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Health FORUM

Feb 7, 2017

High blood sugar-


Edited: Jun 2, 2018

How to Maintain Normal Blood Sugar

Most of the habits that help us maintain healthy, normal blood sugar levels are fairly obvious and simple to carry out. However, some might also surprise you, especially if you think it will be tough to start managing your blood sugar better.

Small changes in your diet, exercise routine and sleep schedule can wind up making a big difference when it comes to blood sugar management. Let’s look at some of the best ways to help get you on the right track to reaching and maintaining normal blood sugar levels for life.

1. Eat a Low-Processed, Anti-Inflammatory Diet

A healthy diet is key to blood sugar management and preventing or treating diabetes. It’s not that you must avoid consuming any carbohydrates or sugar when trying to maintain normal blood sugar — just that you need to balance them out with protein/fats, and focus on getting them from real, whole foods. Eating a source of protein, fiber and healthy fat with all of your meals can help stabilize blood sugar, especially when you consume carbs/sugar (such as starchy veggies like potatoes, fruit or whole grains). These slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, help manage your appetite, and are also important for your metabolism and digestion.


  • Some of the best protein foods for managing blood sugar include: wild fish such as salmon, free-range eggs, grass-fed beef or lamb, raw dairy products (including yogurt, kefir or raw cheeses), and pasture-raised poultry

  • Healthy fats include: virgin coconut oil, MCT oil, extra virgin olive oil, nuts and seeds (like almonds, chia, hemp and flax), and avocado. Coconut oil, ghee and grass-fed butter are all some of my favorite fat-burning foods for managing blood glucose levels while also improving the taste and filling quality of your meals.

  • High-fiber foods include: fresh veggies, whole pieces of fruit (not juice), sprouted beans or peas, and ancient grains. Some of my favorite foods especially high in fiber are artichokes, green leafy vegetables, chia seeds, flaxseeds, apples, pumpkin seeds, almonds, avocado and sweet potatoes.

  • According to an article in Diabetic Living magazine, other foods and drinks that make great additions to a blood-sugar-stabilizing diet include apple cider vinegar, cinnamon, green tea, herbal teas, fresh herbs and spices. (3)

2. Switch Up Your Carbs & Sweeteners

While all types of added sugars are capable of raising blood sugar levels, some sources of sugar/carbs affect blood glucose levels more so than others. When you use appropriate amounts sparingly, natural/unrefined, ideally organic sugar sources (such as those from fruit or raw honey) are less likely to contribute to poor blood sugar management than refined sugars (such as white cane sugar or refined products made with white/bleached wheat flour).

To help sustain normal blood sugar, check ingredient labels carefully, since sugar can be listed under dozens of different names.


  • Skip anything made with refined flour (also called wheat flour or “enriched flour”) and added sugars, such as beet sugar/beet juice, cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, fructose and dextrose.

  • Instead choose natural sweeteners, including raw honey, organic stevia, dates, pure maple syrup or blackstrap molasses.

  • Most importantly, still watch your portion sizes, using only a small amount per day of even natural sweeteners (such as one to three teaspoons daily).

  • When it comes to grain-flour products, it’s best to consume grains in their whole form whenever possible as opposed to in flour form, which tends to spike blood sugar more. But if you must use flour, choose those made with 100 percent whole grains, or else try coconut flour or almond flour for an even healthier option.

  • In terms of beverages, stick with water, seltzer, herbal tea or black tea, and coffee. Coffee is best in moderation, meaning one to two cups daily, especially compared to sweetened drinks, juices or soda. (4)

  • Keep in mind that alcohol can also raise blood sugar, especially if you consume sweetened alcoholic drinks (such as certain dessert/fortified wines, sherries, liqueurs, mixed drinks with juice and ciders). (5)

3. Get Regular Exercise

You’re probably already aware that there are literally dozens of benefits associated with exercise. According to the National Diabetes Association, exercise manages blood sugar in more than one way. Short-term exercise helps cells in your muscles to take up more glucose in order to use it for energy and tissue repair, therefore lowering blood sugar in the process. Long-term exercise also makes cells more responsive to insulin and helps prevent resistance. (6)

Doing about 30–60 minutes of exercise most days of the week (such as running, cycling, swimming and lifting weights) is also a simple, beneficial way to lower inflammation, manage stress, improve immunity and balance hormones. Insulin sensitivity is increased, so your cells are better able to use any available insulin to take up glucose during and after activity.

4. Manage Stress

Excessive stress can actually cause blood sugar levels to rise due to an increased release of the “stress hormone” cortisol. Stress kicks off a vicious hormonal cycle for many people. It not only contributes to high blood sugar by raising cortisol, but also tends to increase cravings for “comfort foods” (many of which are refined and filled with sugar or other inflammatory ingredients) and often interferes with getting good sleep. (7)

All around, dealing with high amounts of stress makes it less likely that people will take good care of themselves and keep up with healthy habits that contribute to normal blood sugar. For example, skipping workouts and drinking more alcohol and caffeine are both common among chronically stressed adults. These self-destructive habits contribute to even more stress, which interferes with blood sugar management even more. It’s no wonder that people who develop health problems like diabetes or heart disease, or even who wind up gaining a lot of weight and facing obesity, tend to feel more depressed and hopeless but find it hard to break the cycle and develop new habits.

What are some ways you can help deal with the inevitable stresses that occur in life? Studies have found that natural stress relievers, including exercise, yoga, meditation and using relaxing essential oils for anxiety (such as lavender, rose and frankincense) are all helpful for diabetics and those with insulin resistance. (8) Other ways to wind down include spending more time outdoors, joining groups in your community, and connecting with family and friends more.

5. Get Enough Rest

Being well-rested is crucial for maintaining a healthy outlook on life, sticking with healthy habits and even managing hormone levels. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 35 percent of Americans report getting less than the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night, raising their risk for numerous health problems, including type 2 diabetes. (9) A lack of sleep can raise stress and appetite hormones (like cortisol and ghrelin, which make you hungry), making it harder to void sugary snacks, refined grain products and caffeine overdose.

Sleep and metabolic processes are linked in several key ways, and research shows our natural circadian rhythms can trigger high blood glucose or raise the risk for diabetes when they’re disturbed. Sleeping too little, getting poor quality sleep or sleeping at the wrong times can impair insulin secretion even if you don’t change your diet.

Aim to get between seven to nine hours of sleep per night, ideally by sticking with a normal sleep/wake schedule — in order to balance hormones, curb stress responses, and have enough energy to exercise and keep up with your day.

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Try an Elimination Diet Doctors are sometimes hesitant to attribute a patient’s symptoms to gluten intolerance when they can be caused by other disorders, so sometimes the patient needs to take matters into her own hands. Following an elimination diet is really the best way to test your own personal reaction to gluten. The results of an elimination diet help pinpoint which of your symptoms can be attributed to gluten and let you know whether or not it’s time to go gluten-free . An elimination diet involves removing gluten from the diet completely for a period of at least 30 days (but preferably longer, such as three months) and then adding it back in. If symptoms improve during the elimination period and then reappear once gluten is eaten again, that’s a clear sign that gluten was contributing to the symptoms. However, it’s very important to test only one variable at a time (gluten) and not several (such as dairy, gluten and sugar) because this can cause you to falsely attribute symptoms. B. Follow a Gluten-Free Diet Once you do an elimination diet/gluten challenge and can determine if, and how drastically, you are intolerant to eating gluten-containing foods, you’ll know how important it is for you to follow a gluten-free diet . If you have a serious reaction to gluten when you add it back into your diet after the elimination period, you might want to get tested for celiac disease to know whether you need to avoid 100 percent of gluten indefinitely. If you’re sure you don’t have celiac disease, you should still plan avoid gluten as much as possible in order to prevent gut irritation, further digestive issues and ongoing symptoms. A gluten-free diet is one without wheat, rye and barley . This means you must avoid most baked products found in stores, flour-containing foods (like pizza or pasta at restaurants), the majority of packaged foods (bread, cereals, pastas, cookies, cakes, etc.) and some types of alcohol, including beer. Check ingredient labels carefully since gluten is hiding in many packaged foods. If you don’t have celiac disease, it’s likely that occasionally eating gluten-containing foods won’t cause long-term damage or serious health concerns, but you’ll feel better and get more accustomed to a gluten-free diet the longer you stick with it. With gluten out of the picture, focus on including more anti-inflammatory foods in your diet to repair your digestive system and heal any nutrient deficiencies. These include organic animal products, raw dairy products, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and probiotic foods . When it comes to baking, try some of these naturally gluten-free flour alternatives over wheat flour: Brown rice Sweet potato Quinoa Almond flour Coconut flour Chickpea flour What if your symptoms don’t improve when you remove all sources of gluten? Keep in mind that gluten isn’t the only thing that can cause digestive issues . Conventional dairy products, nuts, shellfish and eggs can also cause sensitives or be a source of food allergies . Many foods containing FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols) have also recently been tied to digestive issues, including IBS symptoms. Some researches even suspect that for certain people, FODMAPs are the real culprit component for NCGS in wheat products, instead of simply gluten. C. Consider Having Tests Done Researchers believe that patients who test negative for two main genes that are associated with celiac disease (HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8) are also significantly less likely to have gluten intolerance or NCGS. If celiac disease or gluten intolerance runs in your family, you might want to speak to your doctor about testing for these genes, as well as antibodies that can reveal how active your immune system is. Remember that celiac disease is an autoimmune disease and will show high levels of certain antibodies (including transglutaminase autoantibodies or autoimmune comorbidities), but this might not be true for people with a gluten intolerance — or the antibody levels could be less severe. Either way, knowing for sure where you stand can be helpful if you’re more susceptible to having reactions to gluten than the average person. Other tests to consider include a zolulin test (also called a lactulose test) and a IgG food allergy test. These types of leaky gut tests  can indicate if gluten (or parasites, candida yeast and harmful bacteria) is causing gut permeability. Zolulin controls the size of the openings between your gut lining and your bloodstream, so high levels indicate permeability. Over time, if the gut lining continues to become permeable, “microvilli” (tiny cellular membranes that line the intestines and absorb nutrients from food) can become damaged, so knowing the severity of your condition can be important for stopping the problem from getting worse. But Aren’t Some Gluten-Containing Whole Grains (Including Whole Wheat) Healthy? For decades, there has been a growing emphasis on whole grains in the American diet. We’ve always been told that they are full of fiber , nutrients and should be consumed multiple times every day. There’s a few reasons why this is true: They are cheap to produce, shelf-stable, can easily be shipped and stored, and are used to make various processed products that have a big profit margin. All things considered, the nutrient density for grains is pretty low, especially when you consider the bioavailability of their nutrients. Many of the vitamins or minerals that are present in grains cannot actually be utilized by the body because of the presence of antinutrients, including gluten, described earlier. While whole grains are a part of some of the healthiest diets in the world (like the Mediterranean diet ), they’re also usually balanced by plenty of nutrient-dense foods including healthy fats (like beneficial olive oil ), vegetables, protein and fruit. Grains can certainly play their role in a balanced diet, but overall they are somewhat of a suboptimal food source when compared to more nutrient-dense foods like grass-fed animal products, fish, vegetables, fruits, seeds and nuts. Therefore, having them less often than other sources of carbohydrates (like starchy veggies or fruit, for example) is a smart idea. Even grains that don’t contain gluten — like corn , oats and rice — do have proteins that are similar in structure to gluten. So even these can cause an immune response in some people. Many people feel better without any gluten, grains or legumes in their diets, but they wouldn’t even know this because they have never experienced an extended period of time without eating these foods. If you’re mostly healthy and do choose to eat grains, try to focus on eating gluten-free grains like rice, gluten-free oats , buckwheat , quinoa and amaranth . It’s also a good idea to properly prepare grains (especially types that contain gluten) by soaking, sprouting and fermenting them. Sprouting grain helps improve nutrient bioavailability, reduces the presence of gluten and other inhibitors, and makes them more digestible. Look for sourdough or sprouted grain breads (like Ezekiel bread ) ,  which are better tolerated than ordinary wheat-flour breads.