Blood sugar levels and our health
I recently had a friend come to me and tell me she was working on reducing her dependence on medications and trying to treat her diabetes in a more natural way, and asked me for any advice I had on what she could incorporate into her diet.
Having a host of things at the top of my head, I figured I would share the ways I know how to reduce blood sugar naturally, (hopefully) help others become less dependent on medications and as a result feel a whole lot better so that they can go on living their best life! After all, isn’t that what we are all aiming for?
High blood sugar can not only cause hyperglycemia and diabetes, but can cause infections, kidney damage, nerve damage, and heart disease, among other very serious conditions. It can often leave you with extreme fatigue. If you are wondering if you may have symptoms of high blood pressure, you can find more information here.
If you are just looking for ways to reduce your sugar intake, this article is also for you!
Note: I am not a doctor and if you are suffering from serious conditions, make sure you consult one.
Sugar, sugar, everywhere!
Sugar seems to be a recurring issue for many of us in the modern world. I mean, it is EVERYWHERE! It is in not only the obvious things like desserts and candies, but already naturally sweetened fruit juices, breads, pastas, even milk! Yes, milk! I am a teacher and I see my students grabbing the small strawberry and chocolate milk cartons that they push on children to drink for breakfast and lunch, and in a small 6 oz carton, there was a WHOPPING 24 GRAMS OF SUGAR. I was SHOCKED! No wonder we have an epidemic of obesity and diabetes.
Another example is when my step-son came home from elementary school almost every week with candy his teachers had given him or told me about cookies they had received for a reward. I am talking about ALL. THE. TIME. As a teacher, I get it. As a mom, I don’t understand how teachers are not thinking about the effects this may have on some kids who really should not be eating this stuff AT ALL.
What this all really comes down to is this: We live in a culture that is so saturated with sugar-laden foods that it is almost like we cannot escape from it.
Things we may not know have lots of sugar
When I speak to some people, they don’t seem to realize how many things that are not particularly sweet but still contain a lot of sugar.
Carbohydrates are, in essence, sugar. When we eat refined carbs (particularly enriched flour products) like white breads, pastas, rice, etc., our bodies break down the sugars so quickly that it requires our insulin system to quickly react. After constant pressure on the system, some people lose the ability to produce insulin on their own in order counteract the high sugar levels.
I did a little research and found the most popular brands of breads are all made with enriched flour, which is so processed that it will spike blood sugar levels very quickly.
A lot of condiments like ketchup and salad dressings contain massive amounts of sugar to make the taste more attractive to many of us who have become so accustomed to everything sweetened. I could not even find pickle relish in the grocery store without high fructose corn syrup! HFCS is a huge contributor to diabetes, obesity and tons of other health conditions and is often found in the most unlikely places.
Reducing sugar intake
If you’re committed to reducing sugar intake, reducing blood sugar and taking back your health, these are the things you must start doing.
Always check ingredient labels and make sure they have no HFCS or added sugars. There are plenty of products that are now available that fit these criteria.
This means everything from store-bought juices and sodas to desserts and breads.
If you are not diabetic or with a serious health condition, you should be safe to allow yourself to have these things every ONCE in a while, but should not be in our daily diets.
Choose whole grain/whole wheat breads and pastas
Look at the ingredients in your bread. If the first ingredient does not say whole wheat or whole grain, then it is going to increase your blood sugar levels a lot faster and a substantial more than if you stick to whole grains. Whole grains are
My favorite bread brands are Ezekial bread (THE most healthy bread you can buy); Dave’s Killer Bread, and Arnold’s whole wheat or whole grain breads.
If you are not a big fan of wheat bread, my recommendation is to toast it and put some quality butter on it.
I LOVE Alma’s organic whole wheat pasta. It has great flavor and I notice a difference in how I feel when I eat it!
White rice also has a higher glycemic index and will spike blood sugar levels as well. Brown, black and red rices still have their casings, which allows the body to digest them more slowly, having less impact on your sugar levels.
Eat the above less frequently and in smaller portions
I tend to believe that we should avoid eating bread, pasta and rice daily. I do NOT, however, subscribe to the KETO diet. Whole grains are important and contain essential nutrients for our bodies. We just don’t need to be eating them at every meal or in the portions we do.
So what does this look like? We should probably not eat sandwiches every day for lunch or eat rice or pasta every day for dinner, ESPECIALLY if we are eating beans with it! Beans are also carbohydrates that can spike sugar levels. All of these items still raise blood sugar levels (albeit more slowly), so if you’re aiming to lower your blood sugar, limiting these things in your diet is important.
Portions of pasta and rice should around half a cup per meal, give or take. Try reducing these carbs while increasing vegetables.
Quinoa is an excellent substitution for rice or pasta. It has a ton of nutritional benefits, loads of fiber as well as a low glycemic index that makes it great for controlling blood sugar. (I love to pair quinoa with red and green bell peppers and black beans.)
Lettuce wraps are a great substitution for bread. The greener the lettuce, the more flavor and nutrients it contains.
Tip: Enjoy whole grain carbs and veggies more by adding your favorite seasonings: my favorite include garlic, paprika, and often cayenne and chili powder.
Substitute sugar with honey
Whether it be for coffee or in recipes, RAW honey is a great substitute to sugar for a few reasons. One, it has a lower glycemic index so it does not spike blood sugar levels as quickly as regular sugar and is easier to digest. Two, raw honey actually has nutritional benefits, unlike many processed honey options and sugar. Three, a small amount of honey goes a long way. This is important because you can use less honey than you would sugar and not sacrifice taste. Beware, however, of using too much honey or the same amount of honey as you do sugar, because it still raises blood sugar and can have negative effects if overused.
Beets, cucumbers, and leafy greens are your best veggies for lowering blood sugar. Try incorporating these into your diet; if you find this to be difficult sometimes, smoothies and homemade juices are a great way to get these in. I may substitute dinner or supplement it on occasion with a homemade juice.
Drink Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a remedy I recommend for almost every type of ailment. It has shown to reduce blood sugar, as well as treat the many digestive issues and other ailments that come from eating a high sugar diet. It is not a taste many prefer, but the health benefits are extensive. Be sure to drink plenty of water after!
Every day and every meal gives you the opportunity to choose more and more healthier options. Substitute that sugary drink with water (even more, infuse it with some fruit or squeeze in some lemon). Change out the white breads and pastas for whole grain options. Choose fruit when you have a craving for high sugar treats. Read ingredient labels. Add more veggies into your life. Sooner than you know it, you will begin to see results!
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What ideas above have helped you to lower blood sugar levels? What else may have helped you? Please share below and spread your knowledge!