16 Easy Ways to Stop Blood Sugar Spikes
Blood sugar spikes are what happens when your blood sugar sharply rises then drastically falls after consuming food.
These spikes can make you hungry for more food and lazy in the short term. However, over time, your body can develop insulin resistance, which can lead to type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is a severe health problem that is on the rise in many developed countries. Approximately 29 million Americans have diabetes, and 25% are unaware that they suffer from it.
Another side effect of blood sugar spikes is damage to blood vessels. This happens because of hardening to the vessel walls and can lead to heart disease and stroke.
1. Eat Fewer Refined Carbs
Avoiding refined sugars is a must; these are also known as refined carbs or processed carbs.
Some household sources are table sugar, bread, white rice, candy, soda, most breakfast cereals, and sugary desserts.
These refined carbs are stripped of almost all nutrients, fiber, and minerals.
These carbs and sugars are known to have a high glycemic index because the body quickly and easily digests them. This directly leads to blood sugar spikes.
A large study of 91,000 women found that a diet dominant in high-glycemic-index carbs was associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
When eating high-glycemic-index foods, the spike in blood sugar levels and the subsequent drop that you will experience can also promote hunger and lead to overeating and weight gain.
The glycemic index of food and carbs varies widely. Its index score is dependent on many different variables, including ripeness, the other foods you consume and how the carbs are prepared.
2. Go Low Carb.
Carbohydrates (carbs) are the glucose chains that cause blood sugars to rise.
When you consume carbs, they get broken down into simpler glucose chains. These chains then enter the bloodstream to be transported around the body.
In healthy people, when your blood sugar levels rise, your pancreas will release a hormone called insulin. This allows for the transport of sugar from your bloodstream and into your cells. This reaction causes your blood sugars to drop.
There have been numerous studies showing that consuming a low-carb diet can help reduce blood sugar spikes.
These low-carb diets have the additional benefit of helping weight loss; a reduction in a person's body weight can help stop blood sugar spikes from happening.
There are numerous ways to reduce your carb intake, including sampling as simple as counting carbs.
3. Reduce Your Sugar Intake
On average an American consumes nearly 22 teaspoons (88 grams) of sugar a day. That equates to approximately 350 calories.
While some of this is regular sugar, the majority of it comes from refined and processed sugar, such as soda and candy.
There is no nutritional need for added sugars, such as sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup. They are, nothing more than empty calories.
Your body breaks these simple sugars very rapidly because of their refinement, and this causes an almost immediate spike in blood sugar. While this can be good for someone who is trying to recover from low blood sugar, it is not something that should be a staple in a person’s diet.
Studies show consuming large amounts of refined sugars has a relationship to the development of insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance happens when the cells begin to respond less efficiently to the release of insulin. When this happens the body is no longer able to control blood sugar levels effectively.
4. Watch your Weight
Right now, two out of 3 adults in America are classified as being overweight or obese.
Having weight issues or being obese can make it very difficult for your body to produce enough insulin and use it effectively. When this occurs, it becomes more difficult to keep blood sugar levels in check. This can directly cause blood sugar spikes and put you at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
It is still unclear on the exact ways that this occurs, but the evidence remains that obesity causes insulin resistance and the eventual development of type 2 diabetes.
Weight loss, however, has shown to help with blood sugar level control.
In a study of 35 obese people who lost approximately 14.5 pounds (6.6 kg) over 3 months while they were on a restricted diet of 1,600 calories a day. Saw their blood sugar levels drop by nearly 14%.
5. Work out!
Working out and staying active can drastically improve control over blood sugar spikes by helping to increase your body’s insulin sensitivity.
Being active and exercising more also causes muscle cells to take sugar from the blood for energy, allowing for blood sugar levels to decline.
Both Medium and High-intensity exercise has shown to be beneficial to reducing blood sugar spikes.
A recent study showed similar improvements to blood sugar levels and control in adults who partook in medium or high-intensity workouts.
It is important to note that exercising on a full or empty stomach can have a drastic effect on blood sugar levels.
There have been numerous studies done on this topic, and one happened to show that exercise done before breakfast was much more efficient and controlling blood sugar compared to exercise done after eating breakfast.
Being more active and exercising does have the added benefit of helping with weight loss making this an excellent option when trying to control blood sugar levels.
6. Water, Water, Water!
Being dehydrated from not drinking enough water can lead to blood sugar spikes.
When dehydrated, your body creates a hormone called vasopressin. This hormone encourages your kidneys to retain fluid and keeps them from flushing out excess sugar in your urine.
It then causes your liver to release more sugar into the bloodstream.
One study of 3,615 people showed that those who drank about a liter of water per day were over 21% less likely to develop high blood sugar than people who drank less than half that per day.
A study on 4,742 people in Sweden found that, over the span of 12.6 years, an elevated level of vasopressin in the blood stream was linked to a rise in insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
How much water you should drink is often up for discussion. Primarily, it depends each individual person.
It is a good idea to always make sure you drink when you're thirsty and try to increase your water intake during exercise or hot weather.
It is advised to stick to water rather than sugary juice or sports drinks, since the added sugar they have will contribute to blood sugar spikes.
7. Try some vinegar in your diet.
Vinegar, particularly apple cider vinegar, has shown to have many different health benefits, not just for diabetes.
It has been linked to cholesterol reduction, weight loss, and blood sugar control.
Numerous studies have shown that adding vinegar to your diet regularly can help increase your body’s responsiveness to insulin and reduce blood sugar spikes.
One study concluded that vinegar significantly reduced blood sugar levels in participants who had just ate 50 grams of carbs. this research also showed that the stronger the vinegar, the better its effects on blood sugar.
Another study looking into how vinegar effected insulin sensitivity and found that vinegar helped to increased insulin sensitivity by 19% to 34%.
Adding vinegar to foodstuff can also lower its glycemic index, which can directly help to reduce blood sugar spikes.
8. Eat More Fiber
Fiber is the parts of plant foods that your body ins unable to digest. It is usually broken into two classifications: soluble and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber is the fiber that can help control blood sugar levels.
As the name suggests, it is water-soluble and will form a gel-like substance that can help slow the absorption of carbs and sugar in the digestive system. The direct result of this is a steady rise and fall in blood sugar levels, instead of a spike and drop.
Fiber also helps you feel fuller sooner, helping to reduce your appetite and food intake.
Some fantastic sources of soluble fiber include:
- Some fruits, such as bananas, oranges, and apples
- Most vegetables
9. Make sure you’re getting Chromium and Magnesium
Many studies have shown that both chromium and magnesium have a significant role to play in helping to control blood sugar spikes.
Chromium is a mineral that is needed by the body in very minimal amounts.
Even this amount is more than enough to help improve the body’s reaction to insulin. This quickly could help reduce blood sugar spikes by assisting the cell's ability to absorb sugar out of the bloodstream.
In a small study, 13 healthy men were given 75 grams of white bread that had either chromium or not. This added chromium resulted in approximately 20% decrease in blood sugar levels after the meal.
However, these types of findings on chromium and blood sugar are not always the same. An analysis of 15 studies showed that there was no direct effect of chromium on blood sugar control in otherwise healthy people.
The advisable dietary intakes for chromium can be found here.
Rich food sources include:
- egg yolks
- Brazil nuts
Magnesium is a mineral that has also shown to affect blood sugar levels.
In a study of 48 people, half were given a 600-mg magnesium pill and advice on how to better their lifestyle, while the other half only got the lifestyle advice. The group that was given the supplement showed an increase in blood sugar control.
Another study looked at the effects of supplementing chromium and magnesium on blood sugar levels. They discovered that the combination of the two increased insulin sensitivity more than either supplement alone.
The recommended intakes for magnesium can be found here.
Rich food sources include:
10. Add Some Spice to Your Life
Cinnamon has been used as an alternative medicine for millennia. Several studies have linked it to improvements in blood sugar control.
Even so, the scientific evidence on the usage of cinnamon to control blood sugar levels is mixed.
Cinnamon has shown the ability to increase insulin sensitivity in healthy people and reduce the severity of blood sugar spikes after consuming a carb-heavy meal.
In a recent study of 14 healthy people, the results showed that eating 6 grams of cinnamon with 300 grams of rice pudding drastically reduced the amount of blood sugar spikes, compared to only eating the rice pudding.
Unfortunately, some studies also show cinnamon has very little to no effect on blood sugar levels.
One peer review looked at several high-quality studies in a total of 577 healthy individuals with diabetes. The analysis showed little to no difference in the amount of blood sugar spikes after the participants supplemented cinnamon.
There are two types of cinnamon:
Cassia: Comes from several different species of Cinnamomum trees. This is what you find in many supermarkets.
Ceylon: Comes specifically from the Cinnamomum verum tree. It is oftne more expensive but has shown to contain more antioxidants.
A critical note on the different types of cinnamon: Cassia cinnamon is also know to contain a possibly harmful substance called coumarin.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has set the tolerable daily intake of coumarin at 0.045 mg per pound of bodyweight (0.1mg/kg). This is around half a teaspoon (1 gram) of Cassia cinnamon for a 165-pound (75-kg) person.
A promising property of fenugreek is that the seeds contain large amounts of soluble fiber.
Soluble fiber helps to limit blood sugar spikes by helping to slow down the digestion and subsequent absorption of carbs.
However, research has shown that blood sugar levels can be affected by much more than just the seeds.
In one study, 20 healthy people supplemented powdered fenugreek leaves in water before they consumed a meal. this study found the fenugreek helped to reduced their blood sugar levels post meal by 13.4%, when compared to the placebo.
An analysis of 10 studies showed that fenugreek can significantly reduced blood sugar levels two hours after eating.
Fenugreek shows strong promise in helping with controlling blood sugar levels. It can easily be added to foodstuff; however, it does come with a strong taste that is very similar to maple syrup. This is why many people prefer to ingest it as a supplement.
12. Try Berberine
Berberine is a very promising chemical that is extracted from many different plants.
This chemical has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for many thousands of years. It is often used in cholesterol reduction, blood sugar control, and weight loss.
Berberine helps to reduce sugars produced by the liver and promote insulin sensitivity. It has even been shown to be as effective if not more effective than some of the drugs used for type 2 diabetes.
One study looked at 116 people with type 2 diabetes who were supplemented with berberine or a placebo over three months. It showed that berberine helped to reduce blood sugar spikes post meal by up to 25%.
However, a different study showed berberine caused some adverse side effects in some individuals, such as diarrhea, constipation, and gas.
Although berberine appears to be safe for consumption by most people, speak to your medical practitioner before taking it.
13. Consider Lifestyle Factors
If you want to do something that will reduce the amount of blood sugar spikes you suffer from, look no further than your lifestyle. How you live each day has more of an effect on your health and your blood sugar than anything else. Of course, eating healthy and staying active will help your cause. But changing your habits and adjusting your priorities around how you manage certain things like stress and quality sleep will help you more than you can imagine.
Stress is one of those things that is always present in your life, and it can’t be avoided. But it can and will negatively affect your health; it can cause headaches, increase your blood pressure, and give you anxiety.
Excessive stress has also been shown to affect blood sugar levels. When under increased levels of stress, the body will release certain hormones. The effect is to get the body to release energy reserves in the form of sugar into your bloodstream as part of the activation of the fight or flight response.
A study of 241 Italian workers found increased stress on the job was directly linked to elevated blood sugar levels.
If you can actively address stress levels, it can benefit your entire life, not just your blood sugar levels. This will help to keep blood sugar spikes from happening after eating a meal as well.
Sleeping too little or too much has been linked to poor control of blood sugar levels.
In a study of 4,870 adults with type 2 diabetes, it was shown that those who sell for the longest or the shortest amounts of time had the poorest control over their blood sugar levels. The individuals with the best control of their blood sugars slept between 6.5 and 7.4 hours a night.
Something as simple as having one or two bad nights of sleep can have drastic effects on blood sugar control.
With sleep, quality and quantity are equally important. A study showed that (NREM) the deepest type of sleep was the most important in terms of controlling blood sugar levels.
It is vital to remember that most alcoholic drinks contain a large amount of added sugar. This is especially true for mixed drinks and cocktails, many of which can provide the same if not more sugar than a soda.
This sugar in alcoholic drinks causes blood sugar spikes the same way added sugar in foods and sodas do. Since most alcoholic beverages have almost no nutritional value, along with the added sugars, they are just empty calories. Over time, any heavy drinking can decrease the effectiveness of insulin, which can lead to insulin resistance and the eventual development of type 2 Diabetes, or further complications to someone who already has diabetes.
However, some studies have shown that moderate, controlled drinking can effectively protect the body when it comes to blood sugar control.
The Stark Truth.
Some straightforward dietary changes, such as a low-carb, high-fiber diet and doing all that you can to avoid refined or added sugars, can drastically help you to keep blood sugar levels in control.
By exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and staying hydrated, you can tap into the added benefits that it can bring to your health beyond helping your blood sugar levels remain in check.
For most people with and without diabetes, making these simple dietary and lifestyle changes is a simple way to help keep yourself from developing insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes.
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