If you’re one of the seven in 10 of us trying to keep your blood sugar low and steady to prevent weight gain, tiredness, brain fog, and type 2 diabetes, here’s great news: These surprisingly simple strategies can really help.
Enjoy a warm brew.
Love coffee or green tea? You’re in luck. Just drinking one daily cup of either brew (caffeinated or decaffeinated) slows the release of blood sugar from your liver, cutting type 2 diabetes risk as much as 54 percent. “Coffee and green tea are rich in antioxidants that help your cells maintain insulin sensitivity,” says naturopath Katie Reinholtz, ND.
Indulge in healthy fruit.
Simply eating a serving of fiber-packed berries, grapes, oranges, or apples at each meal helps stop blood-sugar spikes and age-related obesity, significantly lowering your diabetes risk, reports the British Medical Journal. “Their fiber dramatically reduces the impact of sugars you eat, slowing absorption and reducing the sugar spikes that stimulate insulin release,” says Chinese medicine expert Michael C. Gaeta, DAc, MS, CDN.
Skip the soda.
“The greatest source of hidden sugar is not in what you eat, but in what you drink,” says Gaeta, noting that the average American consumes between 120 and 170 pounds of sugar each year. “And much of it often comes from soda.” In addition to throwing your blood-sugar level out of whack, all that sugar accelerates skin aging. “Sugar molecules attach to collagen fibers in your skin, leading to a loss of elasticity, which makes you more likely to develop wrinkles and sagging skin,” explains Adrienne Youdim, MD, of the Center of Weight Loss at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Switch your plates.
Been packing on a pound or two each year? To stop sneaky weight gain from leading to obesity and type 2 diabetes, eat off of salad plates instead of large dinner plates. In one study, that one move led pre-diabetic folks to reduce their food portions enough to cut their type 2 diabetes risk 46 percent.
Take deep breaths.
“Stress can cause blood sugar levels to rise and lead to premature aging,” says Dr. Youdim. “We know that cortisol, a stress hormone, leads to insulin resistance and diabetes,” adds Gaeta. “We also know that conscious relaxation reduces cortisol levels.” His preferred stress reducer: Set your alarm for five minutes. Sitting comfortably upright, breathe in for a count of five and out for a count of five, repeating until your alarm rings. Do twice daily — first thing in the morning and at bedtime.
Consider taking a multi.
Taking a multivitamin that contains 5,000 IU of vitamin A plus 200 mcg. each of chromium and selenium, such as Life Extension’s Two-Per-Day, ($17.25, LEF.com/ww), can heighten your blood sugar control 25 percent. That’s because this nutrient trio is essential for proper function of the sugar-controlling pancreas, European researchers explain.
Try this after-meal trick.
Exercising for 10 minutes after every meal (walking counts!) could boost your blood sugar control 22 percent or more, reports the journal Diabetologia. Blood sugar often rises rapidly after meals — something motion prevents by encouraging your muscles to quickly use carbohydrates for fuel, says study co-author Sheila Williams, PhD.
Curb cravings with fenugreek seeds.
A study in the International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research suggests that consuming 1 tsp. of these seeds (which are a staple in Indian and African cuisine) daily could help steady your blood sugar and relieve hunger pangs and cravings in as little as one week. Fenugreek contains compounds that act like gentle, natural sugar-controlling medications, says study co-author Leila Azadbakht, PhD. Tip: Lightly toast fenugreek seeds in a dry pan — to give them a caramelized flavor — before adding them to meat, poultry and fish dishes.
Make sure you eat enough dairy.
Enjoying 1-1/2 oz. of cheese or one cup of milk or yogurt at every meal could single-handedly cut your risk of high blood sugar — and type 2 diabetes — in half, say University of Tennessee researchers. Dairy’s blend of calcium, protein, and milk fats stalls carb absorption in the digestive tract, plus it helps your muscles burn blood sugar for fuel.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.
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