharides that can inhibit an enzyme called alpha-glucosidase, which turns starch into glucose. Green or oolong tea also contains this polysaccharide compound, but black tea has more of this substance.
7. Laugh! A study conducted by Japanese researchers found that people with type 2 diabetes who watched a comedy show and laughed soon after eating had significantly lower blood sugar levels than those who attended a boring lecture.
Click here to read Part I of this article.
Fitness Enthusiast and Guest Blogger