Increased levels of blood sugar, also called hyperglycemia, can be cause for concern. Signs of hyperglycemia include increased thirst, frequent urination and high levels of sugar in your urine. High blood sugar occurs when your body produces too little insulin or is not capable of using insulin properly. If left untreated, a serious medical condition called ketoacidosis, also known as diabetic coma, can occur. In some cases, though, a few changes in lifestyle might be all that is necessary to lower your blood sugar to a healthy range.
Eat a healthy diet to aid in lowering blood sugar levels. Consume high-fiber carbohydrates such as fresh fruits and vegetables, beans and whole grains. Eat lean proteins, including skinless poultry, fish or soy products, and replace full-fat dairy products with those that are low fat or fat-free. Add healthy fats to your diet such as nuts and avocados, and choose olive oil and canola oil for cooking. In addition, avoid or limit your consumption of trans fats, which are hydrogenated fats present in commercially baked goods, fried foods and snack products.
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Participate in regular physical activity. Choose moderate types of exercise such as walking, swimming or bike riding, and make an effort to exercise 30 each day. On busy days, do shorter sessions of 10 to 15 minutes each throughout the day, advises MayoClinic.com. Participate in activities that you enjoy, and consult your doctor prior to beginning any exercise program.
Lose excess pounds to reduce your blood sugar. Even a small loss of 5 percent of your body weight -- for example, 10 lbs. if you weigh 200 lbs. -- can improve your sugar level, according to MayoClinic.com. Practice portion control by measuring out foods, and keep a food diary to track what you are eating. Talk with your doctor about setting weight-loss goals that are realistic and sustainable, and ask about weight-loss programs that are appropriate for you. Maintaining a healthy weight will not only help you reduce your blood sugar but will also improve your overall health.
Consuming alcohol can cause your blood sugar to fluctuate. Drink alcohol in moderation and consume it during a meal to help control blood sugar levels. A common recommendation of moderate alcohol use is one drink per day for women and one or two drinks per day for men.
Increased levels of stress can cause blood sugar levels to rise. If you are feeling stressed, take notice and examine the causes. In some cases, you may be able to set some limits to help you take control and reduce your stress level. Confide in a friend or talk with your doctor if you are feeling overwhelmed.
If you're prone to high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, nutritious foods could be nature's best medicine. Whether you have diabetes or are at risk for the disease, a healthy diet can boost your wellness by keeping your blood sugar in a normal range after you eat. While vegetables can't lower your blood sugar on their own, certain varieties are particularly helpful for blood sugar management. Before making significant dietary shifts, seek guidance from your doctor or dietitian.
The American Diabetes Association calls nonstarchy vegetables the one food people with diabetes can enjoy more of because of their low carbohydrate content and rich amounts of micronutrients. Fresh or steamed veggies provide lower-carbohydrate alternatives to snacks that can spike your blood sugar, such as candy and pretzels. Many also supply valuable amounts of fiber, a nondigestible carbohydrate that has a mellowing impact on blood sugar and promotes appetite control. Particularly high-fiber varieties include cooked Brussels sprouts, which provide nearly 4 grams of fiber per 1/2 cup; cooked asparagus, which provides nearly 3 grams per 1/2 cup; and cooked kale, which supplies over 2 grams per serving. Cauliflower, broccoli and beets are also fiber-rich.
Squash and Sweet Potatoes
Starchy vegetables, although higher in carbohydrates and calories than nonstarchy veggies, are highly nutritious, fiber-rich foods. Replacing less healthy starches such as instant rice, white dinner rolls and egg noodles at your meals, with a serving of starchy vegetable can help lower your blood sugar and your overall nutrient intake significantly. Your best options are not prepared with fatty, sugary or salty ingredients, says the ADA, and include baked sweet potatoes, winter squash and butternut squash. Choose sweet potatoes and yams over white or instant potatoes, which have a high impact on blood sugar.
Beans, Peas and Lentils
Legumes, including beans, peas and lentils, are top sources of fiber. They also provide valuable amounts of protein, which promotes blood sugar control and makes them a nutritious alternative to inflammatory protein sources, such as red, processed and fried meats. As rich sources of saturated fat, these foods increase inflammation in your body, raising your risk for diabetes and heart disease. One cup of cooked lentils provides 18 grams of protein and over 10 grams of fiber. A cooked cup of black or lima beans supplies over 6 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber. Examples of nutritious legume-based dishes include vegetarian chili, lentil soup and low-fat hummus.
Your Overall Diet
A healthy diet for blood sugar control contains balanced meals and snacks at regular intervals. Overeating any food, particularly carb sources, can cause high blood sugar, so incorporate reasonable portions of nutritious starches into your meals. If you have diabetes, talk to your doctor about your specific carbohydrate needs. You can still enjoy low-nutrient fare, such as sweets and fried foods, in modest, occasional proportions. Choose whole fruits such as berries, apples and plums over juices, pineapple and sweetened fruits, which have a high blood sugar impact. Unlike refined grains such as white flour, whole grains like oats, quinoa, brown rice and popcorn are rich in fiber and other essential nutrients. Additional healthy protein sources include lean meats, low-fat dairy products, fish and tofu.
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.