The Best Habits for Your Blood Sugar, Say Physicians
Blood sugar is one of those body systems it's crucial to keep in a healthy range. When your blood sugar is too low, your body doesn't have enough energy to function properly. When it's chronically too high, it can lead to diabetes, a condition that increases your risk of several major health problems, including heart disease, stroke, dementia and blindness. The key to maintaining healthy blood sugar is to adopt habits that encourage your body to appropriately use insulin, a hormone the body produces that enables cells to use that sugar for energy. When your blood sugar is too high too often, the body can become resistant to insulin, potentially allowing sugar levels to rise uncontrollably. Here's what physicians say are the best habits for your blood sugar.
1. Eat a Balanced Diet
A balanced diet is important to blood sugar control. "As much as possible, plan for every meal to have a good mix of starches, fruits and vegetables, proteins, and fats. Pay attention to the types of carbohydrates you choose," advises the Mayo Clinic. "Some carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, are better for you than others. These foods are low in carbohydrates and have fiber that helps keep your blood sugar levels more stable." The carbs to avoid: Refined grains and foods with added sugar, included sugar-sweetened beverages like sodas.
2. Get Regular Exercise
Exercise is one of the best things you can do to keep your blood sugar in a health range. Physical activity increases the body's sensitivity to insulin, so muscle cells are more able to take up glucose instead of allowing it to build up in the blood, says the American Diabetes Association. And when muscles contract during exercise, they process glucose regardless of whether insulin is available.
3. Manage Stress
"Hormones from stress increase your blood pressure, raise your heart rate, and can cause blood sugar to rise," says the Cleveland Clinic. When you're stressed, levels of the stress hormone cortisol also rise, which makes muscle and fat less sensitive to insulin, meaning higher blood sugar isn't processed. When that situation becomes chronic, it can lead to diabetes. Your move: Manage stress through exercise, and techniques like relaxation exercises, meditation and mindfulness.
4. Get Enough Quality Sleep
Poor sleep is another source of stress for the body, and that can be bad news for your blood sugar levels. "Even just one night of too little sleep can make your body use insulin less efficiently," says the CDC. Not only does inadequate rest make the body more resistant to insulin, it increases circulating levels of cortisol.
5. Maintain a Healthy Weight
"Some scientists think there is a connection between body fat and hormones that regulate appetite and insulin levels," says Johns Hopkins Medicine. Losing weight and reducing body fat can keep your blood sugar from reaching unhealthy levels. Just losing five to ten percent of your body weight can improve your blood sugar numbers.
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