We’ve all been there: you reach for a candy bar or leftover pizza to get you through the final stretch of the workday. And while you experience a quick boost in energy, unfortunately it’s short-lived; flash-forward moments later and you’re feeling it hard – fatigued, hungry and downright moody.
This well-known scene is the result of a blood sugar crash – when blood sugar levels are out of whack and you’re faced with a drop in energy levels after eating a large serving of carbs. (Think: pizza, ice cream, or leftover Halloween candy).
While we all may experience blood sugar crashes now and then, the goal is to maintain a healthy blood sugar level the majority of the time – to help prevent the dreaded crashes and other more serious health issues that may arise.
The good news: there are many changes you can make through diet and lifestyle to maintain healthy levels and take charge of your health before things get out of hand.
In this week’s Vibrant Health blog, we’re covering the ins and outs of blood sugar, why it’s important to maintain healthy levels, and health & lifestyle tips you can do at home to control your blood sugar levels.
What is Blood Sugar, Anyway?
Also known as glucose, blood sugar is the primary sugar found in our body. It’s sourced from the food you consume, and acts as the body’s key source of energy.
Bottom line: blood sugar is a good thing and necessary for the body to run properly, but we never want those levels to dip too low or creep too high as that’s when problems can arise.
Why It’s Important to Maintain Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
With that said, it’s important to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. A high blood sugar level – or hyperglycemia – is often associated with health issues like diabetes, but can also occur from stress, overeating and lack of exercise. Some may also experience symptoms of hypoglycemia, when blood sugar levels drop too low – causing fatigue, irritability, irregular heart rate and other health issues.
So what’s the optimal blood sugar range, anyway? According to the CDC, general blood sugar targets are 80-130 mg/dL before a meal, and less than 180 mg/dL two hours after starting a meal. Your doctor may test your levels at your annual physical, and if you’re diabetic or pre-diabetic you can work with your doctor to track levels with a home glucose monitor.
Health & Lifestyle Tips for Controlling Blood Sugar Levels
- Get Moving
- Give Yourself a Mindful Moment Through Meditation
- Keep an Eye on Your Stress Levels
- Notice How Your Body Reacts to Caffeine
- Maintain a Healthy Weight
- Incorporate More Quality, Whole Foods into Your Diet
- Practice Portion Control Throughout the Day
- Reduce Simple Carbohydrates & Mange Your Sweet Tooth
- Pay Attention to Hormone Changes
- Pack On the Probiotics
- Power Up with Vegetables
- Check in with Your Healthcare Provider
- Get Moving
We already know exercise is good for our health, and research shows that simply incorporating more regular exercise into your day can help maintain healthy blood sugar and insulin levels. In fact, long-term exercise has even been associated with decreased risk of type 2 diabetes. Time to get moving!
2. Give Yourself a Mindful Moment Through Meditation
If you need another reason to slow down and take a break, here it is:
Meditation not only helps you de-stress but can also help control blood sugar levels. Win, win.
One study with a group of 60 Coronary artery disease (CAD) patients found a significant drop in blood sugar levels in those who incorporated a meditation practice into their lifestyle. Go ahead; take a mindful moment for yourself!
3. Keep an Eye on Your Stress Levels
Speaking of meditation, it’s about time you get your stress levels under control once and for all – as being stressed out can be a culprit for high blood sugar levels.
Work on reducing your stress as much as possible and consider incorporating yoga – which has been proven to significantly reduce stress and blood glucose levels. Namaste!
4. Notice How Your Body Reacts to Caffeine
You love your daily coffee fix, but does it love you right back? Check in with yourself, and begin to pay attention to how your body reacts to caffeine. While you may handle it just fine, some are extremely sensitive to caffeine – and its effect on their blood sugar. Consider skipping that second or third cup, or removing it altogether to notice how you feel.
5. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Your risk of developing prediabetes (which can lead to type 2 diabetes if untreated) can go up if you’re overweight. That’s exactly why weight management is a key component of diabetes prevention.
Work to maintain a healthy weight for your body type through diet and exercise! You can easily calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI) here to see if you may need to shed a few pounds.
6. Incorporate More Quality, Whole Foods into Your Diet
Diet is also a major game changer in controlling blood sugar levels – and ultimately reducing your risk of developing health issues. Be sure to include a variety of quality, whole foods into your diet like leafy greens, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds, meats and fish.
It’s also important to get enough protein, which can help lower blood glucose levels in those with type 2 diabetes, while improving overall blood sugar control.
7. Practice Portion Control Throughout the Day
Speaking of maintaining a nutrient-rich diet, you may also want to practice healthy portion control and be careful not to skip meals – both of which can cause your blood sugar levels to be out of whack.
Consider eating smaller more regular meals throughout the day, and incorporating healthy snacks like some apple paired with nut butter or cheese.
8. Reduce Simple Carbohydrates & Manage Your Sweet Tooth
If pasta, pizza and baked goods are your go-to comfort foods, you may want to consider cutting back – or at least thinking of switching to a healthier substitution.
According to the American Diabetes Association, processed carbs from refined grains and added sugar can wreak havoc on blood sugar levels. That being said, it’s best to opt for fiber-rich foods like beans, legumes, fruits like apples, and whole grains – which can improve digestion and lower blood sugar. Win, win!
9. Pay Attention to Hormone Changes
If your blood sugar levels are suddenly creeping up, hormone changes could be to blame.
If you’re currently pregnant, you’ll want to work with your provider to keep a closer eye on blood sugar levels to rule out gestational diabetes – a condition that affects nearly 10% of pregnant women in the U.S. The good news is gestational diabetes is often temporary, and can typically be controlled through diet and lifestyle changes with the support of your doctor.
10. Pack On the Probiotics
You know we love our probiotics over here at Vibrant Health, and it turns out they’re not just beneficial for gut health. In fact, studies have found that probiotic consumption can significantly reduce fasting glucose levels – ultimately improving glycemic control.
11. Power Up with Vegetables
Power up with veggies! Research shows that consuming vegetable powder may help control diabetes and overall glycemic responses. Lucky for you, many of our Vibrant Health powders – like our signature Green Vibrance – are packed with veggies like zucchini, carrot, broccoli and spinach leaf powder.
12. Check in with Your Healthcare Provider
At the end of the day, if you feel that something is off it’s important to get a professional opinion. Book an appointment with your healthcare provider to get your levels tested and/or come up with a plan that works for you.
DISCLAIMER: This information is not intended as a substitute for advice provided by a competent health care professional. You should not use this information in diagnosing or treating a health problem. No claim or opinion in this blog is intended to be, nor should be construed to be, medical advice. If you are now taking any drugs, prescribed or not, or have a medical condition, please consult a competent physician who is aware of herb/drug interactions before taking any herbal supplements. The information presented herein has not been evaluated by the FDA or the Department of Health and is not intended to diagnose, prevent, cure, mitigate or treat any disease or illness.