3 Expert-Backed Ways To Support Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
You've probably experienced the frustrations of blood sugar dips or spikes (think that hangry feeling you get if you're overdue for lunch, or mood swings after eating too many sweets). Annoyance aside, chronically high or low blood sugar levels can actually take a toll on your overall health.
In fact, neglecting to maintain healthy, steady blood sugar levels may lead to hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). As a result, you may experience negative side effects such as fatigue, cravings, weight gain, mood swings, headaches, and more.
What's even more concerning: A shocking one-third of Americans have prediabetes (higher than normal blood sugar levels), but 90% of them don't know it yet.
The good news: Experts have a few tips for how to support healthy blood sugar levels on a daily basis, to support your overall health and well-being:
1. Be mindful of high-glycemic foods.
Maintaining an overall healthy, balanced diet is one of the first steps to keeping consistent blood sugar levels. That said, even when you're eating nutritious foods, it's important to keep the glycemic load of your diet in mind. To do so, you need to be mindful of the glycemic index—a scoring system that classifies foods by their impact on blood glucose response—of your foods in mind.
"The key to understanding blood sugar is to understand what spikes insulin, which is high-glycemic foods," says Leah Johansen, M.D., a board-certified family medicine physician who specializes in functional medicine. "Stressing what are high-glycemic foods versus low-glycemic is the true key to blood sugar balance."
For reference, high glycemic foods include refined carbs, potatoes, and even watermelon, while foods like leafy greens, quinoa, and apples fall in the low-glycemic range.
2. Incorporate a greens powder.
Finally, a greens blend powered by organic sea veggies to support healthy immune function.*
In addition to low-glycemic fruits and veggies, as part of your balanced diet, it's important to include plenty of fiber and a variety of macronutrients.
"Getting enough fiber each day is essential for healthy blood sugar levels," says Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, nutrition expert and author of Smoothies & Juices: Prevention Healing Kitchen. "Adults should get 25 to 35 grams each day, but most of us fall short. If you spread it out to five meals (including snacks) a day, that's 5 grams of fiber per meal."
However, if you're struggling to maintain a consistent nutrient intake (fiber or otherwise), one great solution is a greens powder, which includes dried, powdered forms of various vegetables, fruits, and other nutritious ingredients.* One study found that adding a vegetable powder to a high-carbohydrate diet helped buffer the short-term glucose and insulin response.*
mindbodygreen's organic veggies+, in particular, was designed to help support healthy blood sugar. In addition to a number of nutritious leafy greens and veggies, it features a fiber blend of flaxseed and inulin.
"It also provides cinnamon bark, which promotes healthy blood sugar balance by slowing the breakdown of carbohydrates during digestion,*" Jessica Cording, M.S., R.D., CDN, previously told mindbodygreen. In fact, some studies suggest that cinnamon promotes healthy blood sugar by increasing insulin sensitivity, or making insulin more efficient at moving glucose into cells.*
3. Try a fasted workout in the morning.
Regular exercise can be a helpful way to support healthy blood sugar levels. Your muscles need glucose for fuel, so when you crank out a Pilates or strength workout, blood sugar moves from the bloodstream to the muscles.
As for the optimal time of day to break a sweat? Integrative physician Amy Shah, M.D., recommends first thing in the morning, before you've eaten. "Your body uses up blood sugar overnight," she says. "Once that runs out, it uses liver glycogen (stored sugar)."
According to Shah, that means, when you fast overnight (also referred to as a circadian fast) and do a fasted workout, "you are using up all the glucose in your system, so that when do you start eating again, your body is sensitized to insulin."
So whether blood sugar is already top of mind or you just want to support overall health, these expert-backed tips should help you reach your goals.