5 Wellness Tips For Better Blood Sugar Balance
By Megan Roosevelt, RDN & Founder of HealthyGroceryGirl.com
November is American Diabetes Month. According to the American Diabetes Association, in 2019, 37.3 million Americans, or 11.3% of the population, had Diabetes(1). According to the CDC, the good news is that you can “prevent or delay Type 2 Diabetes with proven, achievable lifestyle changes—such as losing a small amount of weight and getting more physically active—even if you’re at high risk(2)". While nutrition is a key component to blood sugar balance, many wellness habits can be implemented to support those with Type 2 Diabetes or help prevent Diabetes. Today’s blog post will cover 5 wellness habits for better blood sugar balance!
WHAT IS “BLOOD SUGAR”
Blood sugar, also referred to as blood glucose, is the main sugar found in your body. When you consume a meal containing carbohydrates, it is digested and broken down into glucose. Glucose is your body’s preferred source of energy! Glucose first enters your bloodstream, which raises your blood sugar levels. This rise in blood sugar signals your pancreas to begin producing insulin.
WHY BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS MATTER
Too high or too low blood sugar levels can have short-term and long-term impacts. When it comes to the day-to-day effects, an imbalance in our blood sugar levels may disrupt our sleep, energy levels, mood, and hormones. Long-term high blood sugar increases our risk of developing type 2 diabetes and inflammation. Chronic inflammation is a precursor to many diet-related diseases, such as heart disease and cancer.
This is why managing blood sugar levels is important for everyone, not just those who have Diabetes. Below are a few nutrition and lifestyle tips to help support healthy blood sugar levels.
NUTRITION TIPS FOR BLOOD SUGAR BALANCE
- Have protein at every meal or snack
- Have fiber at every meal or snack
- Be mindful of added sugar intake, whether from homemade or packaged foods. A great way to add sweetness to your meals without a sugar spike is with Purecane! Purecane is an incredible swap for regular sugar because it is sugar-free, has zero net carbs, and has a low glycemic index, so it has no effect on blood sugar levels. This calorie-free sweetener contains no artificial ingredients and also tastes great! Purecane’s Zero Calorie Sweetener Packets are perfect for your morning coffee, afternoon iced tea, or as a replacement in your favorite lemonade recipe! When baking or cooking, try Purecane’s baking sweeteners, such as traditional sugar, brown sugar, and confectioners sugar.
5 WELLNESS TIPS FOR BETTER BLOOD SUGAR BALANCE
Engage in exercise or movement daily, ideally after a meal or snack
Exercise can improve insulin sensitivity! When exercising, cells are able to work efficiently at taking up glucose from the blood to use for fuel. Exercise can improve insulin sensitivity, and your muscles may also effectively utilize the sugar for energy and muscle contraction. Glucose levels hit their peak around 90 minutes post-meal, meaning beginning to move or exercise 30 minutes after eating is ideal for blood sugar levels(3). Exercise "snacks" is another concept that can support better blood sugar levels(4). The goal is to interrupt prolonged sitting with brief bouts of light-intensity walking or simple resistance activities to better support blood sugar levels. For example, every 30 minutes throughout the day, get up and move around for 3-5 minutes.
Reduce and Manage Stress
Stress has a negative impact on blood sugar levels(5). When stressed, our body believes we need more glucose (aka energy) to run away from danger, also known as being in "flight" mode. Our body, therefore, secretes glucagon and cortisol, two hormones that cause blood sugar levels to increase.
Two ways to support our blood sugar levels are to:
- Find healthy habits to manage and reduce stress such as meditation, yoga(6), listening to calming music, or deep breathing.
- Exercise helps to relieve stress and move nervous energy out of the body while also allowing the body to use excess glucose during physical activity.
Get Quality Sleep
Quality sleep is essential for our mental, physical and emotional health. Sleep deprivation has been associated with increasing cortisol (our stress hormone) which can impact blood sugar levels.
A few ways to improve sleep:
- Eliminate the use of screens 1 hour before bed
- Consume magnesium-rich foods throughout the day
- Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages too late in the day which may impact sleep
One study found that people with Type 2 Diabetes had a decrease in blood sugar levels after a walk in the forest(7). This could be due to the benefits of exercise for blood glucose levels and to the many studies that have also shown nature's stress-lowering and mood-boosting effects. We know that stress increases cortisol levels and can increase blood sugar levels. Therefore, walking in the fresh air, surrounded by nature, is a great way to reduce stress and engage in physical activity to support overall health and healthy blood sugar levels.
Manage a Healthy Weight
Being at a healthy weight can support insulin resistance, improve blood sugar control, and lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. According to John Hopkins Medicine, "If you are pre-diabetic or diabetic, then losing 5-10 percent of your body weight can help improve your blood sugar numbers. If you are pre-diabetic and can lose this weight, you will lower your risk of developing diabetes by 58 percent(8)."
For healthy weight loss support, work with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist to receive expert nutrition guidance that is customized to your health needs and dietary preferences.