From the risk of heart disease and diabetes to low energy and weight gain, your blood sugar levels affect more than most people realize – keeping them in balance is an important task that is too often neglected.
And while trendy drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy can help bring things under control, it’s not that simple — many users still struggle to get their hands on the expensive and often unavailable stock.
There is good news, however, experts say.
“For the majority of people who either can’t get, can’t afford, or don’t have coverage for these drugs, you can replicate these results with lifestyle changes,” said Dr. Jamie Kane, Chief of Obesity Medicine and director of the Weight Management Center at Northwell Health System, told The Post.
Here are some simple, science-backed steps to help you start managing your blood sugar — and your weight — naturally.
American adults are advised to get about 150 minutes of moderate physical activity and 2 days of strength training per week, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.
While it helps with weight management, exercise can increase insulin sensitivity which means your cells can use the sugar in your bloodstream more efficiently.
A recent study found that isometric exercises—especially wall sits—may be the best type of exercise for lowering blood pressure. The analysis found that about eight minutes of isometric exercise, three times a week, can lead to a healthy reduction in blood pressure.
Drinking water regularly can hydrate the blood, lower blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of diabetes.
Staying hydrated also helps control your appetite and flush out any excess sugar through urine.
Adjust your carbohydrate intake
Tracking your carbohydrate intake is a key factor in managing your blood sugar — especially for those with insulin resistance.
All carbohydrates raise blood sugar levels. As your body breaks down carbohydrates during digestion, they are turned into sugar, mostly glucose, which moves into the bloodstream, raising your blood sugar levels.
Choosing foods with a low glycemic index (GI) can help regulate these levels.
The glycemic index measures how quickly carbohydrates are broken down and how quickly your body absorbs them, which affects how quickly your blood sugar levels rise.
A healthy diet overall can help with most health problems, including blood sugar levels and obesity.
Eating more fiber and snacking between meals are all small steps you can take to stabilize your blood sugar.
Fiber slows the digestion of carbohydrates and the absorption of sugar, helping your blood sugar levels rise at a more gradual rate. Enjoying smaller portions more often throughout the day can also improve insulin sensitivity and help maintain blood sugar levels.
Dr. Kane also suggests “we cut back on highly processed foods, cut back on excess animal protein, and cut back on things like saturated fat and avoid artificial sweeteners.”
Instead, he advises eating “high-fiber, low-fat, whole, unprocessed foods and plant-based diets.”
Portion control and calorie tracking – no restrictive or fad diets – also help.
“One trick I’ll suggest to patients is to use your non-dominant hand to eat to help slow you down,” Dr. Barry Weinstein, medical director at Well by Messer, told The Post.
Manage stress levels
Learning to manage your stress levels has a long list of mental and physical benefits along with lowering your blood pressure and maintaining a healthy weight.
When stressed, your body releases hormones called glucagon and cortisol, which cause your blood sugar to rise.
“The key to natural weight loss involves recognizing emotional eating patterns and treating the underlying sources of stress and depression,” Dr. Caroline Messer, an endocrinologist at Fifth Avenue Endocrinology and founder of Well by Messer, told The Post.
Poor sleep can also affect blood sugar levels, insulin sensitivity and weight management.
“Sleep deprivation increases levels of the hormone cortisol, which has been shown to play an essential role in blood sugar management,” Dr Kane said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults should get at least seven hours of shut-eye a night, but it seems many people don’t understand this.