Whether it is exercise, sleep or diet, there are many simple ways to ensure you maintain blood sugar levels at a healthy standard.
What is a Good Blood Sugar Level
Blood sugar, sometimes referred to as glucose, is the main sugar found in our blood. Our body gets glucose in the foods we eat, with certain foods providing us with more glucose than others. Carbohydrates are an example, as the body absorbs and processes glucose in the digestive tract while processing carbohydrates.
The measurement for the amount of glucose in the blood is measured as the “blood sugar level.” Blood sugar levels vary based on many different factors. For instance, your blood sugar levels can vary before and after a meal. These levels also vary from person to person based on other factors like weight, age, health conditions and more.
With so many factors contributing to blood sugar levels, what determines “good” levels can vary significantly depending on your body and health. For the average person, blood sugar levels should be below 100 mg/dL after fasting for at least eight hours.
Following a meal, the normal level rises to account for the newly-absorbed sugar in your blood as your body takes in glucose. At two hours after eating, a normal blood sugar level is 140 mg/dL. Of course, we eat multiple meals throughout the day, so blood sugar levels also vary depending on our eating schedules, with levels tending to be at their lowest in between meals. These “fasting” levels can also vary throughout the day between different meals.
A normal blood sugar level in between meals is anywhere between 70 and 80 mg/dL. However, depending on your age, weight, health and other factors, levels between 60 and 90 mg/dL are also considered normal as well.
What is a Good Blood Sugar Level for Diabetics?
For those with diabetes, blood sugar levels vary greatly depending on age, weight and other factors, however it is crucial for some people with diabetes to regularly monitor their blood sugar levels for any irregularities. If you have diabetes, ask your doctor if you should be checking your blood sugar, how often, and what your “normal” and “danger” ranges should be.
For the average person with diabetes, a normal blood sugar level after at least eight hours of fasting may hover anywhere between 80 to 130 mg/dL. Two hours after the meal, an ideal blood sugar level for seniors with diabetes is anything less than 180mg/dL.
Seniors with diabetes should regularly moderate and check their blood sugar levels if their doctors recommend this. If your blood sugar is too high, then proper steps need to be taken to ensure that you are living your healthiest life.
It is also important to check blood sugar so that it does not get too low. While high blood sugar can cause health problems over time, low blood sugar can be immediately dangerous. As we age, sometimes symptoms of low blood sugar can happen even when the level is closer to 70 or 80, which in other people with diabetes can be “normal.” If you have diabetes, ask your doctor what your normal numbers should be, and tell them if you start feeling those “low blood sugar” episodes (also called “hypoglycemia”), even if the number should be “normal.”
Below, we will explore some of the best ways to naturally lower blood sugar.
Best Exercise to Lower Blood Sugar
For any seniors seeking to lower blood sugar, exercise is a must. And while there is no single way for exercise to lower blood sugar, there are many ways seniors can lower their levels naturally through exercise.
Any form of cardio exercise is great for naturally lowering blood sugar. Walking, running, biking and hiking are all wonderful options for exercise. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), there are two major ways in which exercise works to help lower blood sugar.
First, exercising increases insulin sensitivity. Because of this, your muscle cells are able to better use any insulin to take up glucose during and after exercise. Second, when your muscles contract during physical activity, your cells are able to use up glucose for energy whether insulin is available or not.
However, everyone’s bodies are different, and this is especially true for blood sugar and exercise. For some, the effects of exercise can continue to help moderate blood sugar for 24 hours after exercise. But, for others it can be shorter or longer.
For exercise and blood sugar moderation, get to know your body and see how exercise impacts you. Other factors such as exercise intensity and duration also impact how long exercise can lower blood sugar. Talk to your doctor about if you should monitor your blood sugar when you are increasing your exercise. Sometimes exercise works so well at using up extra glucose that it can bring blood sugar down to levels that make you feel woozy. In that case, you should let your doctor know, and you might be able to decrease your medicines!
Foods That Lower Blood Sugar
Like exercise, diet is especially important for moderating blood sugar levels. Understanding what foods you should incorporate and what foods you should try to avoid are a must for any diet plan. At Iora, we cover an extensive amount of the best foods for diabetics. For our purposes, we will pick a few of our favorite foods that lower blood sugar.
Leafy Green Vegetables
As an essential for any healthy diet, leafy green vegetables are a very nutritious food that lowers blood sugar. Vegetables such as kale, spinach and collard greens make for great, healthy additions to any diet that aims to lower blood sugar.
Whether you choose to cook them or eat them raw, leafy greens contain a number of nutrients and antioxidants that serve to help your body in all sorts of ways. Leafy greens tend to be high in magnesium, which has been shown to help prevent the development of diabetes.
These leafy green foods also contain many antioxidants which aid the body in a number of ways, while also helping to regulate blood sugar to keep you at your healthiest.
Rich in fiber, whole grains make for a necessary addition to any diet or for those seeking to moderate blood sugar. Due to the high fiber content, consuming whole grains makes you feel fuller, causing you to eat less and avoid raising blood sugar levels.
Instead of eating processed “white” grains like pasta, white bread and white rice, look for whole grain alternatives to these products. You can still eat whole grain pastas, cereals and breads while making it a healthier alternative for you as well.
These sweet, nutritious vegetables are superfoods in every sense of the word. Sweet potatoes are loaded with essential nutrients which fuel your body, all while helping to moderate your blood sugar levels.
Like whole grains, sweet potatoes are high in fiber, along with B vitamins, magnesium, potassium and more.
When boiled, sweet potatoes have a low glycemic index (GI) so that your blood sugar levels don’t spike to unhealthy levels. The entire vegetable, skin included, is an incredibly nutritious food, making sweet potatoes an all-around powerhouse vegetable and great addition to your diet.
Hand in hand with exercise and diet, weight loss is a superb way to lower blood sugar naturally. Losing weight leads to many health benefits, both physical and mental. Before we get to the specifics of weight loss, let’s take a look at why weight is a crucial factor for lowering blood sugar naturally.
Excess weight can greatly affect your health in many ways. People who are overweight are at higher risk for heart disease, strokes, diabetes, cancer and depression. Unhealthy eating habits, sedentary lifestyle choices and genetics are all causes of excess weight. This weight leaves your body susceptible to irregular blood sugar levels, making blood sugar harder to control the more excess weight there is.
However, exercising and losing weight significantly reduces all the negative effects of excess weight. Dropping excess weight decreases your chances of developing diabetes by half, and thus makes blood sugar levels much easier to maintain.
However, it does not stop at just losing weight, and even if you haven’t been able to shed those extra pounds, eating healthy food and staying active still improve diabetes control. Keeping up with a healthy lifestyle after weight loss is essential for maintaining blood sugar levels as well. Continue to exercise and make healthy diet decisions to naturally lower blood sugar.
The importance of proper hydration and water intake can never be overstated. Water is the essential fuel that keeps our bodies operating at the best capacity. Proper hydration is essential for the function of our organs, lubrication of joints and the transportation of nutrients around the body.
Drinking water is a great way to naturally lower blood sugar, and contributes to doing so in a couple of ways:
First, by drinking a lot of water you can dilute the amount of glucose in the bloodstream and help your body get rid of extra sugar by urinating it out. Fun fact: your body already tries to get rid of this extra sugar in this way, so if you notice you’ve been urinating a lot, your sugar might be high! In addition to watching what you eat, taking your medicines, and letting your doctor know, be sure to drink plenty of water.
Second, hydration indirectly reduces the body’s insulin resistance. Once again, this happens with proper hydration, so there is no need to drink excessive amounts of water. Staying properly hydrated is enough to reduce your body’s insulin resistance, dilute glucose in the bloodstream and lower blood sugar naturally.
It is incredible how stress can impact the body, including blood sugar levels. People struggling with stress often have many fluctuations in their blood sugar.
When we are stressed, the body stops releasing insulin. Thus, glucose piles up in the bloodstream and raises blood sugar. This is because in the past, stress was a sign to your body that you needed extra sugar to do things like run away from or physically work your way out of a stressful or dangerous situation. In modern times, stress comes from lots of other non-physical places. (Instead of having lions chase us, we have deadlines looming ahead.). Continued stress will only continue the rise of blood sugar levels. To combat this, practicing healthy stress management habits can reap many benefits for your overall health and blood sugar levels.
Although it has been mentioned a few times, exercise is a great way to manage stress. When we exercise, the body’s stress hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol, are reduced. Remember, the raised blood sugar during stress started from the early days of humans needing that sugar for energy. Might as well use it up! It stimulates the release of endorphins, leaving you feeling happy and stress-free while doing something healthy for your body.
Other methods such as meditation, yoga, breathing exercises and relaxation techniques can help to reduce stress. In a fast-paced, ever-changing world, it can be hard to find time for yourself.
However, breathing exercises and meditation can be done in as little as five minutes! To naturally lower blood sugar, and manage your stress, carve out some time in your day for yourself to let go, relax and make use of our tips for better stress management.
Get Proper Sleep
Like stress, poor sleeping habits can lead to issues when it comes to blood sugar. With poor sleep habits, our body’s metabolism begins to slow, which means it’s much more difficult for the body to process glucose.
Because of this, lack of sleep has been directly linked to higher blood sugar levels, and as a result, a higher risk for diabetes. Research has shown that people who sleep six or fewer hours a night have more blood sugar-related issues than people who get eight or more hours of sleep.
If you find yourself in this situation, there are a few effective tips to better sleep you can utilize. The most important step is establishing a bedtime routine. Choose when you want to be in bed, and what things you will need to do to wind yourself down for a good night’s sleep.
Second, ensure that your bedroom is cool, dark and free of noise. People tend to sleep much better when the room is cool and well-ventilated. Fresh air while you sleep is always a good sleep aid.
Lastly, here comes our good old friend, exercise. Studies show that exercising for at least 30 minutes a day can greatly improve sleep quality and reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep. Incorporate a consistent exercise routine to ensure quality sleep and lower blood sugar levels.
At Iora, we work directly with our patients to meet their unique health needs and goals. Our relationship-based care puts the power of health back in the hands of the patient. Together, we work to establish goals and guide our patients on a collaborative journey to better health. We offer plenty of exercise and nutritional classes to educate you on how to naturally lower blood sugar, the best foods for diabetics and more.