Blood sugar levels are a primary concern for people with diabetes. High blood sugar, known as hyperglycemia, occurs when a person’s blood sugar is over 180 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).
High blood sugar levels can be dangerous if not promptly managed and lead to both short-term and long-term problems. Over time, keeping blood sugar at unhealthful levels can damage small and large blood vessels in several organs and systems, leading to serious consequences, such as:
- vision impairment and blindness
- foot ulcers, infections, and amputations
- kidney failure and dialysis
- heart attacks and strokes
- peripheral vascular disease, a condition where blood flow to the limbs is reduced
- damage to the nervous system, leading to pain and weakness
By keeping blood sugar levels under 100 mg/dL before eating and under 180 mg/dL after eating, people with diabetes can significantly reduce their risk of adverse effects from the disease.
Here are a few ways that a person with diabetes can lower high blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of complications.
- Monitor blood sugar levels closely
- Reduce carbohydrate intake
- Eat the right carbohydrates
- Choose low glycemic index foods
The glycemic index measures and ranks various foods by how much they cause blood sugar levels to rise. Research shows that following a low glycemic index diet decreases fasting blood sugar levels.
Low glycemic index foods are those that score below 55 on the glycemic index. Examples of low glycemic foods include:
- sweet potatoes
- low-fat milk
- leafy greens
- non-starchy vegetables
- nuts and seeds
- Increase dietary fiber intake
The two types of fiber are soluble and insoluble fiber. Of the two types, soluble fiber is the most helpful in controlling blood sugar.
Soluble fiber is in the following foods:
- whole grains
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Control portion size
- Exercise regularly
- Manage stress
- Get enough sleep
Managing high blood sugar is key to avoiding serious complications from diabetes. There is a range of lifestyle interventions that can help a person struggling with high blood sugar to lower their glucose levels. A person should always follow their doctor’s advice for lowering high blood sugar.