High blood sugar, also known as hyperglycaemia, occurs when your body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or efficiently use available insulin. Insulin controls the amount of glucose in your bloodstream and helps store it correctly, so when it’s not doing its job, blood sugar levels rise.
What causes high blood sugar?
High blood sugar is commonly associated with diabetes, but it can also be caused by genetics, increased weight, elevated blood pressure or cholesterol, stress, and injury. If left untreated, hyperglycaemia can damage blood vessels leading to major organs, increasing risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and nerve damage.
If you’ve been told by your GP that your blood sugar levels are too high, they may prescribe medication, but there are also plenty of things you can do yourself to lower your blood sugar.
Our experienced Camden nutritionists have compiled the top five ways to lower your blood sugar below:
After eating carbohydrates, your body converts them into sugar, causing a spike in blood sugar levels. By reducing your carb intake, you can prevent these spikes.
You can also control your blood sugar by adding more fibre into your diet - this slows down the rate your body digests carbs and absorbs sugar. Great examples of high fibre foods are vegetables, pulses, wholegrains, and fruit. As an added bonus, these foods are also rich in chromium and magnesium, which help to regulate blood sugar.
Studies also show that waiting to eat sugary foods until after a meal, or starting off a carb-heavy meal with a salad, will reduce blood sugar spikes.
2. Regular exercise
The effect of exercise on lowering blood sugar is twofold. First, exercise increases insulin sensitivity. This means that during and after exercise, your body uses available insulin more efficiently. Additionally, when your muscles contract during exercise your cells can use glucose for energy directly, lowering your blood sugar.
Remember, the best way to keep your exercise routine consistent is to find an activity that you enjoy! Walking, swimming, yoga, dancing and hiking are all great forms of movement if gym classes aren’t your thing. If you’re unsure where to start and you’d like support from a specialist, we offer one-to-one Clinical Pilates and Reformer Pilates classes, as well as personal training and fitness training from our experienced physiotherapists.
Drinking enough water is great for your health in general, but it will also help your kidneys flush out excess sugar. Carrying a refillable water bottle around with you is a great reminder to keep sipping - just make sure this is filled with water rather than sugary drinks like juice or squash, which will cause a blood sugar spike.
4. Reduce stress
When you’re under stress, your body releases hormones to prepare it for a ‘fight or flight’ response, increasing blood sugar levels to give you energy. If you’re under stress for prolonged periods, this alone can be enough to keep blood sugar levels elevated.
What relaxes you? Try to incorporate more of these things into your life – this might be candlelit baths, walks in nature or conversations with friends. If in doubt, yoga and meditation are a great place to start.
5. Get enough sleep
Not only is enough sleep vital for our physical and mental wellbeing in general, but it can have a direct effect on blood sugar levels. Lack of sleep can reduce insulin sensitivity and increase levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that increases blood sugar.
Here at Guy Gold’s, we advocate taking a proactive approach to your health. If you’re struggling to make regular exercise a part of your routine, why not book a session with our movement specialists, who can help you make movement work for you.
If you’d like help with any aspect of your diet – weight loss or gain, avoiding illness, gut and digestive issues, migraine, inflammation or autoimmunity, or anything else diet-related – you can book a nutrition consultation in Camden with our resident nutrition expert Mary O’Leary.