If you’re feeling less than festive, blood sugar swings may be to blame. The lows can make us feel cranky, craving, and tired. Over time, frequent blood sugar fluctuations can lead to diabetes, a condition Dutch scientists say can increase your risk of depression. But don’t panic: We’ve gathered four simple and effective daily habits that can not only help you lower your blood sugar but also allow you to have fun while doing it. Even better? These tips are both healthy and seasonally appropriate.
To Stop Blood Sugar Spikes: Stir in Cinnamon
Simply adding cinnamon to mulled cider, hot cocoa, coffee, or tea keeps blood sugar balanced all day. Ohio Northern University scientists found that enjoying half a teaspoon of the spice blunted blood sugar spikes. Cinnamon’s cinnamaldehyde enhances activity of GLUT1, a protein that keeps glucose balanced.
To up Magnesium Levels: Nosh on Nuts
Snacking on walnuts or adding them to holiday recipes delivers a payload of magnesium. That’s key since the mineral protects against inflammation and oxidative stress that can throw glucose out of balance. And Japanese scientists say increasing magnesium intake steadies your levels, lowering diabetes risk. Bonus: UCLA researchers found folks who snacked on 1.5 ounces of appetite-taming nuts were better able to lose weight and keep it off than those who snacked on refined carbs.
To Lower Stress: Count Cardinals
Watching the pretty birds at your feeder or the scampering squirrels in your yard is a quick, simple way to lower stress levels. Doing this (or other activities that keep stress at bay) daily helps keep blood sugar steady and reduces the risk of longterm glucose elevations, Australian findings suggest. Researchers say lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol enhances cells’ ability to respond to the blood sugar–balancing hormone insulin.
To Boost Blood Flow: Enjoy a Steamy Soak
Love sinking into a hot bath? Good for you! A recent study in Cardiology Research found doing so for 16 minutes daily lowers risk of elevated HbA1c (a marker of excess blood glucose). Immersing your body in hot water acts like exercise to boost blood flow, which shunts glucose into muscles so it doesn’t build up in the bloodstream and cause levels to spike.
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.