15 Easy Ways to Lower Blood Sugar Levels Naturally
Having high blood sugar levels is a common problem. Here are 15 natural ways to lower your blood sugar levels.
High blood sugar occurs when your body doesn’t make enough or effectively use insulin, a hormone that regulates blood glucose and helps it enter your cells for energy.
High blood sugar (hyperglycemia) is associated with diabetes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 13% of U.S. adults live with diabetes, and 34.5% have prediabetes (1Trusted Source).
This means close to 50% of all U.S. adults have diabetes or prediabetes.
Here are 15 easy ways to lower blood sugar levels naturally:
1. Exercise regularly
Regular exercise can help you get to and maintain a moderate weight and increase insulin sensitivity.
Increased insulin sensitivity means your cells are better able to use the available sugar in your bloodstream.
Exercise also helps your muscles use blood sugar for energy and muscle contraction.
If you have problems with blood sugar management, you should routinely check your levels. This will help you learn how you respond to different activities and keep your blood sugar levels from getting either too high or too low (2).
Useful forms of exercise include weightlifting, brisk walking, running, biking, dancing, hiking, swimming, and more.
2. Manage your carb intake
Your body breaks carbs down into sugars (mostly glucose), and then insulin helps your body use and store sugar for energy.
When you eat too many carbs or have insulin-function problems, this process fails, and blood glucose levels can rise.
However, there are several things you can do about this.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends managing carb intake by counting carbs and being aware of how many you need (3).
Some studies find that these methods can also help you plan your meals appropriately, further improving blood sugar management (4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source).
Many studies also show that a low carb diet helps reduce blood sugar levels and prevent blood sugar spikes (6Trusted Source, 7, 8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).
What’s more, a low carb diet can help manage blood sugar levels in the long run (10Trusted.
3. Increase your fiber intake
Fiber slows carb digestion and sugar absorption. For these reasons, it promotes a more gradual rise in blood sugar levels.
Furthermore, the type of fiber you eat may play a role.
There are two kinds of fiber:
While both are important, soluble fiber has explicitly been shown to improve blood sugar management (11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source).
Additionally, a high fiber diet can help better manage type 1 diabetes by improving the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar and reducing blood sugar lows (13, 14Trusted Source).
Foods that are high in fiber include:
The recommended daily intake of fiber is about 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. That’s about 14 grams for every 1,000 calories (15).
4. Drink water and stay hydrated
Drinking enough water may help you keep your blood sugar levels within healthy limits.
In addition to preventing dehydration, it helps your kidneys flush out the excess sugar through urine.
One observational study showed that those who drank more water had a lower risk for developing high blood sugar levels (16Trusted Source).
Drinking water regularly helps rehydrate the blood, lowers blood sugar levels, and could reduce diabetes risk (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source).
Keep in mind that water and other non-caloric beverages are best. Sugar-sweetened drinks raise blood glucose, drive weight gain, and increase diabetes risk (20Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source
5. Implement portion control
Portion control helps regulate calorie intake and can help maintain a moderate weight (22Trusted Source, 23Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source).
Consequently, weight management promotes healthy blood sugar levels and has been shown to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes (25Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source, 27Trusted Source, 28Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source).
Monitoring your serving sizes also helps reduce calorie intake and subsequent blood sugar spikes (31Trusted Source).
Here are some helpful tips for managing portion sizes:
Measure and weigh portions.
Use smaller plates.
Avoid all-you-can-eat restaurants.
Read food labels and check the serving sizes.
Keep a food journal.
6. Choose foods with a low glycemic index
The glycemic index measures how we absorb or digest foods, which affects the rate at which blood sugar levels rise (32Trusted Source).
Both the amount and type of carbs determine how a food affects blood sugar levels (33Trusted Source, 34Trusted Source).
Eating low-glycemic-index foods has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels in those with diabetes (35Trusted Source).
Although the glycemic index of foods is important, the amount of carbs consumed also matters (33Trusted Source).
Foods with a low to moderate glycemic index include:
7. Manage stress levels
Stress can affect your blood sugar levels (36).
Hormones such as glucagon and cortisol are secreted during stress. These hormones cause blood sugar levels to go up (36, 37Trusted Source).
One study showed that exercise, relaxation, and meditation significantly reduced stress and lowered blood sugar levels for students (38Trusted Source).
Exercises and relaxation methods like yoga and mindfulness-based stress reduction may also help correct insulin secretion problems in chronic diabetes (38Trusted Source, 39Trusted Source, 40Trusted Source, 41Trusted Source).
8. Monitor your blood sugar levels
“What gets measured gets managed.”
Measuring and monitoring blood glucose levels can also help you better manage your levels.
For example, keeping track helps you determine whether you need to make adjustments in meals or medications (31Trusted Source).
It will also help you find out how your body reacts to certain foods (42, 43Trusted Source).
Try measuring your levels every day and keeping track of the numbers in a log.
9. Get enough quality sleep
Getting enough sleep feels excellent and is necessary for good health (44Trusted Source).
Poor sleeping habits and a lack of rest can also affect blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity. They can increase appetite and promote weight gain (45Trusted Source, 46Trusted Source).
Sleep deprivation decreases the release of growth hormones and increases cortisol levels. Both of these play an essential role in blood sugar management (44Trusted Source, 45Trusted Source, 46Trusted Source).
Furthermore, adequate sleep is about both quantity and quality. It’s best to get a sufficient amount of high quality sleep every night (47Trusted Source).
10. Eat foods rich in chromium and magnesium
High blood sugar levels and diabetes have also been linked to micronutrient deficiencies (48, 49, 56Trusted Source).
Examples include deficiencies in the minerals chromium and magnesium.
Chromium is involved in carb and fat metabolism. It also helps regulate blood sugar levels. A lack of chromium may predispose you to carb intolerance (48, 49, 50Trusted Source).
However, the mechanisms behind this are not entirely known. Studies also report mixed findings.
Some studies of people with diabetes showed that chromium had benefits for long-term blood sugar management. However, the alternate has also been found (51Trusted Source, 52Trusted Source, 53Trusted Source, 54Trusted Source).
Chromium-rich foods include:
whole grain products
Magnesium has also been shown to benefit blood sugar levels, while magnesium deficiency has been linked to a higher risk of developing diabetes (48, 55Trusted Source, 56Trusted Source).
Studies have linked individuals with the highest magnesium intake with up to a 47% lower risk for developing type 2 diabetes (57).
However, if you already eat plenty of magnesium-rich foods, you probably will not benefit from supplements (58Trusted Source).
Magnesium-rich foods include:
dark leafy greens
squash and pumpkin seeds
11. Try apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has many health benefits.
It promotes lower fasting blood sugar levels, possibly decreasing its production by the liver or increasing its use by cells (59Trusted Source, 60Trusted Source, 61).
Furthermore, studies show that vinegar significantly influences your body’s response to sugars and can help improve insulin sensitivity (61, 62Trusted Source, 63Trusted Source, 64Trusted Source, 65Trusted Source, 66Trusted Source).
It may be mixed in a few ounces of water that you can drink before a high carb meal or be mixed in salad dressing (67, 68Trusted Source).
However, it’s essential to talk with your doctor before taking apple cider vinegar if you’re already taking medications that lower blood sugar.
12. Experiment with cinnamon extract
Cinnamon is known to have many health benefits.
It’s been shown to improve insulin sensitivity by decreasing insulin resistance at the cellular level (69Trusted Source, 70Trusted Source).
Studies show cinnamon can also lower blood sugar levels by up to 29% (71Trusted Source, 72Trusted Source, 73Trusted Source).
It slows the breakdown of carbs in the digestive tract, which moderates the rise in blood sugar after a meal (74Trusted Source, 75Trusted Source).
However, there are risks involved if you take too much cinnamon.
13. Try berberine
Berberine is the active component of an herb used in traditional Chinese medicine, including treating diabetes (76Trusted Source).
Berberine has been shown to help lower blood sugar and enhance carb breakdown for energy (77Trusted Source, 78Trusted Source, 79Trusted Source).
What’s more, berberine may be as effective as some blood-sugar-lowering drugs. This makes it one of the most effective supplements for those with diabetes or prediabetes (77Trusted Source, 80Trusted Source).
However, many of the mechanisms behind its effects are still unknown (79Trusted Source, 81Trusted Source). More high-quality studies are needed to determine its safety and effectiveness.
Additionally, it may have some side effects, such as:
Speak with your healthcare provider first if you’re considering using berberine.
15. Maintain a Moderate Weight
It’s a no-brainer that maintaining a moderate weight will help improve your health and may help prevent future health problems.
Weight management also promotes healthy blood sugar levels and has been shown to help reduce your risk for developing diabetes.
Even a 7% reduction in body weight can decrease your risk for developing diabetes by up to 58%, and it seems to work even better than a common diabetes medication (87Trusted Source).
What’s more, these decreased risks can be sustained long term (88Trusted Source, 89Trusted Source, 90Trusted Source).
It’s important to monitor your waistline, as it’s perhaps the most crucial weight-related factor for estimating your diabetes risk.
A measurement of more than 35 inches (88.9 cm) for women and more than 40 inches (101.6 cm) for men is associated with an increased risk of developing insulin resistance, high blood sugar levels, and type 2 diabetes (91).
Having a healthy waist measurement may even be more important than your overall weight (91)
The bottom line
Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider before making lifestyle changes or trying new supplements.
This is particularly important if you have problems with blood sugar management or if you’re taking medications to lower blood glucose levels.
If you have diabetes or have blood sugar management problems, it’s important to work with your healthcare provider to create and start a treatment plan as soon as possible