Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t produce or use enough insulin – a hormone that absorbs glucose into cells to be used up as energy. Hyperglycemia (the medical term for high blood sugar levels) can damage blood vessels, increasing the risk of a stroke.
Gudrun Jonsson, dietary advisor to Nibble Protein – creators of low-GI snacks – and author of international bestseller Gut Reaction, shared her knowledge on seven natural ways to bring that blood sugar reading right down, one of these being to drink water.
1. Drink water
Detailing how the body can misread dehydration as hunger signals, due to “the same part of the brain regulating both hunger and thirst”, Gudrun said: “Water is the perfect beverage to help combat high blood sugar levels as it has no calorific value and zero additives.
“Drinking more water will help your kidneys flush out the excess sugar in your system through urine.”
Diabetes UK note that urinating too frequently can indicate blood sugar levels are currently too high.
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“Exercising regularly helps increase insulin sensitivity,” Gudrun begins.
“Making your body more efficient at processing sugar, and making sure the sugar in your bloodstream is used for energy to feed your muscles rather than being stored as triglyceride fat molecules.”
Heart UK – the cholesterol charity – add: “High triglyceride levels are known to contribute to our risk of developing heart and circulatory disease, and very high triglyceride levels can cause serious medical conditions such as pancreatitis.”
3. Choose low-GI foods
Diabetes UK explains how the “glycaemic index (GI) tells us whether a food raises blood glucose levels quickly, moderately or slowly” – which is useful when managing diabetes.
“The GI index runs from 0 to 100,” adds the charity. “Slowly absorbed carbohydrates have a low GI rating (55 or below).
“Research has shown that choosing low-GI foods can particularly help manage long-term blood glucose levels in people with Type 2 diabetes.”
Echoing Diabetes UK, Gudrun stated: “Eating food on the low end of the GI has been shown to lower blood sugar levels.
“Unfortunately, lots of the sweet treats we crave are high GI, so switching these for healthier
options can help.
“Try Nibble Protein’s Brownie Bites which are made with dried plum puree as opposed to dates, meaning they’re far lower in sugar which can help to stabilise your blood sugar.”
4. Get more sleep
Gudrun asserted: “Studies have shown that when we are fatigued our blood sugar levels are higher.”
“Feeling tired makes us more likely to crave fast-releasing energy-rich food that are high in sugar, which only makes our blood sugar levels higher, putting us at an even greater risk of high blood sugar levels.
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“The only way to prevent high blood sugar levels through lack of sleep is to sleep more.
“Practices such as meditation and a digital detox before going to bed are great ways to help the mind and body prepare for a restful night.”
5. Cut down on carbs
Although “carbohydrates are an essential macronutrient to healthy nutrition”, Gudrun advised people with type 2 diabetes to “keep track of how many carbohydrate-rich foods you eat throughout the day and see where you can swap them for other fibre-rich alternatives”.
6. Increase fibre intake
Gudrun recommends eating “fibre-rich foods, such as green beans”, as it “ help our bodies slow down the absorption of sugar”.
She said: “Fibre helps prevent the so-called sugar rushes and fluctuations in energy levels that our bodies go through when we digest sugar-rich foods, because it doesn’t use insulin in the digestion process and is a slow release energy source.”
7. Don’t be afraid of fat
Gudrun’s final recommendation to naturally lower blood sugar levels is not to avoid fat.
She advised: “Fat helps slow down the speed at which carbs are turned into sugar.
“Dipping your bread in a bit of olive oil is not only more satiating, but it requires your body to work a bit harder to digest it, so it reduces the blood sugar spike.”
All seven tips combined should help people with type 2 diabetes to manage the condition.
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