Blood sugar is a measure of the amount of glucose circulating in your blood at any given time. When you eat, most of the food is converted into glucose. This glucose is needed by your body to fuel your muscles, organs and brain to help them all function properly. Your body can only use glucose as a fuel if the glucose enters your cells. Insulin, a hormone that your pancreas produces, helps this process by unlocking your cells and letting the glucose enter them.
Your blood sugar is spiked or elevated until your body is able to process the sugar, store it or use it. However, there may come times when you eat something that’s overly sweet or has more nutrients than your body requires, causing glucose to build up in your bloodstream. This is when you end up having a blood sugar spike. Symptoms of a blood sugar spike include fatigue, headache, frequent urination and increased thirst. If these spikes in your blood sugar levels persist for a long time, it could lead to insulin resistance and the development of type 2 diabetes. A high blood sugar level can also increase your risk of stroke or heart disease.
9 Ways to Avoid a Spike in Blood Sugar
Maintaining better blood-sugar control and avoiding blood sugar spikes can be done by making a few modifications to your diet and lifestyle. Here are nine ways to avoid blood sugar spikes.
1. Eat more often.
Blood sugar spikes tend to cause blood sugar crashes. Therefore, consider eating smaller meals more often throughout the day. This generally leads to maintaining a steady glucose level in your blood and is a great way to prevent blood sugar spikes followed by blood sugar crashes.
2. Eat cinnamon.
Known for mostly being a tasteful spice to liven up foods, cinnamon can help control blood sugar levels. A study of 60 older adults (average age of 52 years) with type 2 diabetes found that taking as little as 1 gram of cinnamon a day for 40 days lowered blood sugar and improved cholesterol and triglyceride levels, compared to taking a placebo. (One gram of cinnamon is about 1/4 teaspoon ground.)
3. Don’t skip meals.
Diabetics especially need to consider this point. Skipping meals can easily cause your blood sugar levels to dip too low. Once you eat after skipping a meal, your blood sugar can spike as your body attempts to store extra sugar in your blood.
4. Limit refined carbs.
Carbohydrates are vital to your health but choose wisely. Complex carbs like whole grain breads are healthier because they’re lower on the glycemic index. Low-glycemic foods help to prevent sugar spikes as slow-releasing sugar enters the blood. In comparison, refined carbs such as sweets or baked goods can quickly cause a sugar spike.
5. Get enough fiber.
The recommended daily intake of fiber for men over 50 is 30 grams; for women over 50 it’s 21 grams. Failing to get enough fiber may lead to issues with colon health and sugar control. Soluble fiber which can be found in foods such as oats can help control blood glucose.
6. Get more exercise.
It’s recommended that older adults include two 30-minute strength training sessions in their exercise schedule each week in addition to at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (such as running or water aerobics). It’s also beneficial to get moving after you eat. Consider going on a 20-minute brisk walk about 20 minutes after eating to help your body utilize the sugar you just had. A recent study found that going for a walk after eating can help lower your levels of blood sugar more than exercising at another time of the day.
7. Avoid sugary sodas.
This liquid form of sugar can quickly cause your blood sugar to rise in a hurry before crashing shortly later on. Skip drinking any kind of soda and try to drink water or tea whenever possible for better metabolic health.
8. Eat more nuts.
Nuts, like walnuts, almonds and pistachios, have healthy fat and protein, which help slow down the digestion process and the absorption of sugar by the body. Just watch your portion size as nuts are high in calories.
9. Add vinegar to your diet.
Having apple cider vinegar or white vinegar may help lower blood sugar levels. Vinegar slows down the body’s absorption of sugar and improves insulin sensitivity. Consider taking a tablespoon of vinegar diluted with water before every meal.