7 Tips for Blood Glucose Management
Management of ‘in-range’ blood glucose can be a challenge if you live with diabetes. There are many factors that can cause sugars to spike or drop and your body is likely to have its own unique reaction to them. Here we take a look at seven ways to help you better manage your blood glucose levels.
1. Prioritise healthy carbs
Living with diabetes involves a complex relationship with carbohydrates. Carbs may be the main source of energy in a diet and yet not having the right amount can cause hypos or hypers. Simple carbs like pasta and white bread can cause spikes in glucose levels. Try choosing complex, high-fibre carbs such as wholegrain breads, cereals, dried peas, lentils and whole fruit. They can cause a slow release of blood sugar and ensure your glucose levels don’t spike right after eating them.
2. Cut down the sugar
Food and drink high in sugar (another simple carb) not only contains more calories, but can significantly raise your blood glucose levels as well. Swap sugary canned drinks for water infused with lemon, cucumber and berries, or green tea. And healthier desserts such as a low-sugar yogurt sprinkled with berries are full of flavour while low in sugar.
3. Monitor, monitor, monitor
Continuously monitoring your glucose and taking action on the results can be the first line of defence against out-of-range levels. Structured monitoring throughout the day can help you stay in range, plan your meals and activities, and decide medicine dosage. If you’re looking for ways to better manage your monitoring, read our diabetes apps article for more ideas.
4. Manage your stress
Stress can be a significant factor in raising blood sugar levels. When you are emotionally stressed, your body releases a number of hormones including adrenaline so it has enough sugar or energy to cope in a stressful situation. A spike in sugar could soon follow. Spending time outdoors, walking, meditating, practicing mindfulness and gardening can all help to reduce stress and sugar levels and increase your sense of wellbeing during challenging times.
5. Exercise regularly
Exercise helps lower blood glucose levels by increasing your insulin sensitivity and boosting glucose absorption in the muscles. What’s more, the effects can last for up to 24 hours or more. In the longer term, it can lower average blood sugar levels over a period of months – which can be reflected in your HbA1c results.
If you take insulin or similar medicine, be sure to adjust your carb intake or insulin dose with your exercise and check your blood sugars before your workout. This will help to avoid a hypo.
6.Take extra care when ill
When you’re ill, the body creates more glucose as a defence to fight off infection. For people with diabetes, this can result in additional symptoms. Be aware of more thirst, wanting to pass urine more often and general dehydration. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids, try to eat snacks if you can’t keep a whole meal down, and check your blood sugar every four hours for signs of a hyper. If you do need to go into hospital, it’s important to let the medical team know about your diabetes.
7. Plan your alcohol intake
Alcohol lowers blood sugar levels by reducing the liver’s output of glucose. If you enjoy the occasional drink, be aware that if you’re on insulin alcohol can increase your risk of having a hypo for up to 24 hours. Avoid drinking on an empty stomach and make sure you drink a glass of water before you go to bed. If you’re partying away from home, make sure you’re wearing a medical ID and that someone you are with knows how to deal with a hypo. It’s also worth noting that some drinks such as beers and ales are higher in carb content when compared to spirits and dry wine.
"Complex, high-fibre carbs such as wholegrain breads, cereals, dried peas, lentils and whole fruit release energy more slowly, so can help avoid a rapid increase in your blood sugar levels"