4 Lifestyle tips for better blood sugar balance
- 4 Minutes Read
If you want to feel your best both mentally and physically, follow these four lifestyle tips to optimize blood sugar balance, an under-estimated aspect of your health that matters a lot!
Keeping your blood sugar steady makes a difference in how you feel and your overall health.
A more balanced blood sugar can:
When all systems work optimally, food is digested and broken down into glucose. The hormone insulin (produced in the pancreas) brings glucose from the blood into your cells for energy.
However, suppose things aren’t working correctly? Over time, your cells won't respond as efficiently to insulin, resulting in elevated blood sugar. Your pancreas, in turn, must work harder and harder to regulate blood sugar. This increase in insulin production translates to increased fat storage and potentially type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a common chronic health condition that, if unmanaged, is associated with a variety of health complications.
Even without a diabetes diagnosis, you may experience post-meal blood sugar spikes based on what you eat and how much. Simple carbohydrates from foods such as soda, candy, pastries, chips, cookies, sugared cereal, etc., are digested very quickly in the body, resulting in rapid rises in glucose and insulin. Rapid changes in glucose impact energy levels and mood. In addition, if this cycle of elevated glucose and insulin continues over time, you may develop insulin resistance, prediabetes, and possibly type 2 diabetes. One way to manage glucose and insulin levels is to get a handle on your weight.
Carrying excess weight can increase your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic health conditions. When you have too many fat cells, it is harder to balance blood sugar, as fat cells are more resistant to insulin than muscle cells.
The good news is, if you are overweight, even small reductions in weight can make a difference. Losing 5-7% of your body weight has been shown to improve blood glucose levels through improved insulin sensitivity.
The Diabetes Prevention Program studied overweight adults at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, who lost 5-7% of body weight and became more physically active. By losing weight and increasing planned activity, these individuals decreased their risk of developing diabetes by 58%. Adults over 60 years of age, in the same study, showed a 71% reduction in developing type 2 diabetes during the 3-year study period.
Additional weight loss may have an even more significant impact. A 10-15% weight loss shows greater improvement in often-linked health issues such as heart disease and fatty liver.
Eating balanced meals and snacks featuring non-starchy vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains will help you feel your best. The balance of macronutrients steadies blood sugar by slowing digestion and absorption while also helping you stay full and satisfied.
Use the plate method to build a balanced meal. Start by filling a 9-inch plate as follows:
Want to ensure you give yourself the best chance of optimal blood sugar balance? Make sure you are nailing your daily fiber targets. The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for total fiber intake for adults is 14 grams per 1000 calories and is MyNetDiary's default goal. MyNetDiary makes it easy to adjust targets in the app. Check out this article for tips on setting nutrient targets.
Dietary fiber, a type of undigestible carbohydrate, is very helpful in managing post-meal glucose levels. While soluble and insoluble are beneficial to overall health, studies have shown that soluble fiber in particular can improve post-meal blood sugar and insulin sensitivity in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Soluble fiber lowers post-meal glucose by slowing food movement as it travels from your stomach to your gut. By slowing down the digestion process, post-meal glucose spikes are reduced.
Good sources of soluble fiber:
Did you know that dehydration can cause your blood sugar levels to rise? Less water in the body means a more significant percentage of glucose in the blood. If you strive to stay hydrated but don’t enjoy the taste of plain water, check out this article for some sugar-free beverage ideas.
Exercise lowers blood sugar by removing glucose from the bloodstream to fuel muscles. Whether completing errands on foot or doing an on-demand workout class, physical activity helps reduce blood sugar for hours after the activity has ended.
Try to include aerobic exercise and resistance training in your weekly routine. Aim for 30 minutes x 5 days a week.
In addition to planned workouts, build some activity into your daily routine after eating to further balance your blood sugar.
Wondering how to start? These ideas can help:
Keeping blood sugar levels steady can both help you feel good and prevent or delay the development of several chronic diseases. If you want to learn more about how your blood sugar compares to national targets, and assess your risk for diabetes, ask your doctor to order some blood work.
The HbA1C is a simple blood test to evaluate your blood sugar over the last 2-3 months. The CDC recommends everyone over age 45 get this tested. If the results come back standard, repeat in 3 years. If you are younger than 45, overweight, and have risk factors for prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, it is recommended you get an A1C as a baseline.
Finally, if you are at risk for type 2 diabetes and other chronic health issues, consider meeting individually with a registered dietitian. They can develop a diet and lifestyle plan for you while considering your preferences and health goals. Click on this resource to find a dietitian in your area.
Our biggest tips for how to prevent diabetes naturally
20 Healthy carb-counted snacks from a dietitian’s kitchen
Want to test your blood sugar without pricking your finger? Continuous glucose monitors make this a reality
Still new to MyNetDiary? Learn more today by downloading the app for FREE.Diabetes->Blood glucose