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Proven Ways to Get "Healthy" Blood Sugar

Here’s how to get your blood sugar levels into optimum range.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

High blood sugar—also known as hyperglycemia—is dangerous if left untreated and strongly linked to type 2 diabetes. "Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is a metabolic disorder of insulin resistance — a reduced sensitivity to the action of insulin — which leads to high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia," says Alyson Kelley-Hedgepeth, MD. "Approximately 12% of American adults have T2D, and more than one-third of Americans have prediabetes, a precursor to T2D. This is a major public health concern, as T2D dramatically increases risk for heart disease, including heart attacks, atrial fibrillation, and heart failure." Here are five science-backed ways to manage your blood sugar. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Regular Exercise

woman jogging in the city by water

Regular exercise is very effective in helping manage blood sugar levels. "Exercise has so many benefits, but the most critical one is that it makes it easier to control your blood glucose (blood sugar) level," says Lisa M. Leontis RN, ANP-C. "People with type 2 diabetes have too much glucose in their blood, either because their body doesn't produce enough insulin to process it, or because their body doesn't use insulin properly (insulin resistant). In either case, exercise can reduce the glucose in your blood. Muscles can use glucose without insulin when you're exercising. In other words, it doesn't matter if you're insulin resistant or if you don't have enough insulin: when you exercise, your muscles get the glucose they need, and in turn, your blood glucose level goes down." Leontis advises that anyone overweight or obese speak to their doctor before starting an exercise program.


Get Good Sleep

woman sleeping at night with eye mask

Lack of sleep can be extremely harmful to your health—and your blood sugar. "We have substantial evidence now to tell us that sleep deprivation has harmful effects on metabolism, particularly the glucose metabolism," says Esra Tasali, MD, associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. 

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Eat Breakfast

eating healthy breakfast

Want to keep your blood sugar steady? Don't skip breakfast, experts say. "Timing is what's important, and earlier seems to be better," says Kristen Knutson, Ph.D, associate professor at the Center for Sleep and Circadian Medicine at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. "Our ability to process the food we eat works better in the morning." "You are better at processing glucose or blood sugar early in the morning, and this ability wears down as the day goes on," says Krista Varady, Ph.D, professor of nutrition at the University of Illinois in Chicago.

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Manage Stress

stressed out woman

Stress can lead to spikes in blood sugar, doctors warn. "In healthy people, cortisol fluctuates naturally throughout the day, spiking in the morning and falling at night," says Dr. Joshua J. Joseph, endocrinologist and researcher at The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center's Diabetes and Metabolism Research Center. "But in participants with type 2 diabetes, cortisol profiles that were flatter throughout the day, had higher glucose levels. Most people with Type 2 diabetes know the importance of exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, and getting plenty of rest. But stress relief is a crucial and often forgotten component of diabetes management. Whether it's a yoga class, taking a walk or reading a book, finding ways to lower your stress levels is important to everyone's overall health, especially for those with type 2 diabetes."

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Keep Track of Blood Sugar

Continuous Glucose Monitoring

Keeping track of your blood sugar levels helps you know if you're on the right track with managing hyperglycemia. "Keep in mind that blood glucose results often trigger strong feelings," says the American Diabetes Association. "Blood sugar numbers can leave you upset, confused, frustrated, angry, or down. It's easy to use the numbers to judge yourself. Remind yourself that tracking your blood sugar level is simply a way to know how well your diabetes care plan is working, and whether that plan may need to change." And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan
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