The Best Foods to Increase Low Blood Sugar

A young girl is drinking orange juice.
Image Credit: Kraig Scarbinsky/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Ever feel shaky, sweaty, nauseous, or even anxious and unsure of why? You may feel one or more of these symptoms when you have low blood sugar. People with diabetes who are on certain types of medications or insulin are more likely to experience these symptoms. Low blood sugar is less than 70 milligrams per deciliter. If left untreated, low blood sugar can lead to coma or death. An effective way to bring up low blood glucose levels is to consume foods that absorb into the bloodstream quickly.

Choose Sugary Drinks

Regular sodas and fruit juices that are not labeled diet or zero-calorie are excellent sources of rapidly absorbed carbohydrate. The fact that they contain mostly carbohydrates and no other nutrients means that these beverages get into the bloodstream quickly. Four ounces or 1/2 cup of a sugary beverage of your choice is all you need. One 4-ounce serving is equivalent to about 15 grams of carbohydrate, which is the amount you need to bring blood sugar up to normal range.

Candy Is Convenient

Hard candies will work well to raise blood sugar. Candies such as peppermints and fruit-flavored discs are great foods for bringing up glucose levels. They are mainly made of sugar with little if any protein or fat, and therefore they absorb quickly into the bloodstream. Jellybeans and gumdrops are also great options. It is best to read the nutrition facts to determine how many candies are needed; remember that 15 grams of carbohydrates is what you should aim for.

Sweeteners in Your Kitchen

Most people have sugar, honey or syrup stocked in their kitchens at all times. These are great sources of fast-absorbing carbohydrate, and it only takes 1 tablespoon of your choice to make up 15 grams' worth. Because these are simple forms of carbohydrate, they will increase blood sugar very quickly. Be careful not to consume too much because doing so can then result in the opposite problem: high blood sugar.

Beyond These Recommendations

Look for a food with 15 grams of carbohydrates on the nutrition facts label and no fat or protein; pay attention to the serving size as well. Raisins and other dried fruit, jelly, jam, gel tubes or glucose tabs are all good sources. Check your blood sugar 15 minutes after consumption of carbohydrates to ensure your level is normal. It is important to treat low blood sugar correctly and with the right food sources, or it can leave you feeling lousy for longer. If your next meal is still more than an hour away, the American Diabetes Association recommends eating a small snack to prevent another hypoglycemic episode. To help keep your blood sugar well-controlled, follow the meal and snack instructions given by your doctor or dietitian.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911. If you think you may have COVID-19, use the CDC’s Coronavirus Self-Checker before leaving the house.