Keep blood sugar levels low with these top tips

Posted on: 14 November 2016 by 50connect editorial

Dr Ben Kelly explains how blood glucose levels can be improved by simple lifestyle changes and offers top tips to get you started.

Women walking

With an estimated 4 million people in the UK diagnosed as diabetic, Ben Kelly offers easy lifestyle changes that could considerable help keep blood glucose levels under control.

Limit sugar intake

A bit of a no-brainer, eating less sugar, particularly sucrose, will help lower your blood glucose levels. Before embarking on this, be very honest with yourself about how much sugar you currently consume, and try to reduce it a little each week. 

Keep carbohydrates at 60%

Carbs shouldn’t make up more than 60% of each meal. The guideline daily amount for carbohydrate is 230g per day for women and 300g for men. As carbohydrate is essentially a sugar, it should be limited if blood glucose is an issue. Try to imagine your plate as a pie chart to help plan your meals. 

Make sure you eat healthy fats

Good, healthy fats like Omega-3 should be a core part of your meals. These fats can help your heart health in general, so can help to mitigate the strain higher levels of sugar can put your blood vessels under. 

Eat plenty of fresh fruit and veg

You should eat at least two pieces per day, but ideally this should be increased to five. If fruit and vegetables have never been part of your diet, start small and slowly build up.

Experiment until you find produce that works for you but high fibre options are preferable. Fruit and vegetables are also important because they deliver the appropriate vitamins and minerals that promote cardiovascular health. 

Build fibre into your diet

Soluble fibre such as that found in oats can help improve blood glucose control if eaten in good amounts. Fibre can also add ‘bulk’ to a meal to help make you feel full, which can assist if you struggle with a consistently high appetite or with portion size and blood glucose levels.

However, you should be wary of over-relying on fibrous foods. Many foods that contain fibre (fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads, cereals, and pastas) also contain other types of non-fibre carbohydrate that do contribute to blood glucose and therefore don't always equate to being ‘risk free’.

Use exercise to stay in control

Alternate between aerobic and resistance exercise during the week, as these types of exercise improve the sensitivity of the cells response to insulin, and therefore the processing of sugar improves. High Intensity Training is another great way to utilise muscular carbohydrates and increase the size of your ‘metabolic sink’. Research shows that this exercise can also boost the sensitivity of cells to insulin resulting in more efficient processing of carbohydrate.

Be smarter about when you exercise

If you know that exercise makes you ravenous as soon as you have stopped, you should avoid exercising later in the evening. Give your body a chance to use the sugar you consume by needing to process less excess carbohydrate during periods in which you are completely sedentary i.e. when you go to bed.

This doesn’t mean you need to give up certain types of food, but you should be more mindful of when you exercise. For instance, if you are going for a Sunday roast, getting in a session of exercise pre-meal can help you make room in the ‘metabolic sink’, preparing your body for the absorption of sugars. 

Visit Nuffield Health for more information about the metabolic disorder.

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