Keep Your Blood Sugar in Check With These Strategies

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Ever heard a hangry person attribute their snappiness to their blood sugar being too low? While hypoglycemia has been scientifically linked to anger, irritation, and an all-around bad mood, many people don’t realize that high blood sugar can be a problem too. In fact, hyperglycemia is linked with diabetes and prediabetes – two chronic illnesses that affect nearly half of all Americans.

Blood sugar (or glucose) is the main sugar found in your blood. It comes from the foods you eat, and it provides a lot of your body’s energy. Unfortunately, high blood sugar can lead to long-term health problems. Worse, the typical American diet is high in simple carbs and added sugars that often cause blood sugar to spike.

The good news is, a few simple lifestyle changes can help you get your blood sugar back down to healthy levels. Here’s how to lower your blood sugar.

Exercise “snacks”

Unsurprisingly, exercise is one of the best ways to lower your blood sugar. That’s because exercise helps you increase insulin sensitivity, meaning your cells can more effectively use the blood sugar that’s already present. Your muscles also use blood sugar for energy and muscle contraction.

Here’s where the research gets interesting: researchers recommend exercise “snacks,” a.k.a. breaking up your sedentary time with a few minutes of movement. Don’t worry, we’re not asking you to run a mile between every meeting or take multiple HIIT classes a day. But what has been proven to work is light walking or simple bodyweight exercises (like squats or leg raises) every 30 minutes or so.

Another option? Instead of one longer exercise session, try breaking up your workout into 10-minute chunks and spreading them throughout your day. That way, you’re never sitting for too long. These shorter workouts might also be easier to fit into your hectic schedule.

One last thing to keep in mind: if you can, schedule your exercise for after a meal. Glucose levels tend to peak about an hour and a half after a meal, and exercising is one way to reduce blood sugar. In fact, research has shown that a short walk after a meal can lower blood sugar levels – so grab a family member or a friend and make a post-meal stroll part of your new routine.

Manage carbs

Remember, your body breaks carbs down into sugars, which then get used and stored for energy. An overabundance of carbs can make blood sugar levels rise, especially if your diet is heavy in processed and refined carbs. On the other hand, a low carb diet has been shown to help reduce blood sugar levels and prevent blood sugar spikes (and the requisite crashes).

Work with your doctor to understand how many carbs you need per day. Then, focus on eating these carbs via whole grains, which have a better nutritional value than other processed, refined carbs.

Monitor your blood sugar levels

The most effective way to lower your blood sugar levels is to understand what causes them to spike in the first place. Your meals, medications, exercise, and even quality of sleep can all impact your blood sugar. By tracking your blood sugar levels throughout your usual routine, you and your doctor can better pinpoint what lifestyle changes will help lower your blood sugar. (Plus, blood glucose monitors are widely predicted to be an upcoming wellness trend – might as well jump on that train early.)

Specifically, a constant glucose monitor (CGM) can be a really easy way to understand your baseline blood sugar levels. That way, you can instantly see how every bite and step impacts your blood sugar.

Remember, your individual health is just that – individual. The so-called “normal” blood sugar ranges might differ slightly for you, based on your genetics, your medical history, your stress levels, and more. A precision medicine doctor can help you zone in on your healthy blood sugar range. From there, you can put a personalized plan in place to lower your blood sugar and get extra support from your doctor throughout the process.