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Ever eat a candy bar or a piece of cake and feel the “rush” of a sugar high afterward? You weren’t imagining things. Your blood sugar level spiked, then plummeted, taking your energy and your mood with it.
What most people don’t realize is that this can happen to us without the benefit of having enjoyed that sweet treat.
When your blood sugar is imbalanced for other reasons, it tends to stay that way, and the cost to you in health, productivity, and the ability to enjoy life can be greater than you’d imagine.
There are healthy, natural ways to manage this condition. That’s fortunate because unless you do, diabetes is the next step.
Prediabetes: Don’t ignore this warning sign
With diabetes, the body either does not produce or doesn’t respond to insulin properly, and doesn’t process carbohydrates normally. This results in abnormally high levels of glucose in the blood and urine.
But diabetes doesn’t just appear out of nowhere.
If you’re diagnosed with prediabetes, it simply means that you have higher-than-normal blood sugar levels. But unless the condition is treated, it can set the stage for full-blown type 2 diabetes and all the health complications that go with it.
Prediabetes occurs when your pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin, or when your body becomes resistant to the actions of insulin, or both. This can be triggered by hormonal changes.
Other risk factors for developing prediabetes include:
- Weight – a body mass index (BMI) higher than 25 puts you at risk for prediabetes.
- Lack of physical activity
- Family history of prediabetes or diabetes
- Age – at age 45, your risk begins to rise and rises even more rapidly once you reach 65
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
How do I know my blood sugar is off?
The constellation of symptoms that signal prediabetes is pretty easy to spot:
- Sugar and carb cravings
- Weight gain
- Trouble concentrating
- Mood swings or nervousness
- Dry skin
- Excessive thirst
- Frequent urination
- Slow-healing cuts and bruises
- Blurred vision
- Tingling in hands and/or feet
But despite all these warning signs, most of the one-third of Americans who have prediabetes don’t know it!
Prediabetes is diagnosed with two different blood tests.
Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test.
This test measures the percentage of blood sugar attached to the hemoglobin in your bloodstream over a period of several months.
In general, an A1C level below 5.7 is considered normal. Between 5.7 and 6.4 is considered prediabetic.
Fasting blood sugar test.
A blood sample is taken after fasting for at least eight hours, or overnight. Generally, a fasting blood sugar level below 100 milligrams/deciliter is considered normal and 100 to 125 is considered prediabetic.
Natural ways to lower blood sugar
Eliminate processed foods.
We already know that the chemicals, salt and sugar found in packaged and processed foods are deadly. If you want to stop prediabetes in its track, stick to a diet of whole, fresh foods including a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and fish.
For most people, eliminating harmful foods will be a process. So if you do indulge, read labels carefully and select those with the shortest lists of unpronounceable ingredients and the least sugar and salt.
Fiber slows down the digestion of carbohydrates and the absorption of sugar, producing a more gradual rise in blood sugar after meals.
Eat high-quality protein.
Like fiber, high-quality protein can regulate insulin secretion and help achieve a more gradual rise in blood sugar, rather than a “spike.”
A protein-rich breakfast can set you up for a day of more even blood sugar levels. Never, ever skip breakfast! It will throw your blood sugar off for the rest of the day.
Eat healthy fats.
Several studies have linked the consumption of saturated fat with the prevention of diabetes. Nuts, olive oil, coconut oil, avocados and salmon are all great sources of healthy fats.
Front-load your eating.
Your body becomes more insulin-resistant as the day progresses. That’s why a big dinner is the worst thing you can do for your blood sugar levels.
Instead, try eating a bigger, more nutritious breakfast and ending the day with a smaller dinner at least three hours before bedtime.
Elevated stress levels produce a stream of the stress hormone cortisol. Too much cortisol is bad for blood sugar for two reasons: it raises blood sugar, and leads to weight gain that is one of the biggest predictors of diabetes
Drink lots of water.
Research has found an association between drinking too little and a higher risk of hyperglycemia. Makes sense, since water helps your kidneys flush out excess blood sugar through the urine.
When you’re active, you’re helping to move sugar from the bloodstream to the muscles, where it is burned, not stored.
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- Do You Have Healthy Blood Sugar? Here’s How To Tell + How To Lower It Naturally — mindbodygreen.com
- Low water intake and risk for new-onset hyperglycemia — Diabetes Care
- Effects of Saturated Fat, Polyunsaturated Fat, Monounsaturated Fat, and Carbohydrate on Glucose-Insulin Homeostasis: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomised Controlled Feeding Trials — PLoS Medicine