Five Simple Ways to Lower Your Blood Sugar

Clay Wirestone

| Apr 4, 2013

Diabetes can seem complicated and overwhelming, full of charts and devices and concerned-looking medical professionals. There's talk of hormones and endocrine systems, of obscure organizations and dietary plans.

It all comes down to this: What it's really about-the one, single thing it's about-is lowering that sky-high blood sugar number.

That's it. Everything follows from getting that blood sugar number down. It doesn't matter how you got there, and it doesn't matter what you did. What's important, what's critical for you right here, right now, is to lower that number.

Here are five simple ways to lower your blood sugar. The list doesn't including the most obvious choices (medication) because you know them already. These are some methods you might not have thought about.


1. Stay on your feet

The simple answer that doctors give diabetics (especially type 2s) who want lower their blood sugars is to exercise. And it works!

But what if you're not the exercising type? What if the sight of a treadmill or exercise bike or running shoes gives you the fits? That's okay, too, actually. You might want to consider simply  spending a chunk of each day on your feet. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, simple activities like sweeping the floor or dusting the shelves or taking the dog out for a walk are all healthy ways to stay active. You will burn calories, and you will move that blood sugar number down.

2. Drink water

Believe it or not, evidence suggests that staying hydrated can have an effect on blood sugars and whether or not people develop type 2 diabetes. Is the effect it a big one? We're not sure yet. But a 3,000-person study cited in the New York Times showed that people who drank the most water-17  to 34 ounces a day-were 30 percent less likely to develop diabetes than those who drank less water.

Further research cited by the Times shows when your body is dehydrated, your kidneys go into panic mode. They retain water and release a hormone that raises blood sugar. So make sure to keep that water glass filled up. You're reducing your chance of developing high blood sugars and possibly cutting long-term health risks!

3. Reduce stress

Anybody with type 1 diabetes will tell you that if you have a spike in your stress level, your blood sugar level will likely spike, too. But this advice works for type 2s and nondiabetics as well. As the American Diabetes Association puts it, stress causes your body to react aggressively. Glucose is dumped into your blood, giving you a source of quick energy.

But this doesn't work for people with diabetes. Without the insulin to convert that sugar into a form your body can use, it simply piles up. And it causes-you guessed it-high blood sugars. Before you freak out, then, step back. Take a few seconds to settle down. Perhaps you could try some breathing exercises or meditation. Whatever you do, keeping yourself tranquil will help keep those blood sugar levels level.

4. Watch your weight

Diabetic hear certain bits of advice all the time. We've already covered the exercise one. Well, here comes another: Watch what you weigh. The bigger you are, the more challenges you're likely to have with your blood sugars. For type 2s, weight is one of the main risk factors for developing the disease. Your body struggles to keep up with the bigger (and heavier) demands placed on it.

But no one says you have to lose hundreds of pounds at once. Yo-yo dieting can cause problems of its own. But you should know your weight, if you're too heavy, you should work to lose some of those pounds. And according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, weight loss is good for a bunch of other things, too. It can lower your blood pressure (another major problem for many people with diabetes) and decrease your bad cholesterol.

5. Snack smarter

You already know that certain snacks won't help your blood sugar levels. Candy bars and other sugary treats can send your blood glucose levels spiraling out of control. But that doesn't mean you can't snack at all.

Many kinds of vegetables-celery and broccoli for instance-have few carbohydrates and won't raise your blood sugar very much. Certain kinds of fruits, mainly berries, have few carbs and a low glycemic index, which means that whatever kind of sugar they contain is absorbed into your body slowly.

And that's just a start. There are a multitude of diabetic-friendly ways to snack. Eggs, olives, and string cheese all have small amounts of carbohydrate. Plentiful information on such snacks is available at the Diabetes Health website (, and the sites of organizations like the ADA and the Mayo Clinic have valuable information and tips as well. Whatever kind of snack you pick, make sure it's something that contributes to your health goals.

Final note

Let's close with a word of warning. These suggestions should not replace insulin or any other diabetic drugs prescribed by your doctor. As a person with diabetes, you need a team of health-care professionals and an overall treatment plan. Type 1s will need to take medication for the rest of their lives (or until the arrival of a cure). Many type 2s will need medication as well.

While there are many practical, simple ways to keep your blood sugar down (or keep it from going higher), never turn your back on solid, scientifically proven treatments. You deserve the best care possible.


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Categories: American Diabetes Association (ADA), Blood Sugar, Blood Sugar, Diabetes, Diabetes Health, Diabetes Health Magazine, Diabetic, Type 1 Issues, Type 2 Issues

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Posted by Anonymous on 9 April 2013

Good advice! I have a question. Recently while traveling I stopped at a gas station to get a cup of coffee. To my surprise they had a sugar free pecan cappuccino and I was very excited as this rarely happens in any store. It was very good and as I stopped for dinner, I took my blood sugars, they were up to 335! I was shocked and obviously the coffee was not sugar free!!! As my numbers never, never get that high it really freaked me out (type 1.5). So what would you suggest to lower that number? I am not insulin dependent so I took extra oral meds and a long hard walk which did the trick...Perhaps you might want to talk a bit about situations like this. So, I will never trust a convenience store for sugar free anything. I just think we need to educate people more. Your thoughts?

Posted by Anonymous on 9 April 2013

I have controlled my diabetes without any medication for the past ten years using these types of tips. I started with an A1c of 9.6 but now it is usually 5.9-6.1. It's hard and it really requires intention on my part. Too often, people I know take a passive role in their diabetes. They take their pills and watch some of what they eat but don't really commit to the process. It's hard but it can be achieved. Take active control of your diabetes.

Posted by Anonymous on 9 April 2013

Stay on your feet is kind of minimal. If you start walking, even if only in bursts of 10 minutes at a time (3x a day) you will be amazed at what it does for your blood sugar. Test your blood sugar before you begin (since a very high blood sugar before exercise would go higer further for a time. But otherwise, as you routinely do exercise, especially after a mealexpect to see your blood sugars trend down. Ideally you need at least 30 minutes of moderate walking - this is true for good overall health as well. An added benefit of exercise is it does curb your appetite too.

Posted by Anonymous on 9 April 2013

Hello! Great reminders! As a Type 1, I really appreciate reading this b/c sometimes life (and doctors) make things seem so overwhleming and difficult, but you are totally right! When it comes down to it, just get that number down! Keep up the great work, and thank you for the encouragement! Traci R.

Posted by Anonymous on 15 July 2013

GREAT article. No nonsence style & helpful advice. Thank you very much.

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