High blood sugar occurs when your body can’t effectively transport sugar from the blood into cells.
When left unchecked, this can lead to diabetes.
One study from 2012 reported that 12–14% of US adults had type 2 diabetes, while 37–38% were classified as pre-diabetic (1Trusted Source).
This means that 50% of all US adults have diabetes or pre-diabetes.
Here are 15 easy ways to lower blood sugar levels naturally:
Regular exercise can help you lose weight and increase insulin sensitivity.
Increased insulin sensitivity means your cells are better able to use the available sugar in your bloodstream.
Exercise also helps your muscles use blood sugar for energy and muscle contraction.
If you have problems with blood sugar control, you should routinely check your levels. This will help you learn how you respond to different activities and keep your blood sugar levels from getting either too high or too low (2Trusted Source).
Good forms of exercise include weight lifting, brisk walking, running, biking, dancing, hiking, swimming and more.
Your body breaks carbs down into sugars (mostly glucose), and then insulin moves the sugars into cells.
When you eat too many carbs or have problems with insulin function, this process fails and blood glucose levels rise.
However, there are several things you can do about this.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends controlling carb intake by counting carbs or using a food exchange system (3).
Some studies find that these methods can also help you plan your meals appropriately, which may further improve blood sugar control (4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source).
Many studies also show that a low-carb diet helps reduce blood sugar levels and prevent blood sugar spikes (6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).
What’s more, a low-carb diet can help control blood sugar levels in the long run (10Trusted Source).
You can read more in this article on healthy low-carb eating with diabetes.
Fibre slows carb digestion and sugar absorption. For these reasons, it promotes a more gradual rise in blood sugar levels.
Furthermore, the type of fibre you eat may play a role.
There are two kinds of fibre: insoluble and soluble. While both are important, soluble fibre specifically has been shown to lower blood sugar levels (11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source).
Additionally, a high-fibre diet can help manage type 1 diabetes by improving blood sugar control and reducing blood sugar lows (13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source).
Foods that are high in fibre include vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains.
The recommended daily intake of fibre is about 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. That’s about 14 grams for every 1,000 calories (15).
Drinking enough water may help you keep your blood sugar levels within healthy limits.
In addition to preventing dehydration, it helps your kidneys flush out the excess blood sugar through urine.
One observational study showed that those who drank more water had a lower risk of developing high blood sugar levels (16Trusted Source).
Drinking water regularly re-hydrates the blood, lowers blood sugar levels and reduces diabetes risk (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source)Keep in mind that water and other non-caloric beverages are best. Sugar-sweetened drinks raise blood glucose, drive weight gain and increase diabetes risk (20Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source).
Portion control helps regulate calorie intake and can lead to weight loss (22, 23Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source).
Consequently, controlling your weight promotes healthy blood sugar levels and has been shown to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes (22, 23Trusted Source, 25Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source, 27Trusted Source, 28Trusted Source).
Monitoring your serving sizes also helps reduce calorie intake and subsequent blood sugar spikes (23Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source).
Here are some helpful tips for controlling portions:
- Measure and weigh portions.
- Use smaller plates.
- Avoid all-you-can-eat restaurants.
- Read food labels and check the serving sizes.
- Keep a food journal.
- Eat slowly.
The glycemic index was developed to assess the body’s blood sugar response to foods that contain carbs (29Trusted Source).
Both the amount and type of carbs determine how a food affects blood sugar levels (30Trusted Source, 31Trusted Source).
Eating low-glycemic-index foods has been shown to reduce long-term blood sugar levels in type 1 and type 2 diabetics (32Trusted Source, 33Trusted Source).
Although the glycemic index of foods is important, the number of carbs consumed also matters (34Trusted Source, 35Trusted Source).
Foods with a low glycemic index include seafood, meat, eggs, oats, barley, beans, lentils, legumes, sweet potatoes, corn, yams, most fruits and non-starchy vegetables.
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Stress can affect your blood sugar levels (36Trusted Source, 37Trusted Source).
Hormones such as glucagon and cortisol are secreted during stress. These hormones cause blood sugar levels to go up (38Trusted Source, 39Trusted Source).
One study showed that exercise, relaxation and meditation significantly reduced stress and lowered blood sugar levels for students (40Trusted Source).
Exercises and relaxation methods like yoga and mindfulness-based stress reduction can also correct insulin secretion problems in chronic diabetes (40Trusted Source, 41Trusted Source, 42Trusted Source, 43Trusted Source, 44Trusted Source).
“What gets measured gets managed.”
Measuring and monitoring blood glucose levels can also help you control them.
For example, keeping track helps you determine whether you need to make adjustments in meals or medications (31Trusted Source).
It will also help you find out how your body reacts to certain foods (45, 46Trusted Source).
Try measuring your levels every day, and keeping track of the numbers in a log.
Getting enough sleep feels great and is necessary for good health (47Trusted Source).
Poor sleeping habits and a lack of rest also affect blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity. They can increase appetite and promote weight gain (48Trusted Source, 49Trusted Source).
Sleep deprivation decreases the release of growth hormones and increases cortisol levels. Both of these play an important role in blood sugar control (47Trusted Source, 50Trusted Source, 51Trusted Source).
Furthermore, good sleep is about both quantity and quality. It is best to get a sufficient amount of high-quality sleep every night (49Trusted Source).
High blood sugar levels and diabetes have also been linked to micronutrient deficiencies (31Trusted Source, 52Trusted Source).
Examples include deficiencies in the minerals chromium and magnesium.
Chromium is involved in carb and fat metabolism. It also helps control blood sugar levels, and a lack of chromium may predispose you to carb intolerance (53Trusted Source, 54, 55Trusted Source).
However, the mechanisms behind this are not completely known. Studies also report mixed findings.
Two studies of diabetes patients showed that chromium had benefits for long-term blood sugar control. However, another study showed no benefits (55Trusted Source, 56, 57Trusted Source).
Chromium-rich foods include egg yolks, whole-grain products, high-bran cereals, coffee, nuts, green beans, broccoli and meat.
Magnesium has also been shown to benefit blood sugar levels, and magnesium deficiency has been linked to a higher risk of developing diabetes (31Trusted Source, 58Trusted Source, 59Trusted Source).
In one study, people with the highest magnesium intake had a 47% lower risk of becoming diabetic (60Trusted Source).
However, if you already eat plenty of magnesium-rich foods, then you probably will not benefit from supplements (61Trusted Source).
Magnesium-rich foods include dark leafy greens, whole grains, fish, dark chocolate, bananas, avocados and beans.
Apple cider vinegar has many benefits for your health.
It promotes lower fasting blood sugar levels, possibly by decreasing its production by the liver or increasing its use by cells (62Trusted Source, 63Trusted Source, 64).
What’s more, studies show that vinegar significantly influences your body’s response to sugars and improves insulin sensitivity (63Trusted Source, 65Trusted Source, 66Trusted Source, 67Trusted Source, 68Trusted Source, 69).
To incorporate apple cider vinegar into your diet, you can add it to salad dressings or mix 2 teaspoons in 8 ounces of water.
However, it’s important to check with your doctor before taking apple cider vinegar if you are already taking medications that lower blood sugar.
Cinnamon is known to have many health benefits.
For one, it has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity by decreasing insulin resistance at the cellular level (70Trusted Source, 71Trusted Source).
Studies show cinnamon can also lower blood sugar levels by up to 29% (72Trusted Source, 73Trusted Source, 74Trusted Source).
It slows the breakdown of carbs in the digestive tract, which moderates the rise in blood sugar after a meal (75Trusted Source, 76Trusted Source).
Cinnamon also acts in a similar way as insulin, although at a much slower rate (77Trusted Source).
An effective dose is 1–6 grams of cinnamon per day, or about 0.5–2 teaspoons (78).
However, definitely don’t take more than that since too much cinnamon can be harmful. If you would like to try it, Amazon has a good selection available.
BOTTOM LINE:Cinnamon has been shown to reduce fasting blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity.
Berberine is the active component of a Chinese herb that’s been used to treat diabetes for thousands of years.
Berberine has been shown to help lower blood sugar and enhance the breakdown of carbs for energy (79Trusted Source, 80Trusted Source, 81Trusted Source).
What’s more, berberine may be as effective as some blood sugar lowering drugs. This makes it one of the most effective supplements for those with diabetes or pre-diabetes (79Trusted Source, 82Trusted Source).
However, many of the mechanisms behind its effects are still unknown (81Trusted Source, 83Trusted Source).
Additionally, it may have some side effects. Diarrhea, constipation, flatulence and abdominal pain have been reported (84Trusted Source).
A common dosage protocol for berberine is 1,500 mg per day, taken before meals as 3 doses of 500 mg.
You can read more about this impressive supplement here: Berberine – The World’s Most Effective Supplement?
BOTTOM LINE:Berberine works well for lowering blood sugar levels and can help manage diabetes. However, it may have some digestive side effects.
Fenugreek seeds are a great source of soluble fiber, which can help control blood sugar levels.
Many studies have shown that fenugreek can effectively lower blood sugar in diabetics. It also helps reduce fasting glucose and improve glucose tolerance (85Trusted Source, 86Trusted Source, 87Trusted Source, 88Trusted Source).
Although not that popular, fenugreek can easily be added to baked goods to help treat diabetes. You can also make fenugreek flour or brew it into tea (89Trusted Source).
Fenugreek seeds are also considered one of the safest herbs for diabetes (87Trusted Source, 88Trusted Source).
The recommended dose of fenugreek seeds is 2–5 grams per day. If you’d like to try it, Amazon has a large selection available.
It’s a no-brainer that maintaining a healthy weight will improve your health and prevent future health problems.
Weight control also promotes healthy blood sugar levels and has been shown to reduce your risk of developing diabetes.
Even a 7% reduction in body weight can decrease your risk of developing diabetes by up to 58%, and it seems to work even better than medication (90Trusted Source).
What’s more, these decreased risks can be sustained over the years (91Trusted Source, 92Trusted Source, 93Trusted Source).
You should also be conscious of your waistline, as it is perhaps the most important weight-related factor for estimating your diabetes risk.
A measurement of 35 inches (88.9 cm) or more for women and 40 inches (101.6 cm) or more for men is associated with an increased risk of developing insulin resistance, high blood sugar levels and type 2 diabetes (94).
Having a healthy waist measurement maybe even more important than your overall weight (94).
Make sure to check with your doctor before making lifestyle changes or trying new supplements.
This is particularly important if you have problems with blood sugar control or if you are taking medications to lower your sugar levels.
That being said, if you are diabetic or have problems with blood sugar control, then you should start doing something about it as soon as possible.