How do you Lower Glucose Levels?

How do you Lower Glucose Levels?

In today’s post, we’ll look at how to lower blood glucose levels (known as blood sugar) in a practical way, without going into pharmacotherapy.

Glucose is an essential molecule for life.

So essential that our body has various ways of synthesising it without having to ingest it, ensuring that our cells can always make use of of it (especially some particularly glucose-dependent cells).

It is paradoxical that this molecule, basic in all vital processes, has been complicating our existence so much in recent decades. Maintaining normal blood glucose levels is increasingly difficult for a sedentary and sweet-addicted population.

Risks of having high glucose levels

The medical community is very clear about the deadly effects of chronic hyperglycaemia, that is, of maintaining high glucose levels most of the time.

This hyperglycaemia maintained over time has negative repercussions on almost all organs and systems, but to simplify the matter we’ll talk about macrovascular (affecting large vessels) and microvascular (affecting small vessels) complications.

The macrovascular complications of chronic hyperglycaemia are ischemic heart disease (having a heart attack), cerebrovascular accidents (having a stroke) and peripheral arterial disease.

On the other hand, the microvascular complications best known are diabetic retinopathy, diabetic nephropathy and diabetic neuropathy.

Fortunately, years of chronic exposure to hyperglycaemia are needed for these complications to develop.

Glucose Levels

This said, something basic needs to be clarified, What blood glucose levels are correct or optimal?

There is no unanimous answer and in the different books and values of laboratories you will find different answers.

  • In general, in a non-diabetic person, fasting blood glucose of between 70 mg/dL and 110 mg/dL is considered normal.
  • In diets that are very restricted in carbohydrates, such as ketogenic day, blood glucose can stabilise at even lower values, such as 60-65 mg/dl, without the person having symptoms of hypoglycaemia.
  • If we are talking about diabetic patients, fasting levels considered normal are between 80 and 130 mg/dL.

Glycaemia is a physiological variable that has remained relatively stable throughout evolution.

This is because food availability, which “destabilise” it, has been rather scarce until we became farmers.

Without a doubt, our current lifestyle and diet is making glycemic variability the highest it’s been in human history, something that is directly affecting us.

So let’s talk about solutions:

How can you reduce high glucose levels?

Reduce sugar consumption

Much of the problem would be solved by reducing what triggers our blood glucose. So easy to understand, and so hard to do.

Why?

Simple sugars are very attractive for our brain, which encodes them as quick and easy energy. It’s no coincidence that the sweet taste is by far the most desired.

In addition, it has a very peculiar impact on the centres that regulate hunger, satiety and the reward pathways of our nervous system.

Making the difficult easy, an excess of sweet in our day to day will make us eat more calories, feel less satiated, look in the future for more sweetness almost instinctively, and fill our glycogen deposits quickly (see section on physical exercise).

The solution, then, you can already imagine.

Reduce sugar consumption

Eliminate soft drinks, sugary dairy products, juices (natural and industrial), smoothies, pastries, energy bars, desserts and flours from your diet.

If it’s sweet, it’s better not to have it.

And yes, we should also at least reduce our sweetener intake, because while they solve the calorie problem, their impact at the level of microbiota and reward centers at the central level is not entirely known (and we have indications that it can be negative in the long term).

Eating foods with a low glycemic index

Although many insist on blaming carbohydrates as the macronutrient culprit of this pandemic of obesity and type 2 diabetes, the reality is that there are foods with a certain amount of carbohydrates that are more than healthy, even in patients with diabetes and obesity.

Take the example of vegetables, which I usually divide into two categories: those that grow above the ground and those that grow below.

  • The ones that grow above tend to have fewer carbohydrates: peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, aubergines, cabbage, etc.
  • While those that grow below tend to have more starches: potato, carrot, beetroot or turnip.

Vegetables (especially those that grow above ground) are foods to include in your diet, due to:

  • The absolute quantity of carbohydrates they contain and in the form they are found;
  • Their low glycaemic index;
  • Their amount of water and fibre; and
  • The presence of other accompanying elements (antioxidants, bioactive compounds).

And what about fruit?

Well, again, although many people insist they are, they really are not the problem. With fruit, you have to make more nuances than with vegetables, because it’s not anything goes.

I wouldn’t recommend to a diabetic or some who is obese to eat 5 bananas a day, or to eat dried fruit.

Fruits and blood glucose levels

However, most fruits (pears, apples, kiwis, oranges, melon, lemon, watermelon, etc.) are suitable for consumption and will not have a great impact on your blood glucose.

Still, I would moderate the consumption of bananas, mangoes, chirimoyas, grapes and dried fruit.

It is worth mentioning that some components of certain fruits have benefits for reducing blood glucose levels; like grapefruits, which have a direct hypoglycaemic effect: Urolytin A, a compound present in grapefruit that protects pancreatic beta cells from cellular apoptosis by increasing autophagy.

Avoiding starches

Another key element that we systematically fail to comply with is to adapt our starch intake to our physical activity and to the physical exercise routine we do regularly.

We have overweight people eating potatoes in their different forms of preparation, pasta, rice, sweet potatoes and flours every day.

On the other hand (and this is the reason for another post) we have athletes worried about eating 100 or 130 grams of rice in the pre-training meal.

The starch sources such as those just mentioned are not negative per se, but they need to be adapted to your individual context.

The glycaemic impact of a plate of rice (white or brown) on a diabetic patient is significant, and unless they are a person with significant physical activity, their glucose levels will remain elevated for longer than desirable.

Glucometer to measure blood glucose levels

This is increasingly easy to check thanks to technologies that allow us to monitor patients’ blood glucose in near real time.

Doing so, we can see the glycemic response of a plate of rice, potatoes or a pizza, and make corresponding decisions to improve the glycemic profile of the patient.

In short, if you are type 2 diabetic or overweight/obese, you will most likely need to reduce your intake of starched foods, which will only provide energy and further fill your glycogen deposits.

Exercise

If there’s one powerful and side-effect-free tool to lower your blood glucose levels, it is physical exercise.

As mentioned above, a “surplus” of ingested glucose is stored as liver and muscle glycogen, which will be available for when the occasion demands its use.

Sadly, in a sedentary society, this occasion does not usually come.

With regards to blood glucose levels, physical exercise:
  • In the short term: is a great hypoglycaemic by driving glucose directly into your muscles for use.
  • Medium term: achieves improved insulin sensitivity, thus making you need less insulin to metabolise a certain amount of glucose.
  • Long-term: improves your cardiorespiratory fitness and functional capacity, making you move more and better.

Exercises to lower glucose levels

All exercise is positive when it comes to lowering glucose levels.

But if you’re to find the optimal, it’s in combining muscle strength exercise with high-intensity interval exercise.

Due to the characteristics of both interventions and the synergies that are established between them, this combination is great for improving your glycemic control.

Exercises to lower glucose levels

So, during your high-intensity workouts your blood glucose will tend to rise, which occurs due to a normal and expected physiological response.

If high intensity is not your thing, look for more a moderate activity and combine it with strength training, either in the same session, or in separate sessions.

Supplements to reduce glucose levels

There are plenty of supplements (in addition to drugs) that can help you improve your glycemic profile.

Most act in one of the following ways:

  • Avoiding or limiting the absorption of sugars and starches: acarbose.
  • Slowing the absorption of sugars: guar gum, xanthan gum, glucomannan, apple fibre or apple cider vinegar.
  • Improving the utilisation of energy substrates: Berberine, Moringa oleifera, chromium picolinate, green tea extract or matcha tea.
  • Avoiding the intake of simple sugars: stevia and other sweeteners.
  • Improving insulin sensitivity: apple cider vinegar, fenugreek root or curcumin extract.

Supplement to reduce blood glucose levels

Berberine by HSN.

Now you have more tools to lower your glucose levels and improve your health.

Until the next post!

Related Entries

  • Did you know about these benefits of Cardiovascular Exercise?
  • Everything you need to know about Diabetes by clicking here.
  • Buy Supplements for Diabetics.
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About Borja Bandera
Borja Bandera
Borja Bandera is a young doctor who focuses on nutrition, exercise and metabolism, he combines his professional activity with his vocational dissemination and research.
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