So, your blood sugar levels are soaring and panic sets in. Good for you for looking for ways to lower blood sugar instantly. Because if you leave this problem unchecked, over time it can:
– Damage nerves
– Damage blood vessels
– Lead to heart disease and other problems
The questions is…
1) Are you trying to find a way to lower your blood sugar immediately, as in, you just ate/drank something that caused a huge blood sugar spike?
2) Are you looking for strategies to lower your blood sugar before it even spikes?
They are different things, so let’s discuss.
If you answered yes to question #1: First, what level of blood sugar is dangerous? The general guidelines for your blood sugar (from the ADA) are in the following table:
|80-130mg/dL||fasting||Good for someone with diabetes|
|Less than 180 mg/dL||1-2 hrs after a meal||Official recommendation from ADA for a person with diabetes.|
|Less than 140 mg/dL||1-2 hrs after a meal||Normal range, a person without diabetes|
|Over 250 mg/dL||1-2 hours after a meal||Out of range. Call your doctor to see if you need medical attention.|
What to do if you are 180-250 mg/dL after a meal? This is too high and in the danger zone. But experts say you can to these three things:
Insulin – Talk to your doctor about your options for using insulin when your blood sugar is high. Many people choose to manage their blood sugar without insulin, or with the goal of reducing their dependency on insulin injections over time.
Water – Dehydration can cause blood sugar spikes. Water helps to re-hydrate you, as well as help lower your blood sugar once it has already spiked because it helps flush out the blood glucose through your urine.
Cardio – The theory here is that cardiovascular exercise (like walking, or jogging) can help lower blood sugar by signaling your body to fuel your muscles, which then causes your blood sugar to convert that energy into muscle fuel. But, this varies from person to person. Also if you over-do it, and do exercise that is too strenuous, it can have the reverse effect and actually raise blood sugar levels. A good choice here is walking briskly.
But let’s say you want to get lower your blood glucose before it even gets too high. These are 5 preventative, ongoing ways to control your own blood sugar.
There is no list of foods that will lower your blood glucose immediately. But there are things you can do that may help you control your blood sugar spikes before they happen.
1 – Eat fewer carbs, more fat
Note: We aren’t doctors, and any advice given here is personal opinion. You should check with your doctor before changing your diet.
Research (1)(2)(3) has shown that from the carbohydrates that are eaten, their absorbed glucose is responsible for blood sugar spikes. So reducing the amount of carbohydrate at a meal reduces the blood sugar spike.
While fat doesn’t affect the blood glucose, per se, it can modify the absorption of carbohydrates. So yes, fat is a good thing.
But how much carbs, and how much fat? What’s the right balance?
This study found that the following two combinations of fat and carbs reduced blood sugar the most in people with diabetes:
30:20:50 (30% protein, 20% carb, 50% fat)
30:30:40 (30% protein, 30% carb, 40% fat)
20% or 30% of carbs is probably less than you think, and probably less than you are eating now.
And 40-50% of fats is probably more than you think, and probably more than you are eating now.
Let’s look at 30:20:50 (30% protein, 20% carb, 50% fat)
If you are eating 2000 calories per day, 20% of those calories is 400 calories
20% carb diet = 400 calories of carbs
4 calories per 1 g carb = 100g carbs per day
How many times per day do you eat, (and eating causes your blood sugar to spike, from the glucose in your food)?
Let’s say you eat 4 meals per day
100g carbs/4 meals = 25g carbs per meal
If you eat 3 meals per day, with NO SNACKING (come on, who does this?), that’s:
100g carbs/3 meals = 33.3g carbs per meal
Let’s level set for a quick minute. 25 or 33g of carbs isn’t very much. And all carbs aren’t created equal. Some of those carbs are going to be good for you and packed with nutrients and fiber, and others are going to be junk that will likely leave you feeling hungry. Regardless, a carb is a carb.
Here are some good carb choices at about 20g* each:
- 1 apple
- 1 orange
- 20 strawberries
- 50 raisins
- 1 cup of peas
- 2/3 of one baked potato
- 1.5 frozen hash brown patty
- 3.4 cup black beans
- 1 cup cooked oatmeal
Additionally, you could really fill up on these carbs, also at 20g each:
- 2 pints of mushrooms
- 14 – 5″ spears of broccoli
- 5 medium zucchinis
- 50 oz spinach, or 9 full packages/bags
We know, these are outrageous quantities and nobody actually eats 9 bags of spinach. But the point is, that you can really fill up on many vegetables without overdoing carbs. Adding vegetables into your daily routine is good for your blood sugar.
And oh yeah…Here are other carbs, not recommended, due to their sugar content and lack of fiber, but they all have 20g of carbs or less:
- 6 oz orange juice (not a full 8 oz)
- 6 oz of Coca Cola (that’s 1/2 can, and the same carbs as orange juice)
- 10 chips – corn tortilla chips
- 1/4 slice Costco pepperoni pizza (that’s right, a whole slice has 80g carbs)
- 1 hotdog bun
- 2/3 of a pop tart
- 1 Quaker chewy granola bar, chocolate chip
- 2 Reese’s Peanut Butter cups
*All the carbs in the foods mentioned above are Net Carbs, which subtracts the fiber grams from the total carb count. More fiber = less net carbs.
Let’s look at 30:20:50 again (30% protein, 20% carb, 50% fat)
If you are eating 2000 calories per day, 50% of those calories is 1000 calories
50% fat diet = 1000 calories of fat per day
9 calories per 1 g fat = 111g fat per day
Again, let’s say you eat 4 meals per day
111g fat/4 meals = 28g of fat per meal
If you’re that rare person that never snacks and only eat 3 meals per day, that’s:
111g carbs/3 meals = 37g fat per meal
Yes that’s a lot of fat in one meal. And just like carbs, some of those fats are going to be good for you and other types of fats will be worse.
Each of these food examples have 30g of fat:
- 3 oz dark chocolate
- 2 TB olive oil
- 1 large avocado
- 3 oz cheese
- 6 whole eggs
- 60 peanuts
- 24 walnut halves
- 4 TB peanut butter
- 2 TB butter
2 – Drink Water
Being even slightly dehydrated can cause blood sugar spikes. But also having diabetes to begin with can cause dehydration. So it’s really important to drink water. Drinking water helps rehydrate the blood.
Just drinking water from a drinking fountain is not going to be enough.
Get in the habit of packing a filled water bottle before school every morning. You should be able to carry a water bottle to school, and to be able to drink as much water during class as you need to.
If any school rules are preventing you from having access to water at all times, and/or refilling of your water bottle, you need to talk to your teachers and school office.
3 – Exercise
While you exercise, muscles can use glucose without insulin.
So during that time when you are exercising, your muscles are pulling the glucose from your blood to give them fuel.
4 – Fiber
Fiber helps slow down your food’s digestion and absorption of sugar. Some of it simply passes through you. Some examples of fiber sources are:
- leafy greens
- whole grains
- some fruits
Examples of foods with 5 or more grams of fiber are:
- 1 slice Sarah Lee Delightful Whole Wheat bread
- 5 spears of broccoli
- 1 apple
- 1 pear
- 2 kiwis
- 3/4 cup raspberries
- 17 baby carrots
- 1/3 head romaine lettuce
- 25 green beans
Most experts agree that increasing fiber in your diet should be done slowly, and also while drinking more water.
5 – Tracking and logging
Track, and write down, which foods and meals are causing the high blood sugar levels so you can avoid them next time.
3 meals per day, and 365 days in a year…that’s 1095 different food combinations. Some of those are going to cause high blood sugar, and some of them won’t.
We already discussed the eating combinations and foods most likely to lower your blood sugar. But your blood glucose monitor will be the truth teller. It will tell you what foods and meals are working for you, and keeping your blood sugar under control, or not.
If you take your blood glucose reading 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 60 minutes after a meal, you should find the highest point of blood glucose (normally) happens at one of those times.
But with 1095 different meals over a year, it’s impossible to remember all that yourself. So, write it down.
For the meals that work for you, great. Make a note of those so that you can repeat them. For meals that caused a great big blood sugar spike, find out why.
What caused the spike?
- How many carbohydrates were there? 50g? 70g? It could be too many.
- How much fat was there? Was there any fat in the meal to slow the absorption of the carbs? You might need more fat.
- How much fiber was there? You might need more fiber.
Now you know 5 ways to lower your blood sugar, naturally. We hope you find these tips useful.
What things are you doing to lower your blood sugar? What’s working or not working for you? Let us know in the comments!