Follow these four tips to lower your blood sugar naturally

It’s natural to want to manage diabetes, well, naturally. If you are monitoring your blood glucose (sugar) levels and seeking ways to improve insulin resistance without medication, here are four ways to do just that.

1. Get moving.

Physical activity is essential for managing blood sugar levels. “And you don’t have to engage in highly vigorous activity,” says Elizabeth Mayer-Davis, Ph.D., a registered dietitian and president of healthcare and education for the American Diabetes Association. “Even walking at a brisk pace is enough.”

She recommends 30 minutes of exercise a day, five days a week. If you take diabetes medication, regular exercise can alter your prescribed dosage, so talk to your doctor.

2. Maintain a healthy weight.

Being overweight raises your risk for a number of health problems, including type 2 diabetes. Weight loss, combined with physical activity, can help reduce insulin resistance, which occurs when the body doesn’t use insulin properly. Dr. Mayer- Davis says that losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can make a difference.

3. Relax.

Stress doesn’t cause diabetes, but it can affect blood sugar levels, says Richard S. Surwit, Ph.D., author of The Mind-Body Diabetes Revolution: A Proven New Program for Better Blood Sugar Control. “In learning to cope better with stress, people can reduce their blood sugar to a certain extent,” he says. Techniques include guided imagery, deep breathing and yoga. Dr. Surwit also uses progressive muscle relaxation, which involves tensing and releasing muscles.

4. Go to bed earlier.

Some studies suggest that getting enough sleep helps keep weight and blood sugar under control.

“It’s reasonable that healthy amounts of quality sleep might be beneficial,” Dr. Mayer-Davis says. “But the reason for that has a lot to do with weight.”

As part of an overall weight-loss strategy that includes exercise and a healthy diet, strive to get seven to eight hours of quality shut-eye each night.

 Strike a Balance

For the estimated 25.8 million children and adults who have diabetes in the U.S., monitoring their blood glucose levels carefully is important to avoid complications, such as hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia. So, what’s the difference?

Hyperglycemia means high blood glucose, one of the major causes of complications with diabetes. When you are hyperglycemic, the body has too little insulin or it can’t properly use the insulin it has. Symptoms include frequent urination and thirst. You usually can lower your blood glucose by exercising. People who have diabetes can manage hyperglycemia by regularly checking their blood glucose to make sure it’s within a healthy range.

Hypoglycemia, on the other hand, is low blood glucose. Symptoms include shakiness, dizziness, sweating, hunger, headache, sudden moodiness or behavior changes, and even seizure. Raising blood glucose is easiest by ingesting a form of sugar, such as fruit juice or hard candy, or just drinking sugar mixed into water. Then check your blood glucose level 15 to 20 minutes later to make sure it has returned to normal. Continue to eat meals and snacks regularly to make sure your blood glucose level stays up.