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How to Lower Blood Sugar

Many clinical trials and medical studies document ways to lower the body’s blood sugar levels and prevent the development of prediabetes, Type 2 diabetes and other long-term health issues. Eating smarter, exercising more and eliminating stress are among the five top tips to lower blood sugar.

Last Modified: October 24, 2022
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Top Five Tips to Lower Blood Sugar

High blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, has several causes. Among them are stress, being overweight, drinking too much alcohol, illness and not taking enough insulin if you have prediabetes or diabetes.

Over time, high blood sugar leads to long-term health problems, starting with diabetes. Symptoms of hyperglycemia include feeling thirsty, weariness, blurry vision and the need to urinate more often.

Below are five tips to help lower blood sugar levels.

Eat Breakfast and Frequent Small Meals

Skipping breakfast and consuming two oversized meals can lead to insulin resistance. But eating smaller and more frequent meals helps treat hyperglycemia, improves insulin sensitivity and reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Spreading meals and snacks throughout the day helps avoid low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, and high blood sugar levels. 

However, it’s important to be mindful of the types of snacks you eat. A nutrient-dense diet is better for overall health rather than consuming fast, prepackaged and processed foods. Healthy snacks may include fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, hard-boiled eggs and unflavored/unsweetened yogurt. 

Read the label. If it has added sugar, high sodium content or saturated fats, choose something else.

Diet and Exercise

Eat a consistent diet of healthy foods and work to eat at the same times every day. Avoid empty-calorie foods like processed chips, crackers and cookies.

Instead, maintain a balanced diet with plenty of vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and fruits. Your diet for diabetes should include foods high in fiber, which help regulate blood sugar levels within a normal range.

As research and current health information indicates, diet alone is not enough to lower your blood sugar. You also need to exercise. Regular exercise helps maintain a moderate weight and increases insulin sensitivity.

Exercise also helps the muscles use blood sugar for contraction and energy.

Recommended exercises include walking and resistance exercises like weightlifting, swimming, hiking, dancing, biking and running. Together, a sensible diet and consistent exercise helps people lose weight, which helps with long-term blood sugar management.

One small warning: If you are someone who has ketones in your urine, consult a doctor before you start an exercise plan. In your case, exercise may raise your blood sugar. Always check for ketones in your urine when your blood sugar is over 240 mg/dl. Also, note that extremely high blood sugar levels can cause diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) — a medical emergency.

Symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis include shortness of breath, dry mouth, a fruity smelling breath, nausea and vomiting. DKA is a serious complication if you have Type 1 diabetes, but it’s rare in people who have Type 2 diabetes.

Stay Hydrated with Water

Drinking enough water helps keep blood sugar levels within a healthy range. It also prevents dehydration and helps the kidneys flush excess sugar through urine. Drinking water throughout the day can be another tool in a comprehensive plan of diabetes prevention.

Water and zero-calorie drinks are best for staying hydrated. Avoid sugar-sweetened options because they can lead to insulin resistance, raise blood glucose levels, increase the risk of diabetes and drive weight gain.

People with a high copeptin concentration who drink plenty of water lower their blood copeptin and glucose concentration.

Stress Management and Sleep

Stress affects blood sugar levels. When you’re under a lot of stress, your body gears up to make sure it has enough energy to deal with it. Insulin levels drop, glucagon levels go up and more glucose heads to the blood.

Exercises and relaxation methods such as yoga and meditation can help manage blood glucose.

You also need enough sleep to control your blood sugar. Many sleep-related studies and statistics on diabetes show a link between sleep disorders and insulin resistance. Others show a direct connection from sleep apnea and insomnia to the development of prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes.

Monitor Blood Glucose and Take Insulin as Prescribed

Continually monitor your blood sugar levels before and after exercising and throughout the day to ensure they’re in the acceptable range. If you are hyperglycemic, you can quickly lower your levels by taking fast-acting insulin. Take only the prescribed insulin amount, and remember to ask the doctor how much rapid-acting insulin to take in an emergency.

Re-check your blood sugar 15 to 30 minutes later to ensure your blood sugar goes down but does not drop too low.

When to Go to the ER

You should call 911 or go to the emergency room if you are experiencing severe diabetes symptoms or feel sick and cannot keep any food in your stomach. You should also seek emergency medical help if your blood glucose remains persistently above 240 mg/dl. or 13.3 mmol/L and there are ketones in your urine.

Severe symptoms requiring emergency medical attention include:
  • Extreme fever
  • Loss of muscle function or feeling
  • Problems with movement
  • Seizures
  • Severe vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Speech impairment

Hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state and diabetic ketoacidosis, for example, are severe acute complications of diabetes. HHS has severe hyperglycemia (600 mg/dl or 33.3 mmol/L) with no ketoacidosis, while DKA has ketoacidosis and hyperglycemia. These conditions require immediate treatment.

When to See Your Doctor

Because symptoms can vary and some types of diabetes do not typically present with noticeable symptoms, such as gestational diabetes, these conditions may not be detected until routine screenings are conducted that include diabetes testing.

Make a doctor’s appointment if you experience the following symptoms:
  • Trouble keeping your blood glucose level within the acceptable range.
  • High blood sugar level over 240 mg/dl even after taking medication.
  • Overly frequent trips to the bathroom to urinate.
  • Fever that lasts more than 24 hours.
  • Ongoing vomiting or diarrhea but can take some foods and drinks.

See your doctor if you have questions and concerns. If you consistently have trouble keeping your blood sugar levels in the normal range, you should see your doctor every three months.

Your doctor will monitor not just your blood sugar but also your blood pressure and overall health. If needed, your doctor will share a plan with you for treating prediabetes or diabetes treatment. Working together to lower and maintain blood sugar, reversing prediabetes or managing diabetes is possible.

Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.