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They say what goes up must come down and this is the case with your blood sugar.
Keeping your blood sugar balanced is so important, and for non-diabetics, you can usually prevent blood sugar imbalances through your diet and lifestyle. So, when your blood sugar spikes or falls, there are foods out there that you can eat to help you maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
Here, we’ll talk about how what you eat can affect your blood sugar levels and foods you can include in your diet to help keep your sugar levels stable.
Whilst your blood sugar fluctuates throughout the day, blood sugar that is too low or too high can affect your health, especially if you have levels above or below the normal range which is between 70 mg/dL and 100 mg/dL.2
But what happens when your blood sugar gets too high, or when it drops below the ideal range?
Full of naturally occurring sugars and carbohydrates, fresh fruit can help raise your blood sugar. Fruit that contains the right amount of carbohydrates to bring your levels back up includes roughly half a banana, 15 grapes or a small apple or orange.8
Most fruit juices contain enough carbohydrates to help you raise your blood sugar levels. So having a glass of roughly 120ml of your favourite juice, like apple, orange, pineapple, or cranberry will help to bring your levels up.9 Be careful not to drink too much though, as this can cause a significant spike in your sugar levels.10
Milk is packed with vitamin D and carbohydrates which can both help increase your blood sugar when your levels start to fall.11
Honey is mainly made up of fructose and glucose and it has a high glycaemic index score , which means it will raise your blood sugar levels relatively quickly.12 Having a tablespoon of honey as a snack when your blood sugar levels start to dip is a great way to help balance them out.
When we eat carbohydrates, our bodies break them down into glucose which raises our blood sugar. This is why cutting down on refined or processed carbs like white bread or sugar-laden cakes and biscuits can help to control blood sugar.13
Several studies have shown that a low-carb diet could help to reduce blood sugar levels.14 One study found that when obese patients with type 2 diabetes followed a calorie-restricted diet with only 20% carbohydrates, they lost weight and their blood sugar fell.15
GI stands for glycaemic index (GI), which tells us how quickly the food we eat raises blood glucose levels.16 So, foods with a higher GI release glucose more quickly than foods with a lower GI which release glucose slowly and steadily.
If you’re concerned about your sugar levels, go for low-GI foods like:16
High-fibre foods help blood sugar levels rise gradually.17 Sources of soluble fibre like porridge, apples, nuts, celery and flaxseeds, and wholegrains especially, have been shown to lower blood sugar levels and may protect older women from developing type 2 diabetes.18
Foods like fruit, beans, whole grains, and vegetables slow down how quickly we absorb sugar and digest carbohydrates.17
Studies have shown that drinks which contain sugar raise blood glucose levels, raise the risk of diabetes and lead to weight gain.19 Water, on the other hand, has been linked with lowering blood sugar and may reduce the chance of developing diabetes.20
It is recommended that you drink at least 6-8 200ml glasses of water per day!21
A mineral that helps the body break down fats and carbohydrates, chromium is also thought to work to help control blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes.22
Chromium rich foods include things like23:
With its golden colour and tangy taste, apple cider vinegar is thought to help lower glucose levels and help you feel fuller after eating carbohydrates24. Mix 2 teaspoons into a glass of water or use it to dress a salad. However, if you’re already taking medicine to lower your blood sugar, check with your doctor first.