In our sugar-overdosed world, balancing blood sugar levels is even trickier. Sugar seems to hide in everything and it is finally being accepted as a major culprit of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Fat isn’t the enemy, neither is the sugar that comes from natural sources (for most people at least), but processed sugar acts like poison in the body. Sugar leads to generalized inflammation, creates imbalances particularly in insulin sensitivity, energy and mood. And cancers feed off sugars and this carbohydrate contributes to oxidative damage when consumed in excess. How do we know how much sugar is in a particular food? With the glycemic index, which measures how much a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood sugar levels. The higher the glycemic index, the more a carbohydrate-rich food will raise blood sugar. When dealing with fluctuating or high blood sugar or diabetes, it is best to eat carbohydrates low on the glycemic index scale. Meats and fats are not allotted measurements on the scale because they do not contain (or contain very few in ) carbohydrates. Fruits, grains, and starchy vegetables and legumes do fall onto the scale. You’ll find many different indexes across the internet with different ways of measuring. Some state that certain higher glycemic index foods can be eaten in small portions while other scales place them on the strictly no list. Healthy eating habits are about balance and moderation, and this applies to those struggling with blood sugar or diabetes.
Grains: 100% stone-ground whole wheat or pumpernickel bread, oatmeal (rolled or steel-cut), oat bran, muesli, barley, rye, bulgur, wild rice, basmati rice, chickpeas, whole wheat tortilla, and whole wheat pasta.
Vegetables: sweet potato, corn, yam, asparagus, artichoke, avocado, broccoli, cucumber, eggplant, green leaves, tomato, onions, okra, spinach, squash, zucchini, and turnips.
Beans/Legumes: black beans, kidney beans, split and yellow peas, lima/butter beans, legumes and lentils.
Fruits: apples, dried apricots, unripe bananas, cherries, grapefruit, pears, apples, oranges, plums, strawberries, peaches, and grapes (with a GI of 53)
Nuts/oils: almonds, peanuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, olives, walnuts, and oils that are liquid at room temperature.
Dairy/Meat/Fish/Eggs: skim milk, soy milk, almond milk, lowfat cheese, yogurt (lowfat or greek) lean red meat, fish, skinless chicken, turkey, shellfish, egg whites, egg yolks( up to 3/week) and soy products.
Grains: whole wheat, rye and pita bread, high fiber bread, quick oats, brown, wild or basmati rice, couscous, and popcorn.
Vegetables: beets, carrots, sweet potato (which can help balance blood sugar), yam, corn on the cob, and pumpkin (small portions).
Beans/Legumes: pinto, kidney or navy beans, green and yellow peas.
Fruits: banana (under ripe), dried figs, kiwi, mango, oranges, raisins, cranberry juice, orange juice, grapes (small portions), and cantaloupe (small portions).
Nuts/Oils: cashews, macadamia, chocolate.
Sweets: honey and sugar (one tablespoon).
Grains: white bread or bagel, corn flakes, puffed rice, bran flakes, instant oatmeal, shortgrain white rice, rice pasta, rice cereal and other rice and white wheat products, and popcorn.
Vegetables: russet potato and pumpkin
Beans/Legumes: broad beans
Fruits: melons, pineapple, dried dates, watermelon (small portions can be tolerated as it takes a lot of watermelon to spike blood levels), and overripe bananas.
Sweets and snacks: desserts, white breads, and candies.
Aloe vera: Aloe can help relieve symptoms of diabetes by repairing the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Adding fresh aloe to drinks or smoothies or taking aloe supplements can potentially alleviate symptoms and progression of diabetes. (5) (6) (7)
Cinnamon: This aromatic bark can potentially help improve glucose levels, fasting glucose levels, cholesterol and insulin activity. And with its fragrant spiced flavor, it can be a great substitute for sugar in dishes. (8) (9) (10)
Bitter melon: This medicinal fruit has been used in Indian and Chinese medicine for centuries. It is believed that bitter melon can lower blood sugar levels. This makes bitter melon a perfect pairing for higher glycemic index foods, and the fruit can even be taken in supplement form. (11) (12)
Ginger: This root could potentially help balance blood sugar levels, however evidence that it also lowers blood insulin is still lacking, so ginger may reduce insulin resistance in type II diabetes. (20) (21) (22)
Other potential plant treatments include: bitter lemon, gurmar, onion, garlic, ghikumari, tuar, kundru, kanderi, banyan tree, tulsi (holy basil), banda, chirata, jamun, giloe, amrut, kiwanch, curry tree, indian mustard. (26)
Eat protein with every meal as it helps slow the release of glucose into the bloodstream. (27) (28)
Avoid fasting for long periods and then eating larger meals. This can send glucose levels into a rollercoaster pattern that can further destabilize them. Smaller, balanced, eaten regularly meal portions are a better option.
Eat healthy fats! Like avocados, fatty fish, healthy oils and nuts. These good fats slow the release of glucose and offer satiety. (29) (30).
Nicotinamide (vitamin B3): This B vitamin plays is essential for the functions of hundreds of enzymes, carbohydrates, lipids and protein metabolisms. Supplementation of this vitamin may help improve the progression of diabetes type I and potentially type II. (35) (36) (37)
Vitamin E: This fat soluble vitamin acts as an antioxidant protecting the body from radical damage and disease. Low levels of vitamin E are associated with increased incidences of diabetes. Vitamin E supplementation may be associated with diabetes prevention and improving insulin sensitivity. (38) (39) (40)
Massage: Massage can potentially help normalize blood sugar levels, reduce muscle tension, heart rate, bp, and ease symptoms of neuropathy via increased circulation.
Acupuncture: This ancient Chinese practice is used to treat diabetes and complications associated with the disease, notably neuropathy, by helping to stimulate and strengthen the nervous system. It is even believed to help strengthen the pancreas by enhancing insulin synthesis, increasing the number of receptors on target cells, and accelerating the utilization of glucose, resulting in lowering of blood sugar. (41)
Hydrotherapy: Hot cold water therapy is recommended for patients with type II diabetes who have difficulty exercising as it can help stimulate blood flow, relax muscles and flush the body of toxins.
Infrared Heat Therapy: Infrared saunas and biomats can help lower blood pressure in diabetic patients, increase circulation, and help treat symptoms and progression of neuropathy.
Exercise regularly! Exercise helps your muscles take up more glucose in order to use it for energy and tissue repair and lowers blood sugar in the process. Long term exercise also makes cells more responsive to insulin and helps fight insulin resistance.
Sleep! Sleep is a baseline of good health and fighting off any chronic condition. And lack of sleep raises appetite hormones like cortisol that push you towards quick energy fixes like sugary snacks. (42)