How to Lower Blood Sugar Naturally

Day in and day out, you probably don't give much thought to your blood sugar levels. This is normal. If you don’t hav diabetes, blood sugar and hyperglycemia are simply not on your radar.

I thought the same thing. I eat well, exercise regularly, get lots of sleep, and I don’t smoke.

But I did struggle with energy crashes in the late afternoon, often feeling like I needed a nap. I assumed this was due to getting up early for swim practice and the occasional late night out. Even with cutting back on the late nights, I just couldn’t shake the afternoon energy slump. I also noticed I was unusually thirsty and occasionally had blurry vision.

After a trip to my doctor, I learned all about blood sugar and nondiabetic hyperglycemia. Turns out the sugary energy drinks and packaged energy bars I ate before my workouts and in the afternoon to tide me over to dinner were causing my blood sugar to spike and then drop.

Once I switched out the afternoon energy bar for some fruit and protein and changed my morning energy drink to one with less sugar, I quickly began to feel better. The afternoon energy crashes were gone, I craved sugary foods less frequently, and symptoms that I thought were just part of getting older, went away.

Turns out it doesn’t take much to cause your blood sugar levels to spike, resulting in nondiabetic hyperglycemia. And the reality is, your blood sugar levels matter to your short and long-term health.

Keep reading to learn the facts on blood sugar and how to lower your blood sugar naturally. Take it from me, you do not want to overlook blood sugar and its impact on your health.

What is High Blood Sugar?

High blood sugar or nondiabetic hyperglycemia occurs when the level of sugar (glucose) in your blood is too high.1

The body uses blood sugar as its primary energy source, to support brain, kidney, and red blood cell function. To ensure there is a steady supply of energy, excess blood sugar is stored in your liver, muscles, and cells as glycogen. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, is responsible for regulating your blood sugar levels.1, 2

However, this finely regulated system can be easily disrupted by excess stress or trauma, modern diets, medication side effects, underlying conditions, genetics, or hormonal changes.1, 2

What Causes Nondiabetic Hyperglycemia?

I had not heard of nondiabetic hyperglycemia until I met with my doctor. This visit was a revelation, and now, because it’s too easy to ignore, I want you to fully understand why this health condition needs your attention.

Nondiabetic hyperglycemia may be caused by:2,3,4

  • Physical stress on the body, including injuries, surgery, burns, or other trauma, may change the way blood sugar is metabolized. The body responds to stress by activating cortisol and epinephrine hormones and inflammatory proteins known as cytokines. This fight-or-flight response has a trickle-down impact, increasing glucose production and blocking insulin activity and function. The conclusion of a study of 95,764 trauma patients sums up the severity of nondiabetic and diabetic hyperglycemia:5

Hyperglycemia is associated with increased odds of mortality in both diabetic and nondiabetic patients. Hyperglycemia during hospitalization in nondiabetics was associated with the worst outcomes and represents a potential opportunity for intervention in this high-risk group.

  • Underlying medical conditions including Cushing’s syndrome, polycystic ovarian syndrome, or a pancreatic condition including pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis, or pancreatic cancer.
  • Infections including urinary tract infections or pneumonia are associated with increased cortisol levels. This can interrupt insulin activity, limiting the removal of excess sugar from the bloodstream.
  • Obesity is a major risk factor for nondiabetic hyperglycemia. People who are obese have increased levels of fat cells which disrupt the insulin-glucose balance, contributing to a series of side effects including insulin resistance, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, high blood lipid levels, and high blood sugar levels
  • Lifestyle habits including a lack of physical activity, an unbalanced diet, consuming too many processed and high-sugar foods, and excessive alcohol consumption can cause high blood sugar. Each of these interrupts how the body produces insulin and manages glucose levels.
  • Some medications including estrogen, phenytoin, and glucocorticoids may increase blood sugar levels. Receiving nutrition through an IV or feeding tube may contribute to elevated blood sugar and nondiabetic hyperglycemia. Always discuss the possible side effects of medications and treatments with your doctor.
  • Your genetics, including a family history of prediabetes, insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, gestational diabetes, or being of Native American, Hispanic, Asian American, Pacific Island, or African American descent, may contribute to your risk of developing nondiabetic hyperglycemia.

If left untreated or ignored, nondiabetic hyperglycemia can have serious health outcomes, including nerve, blood vessel, tissue, or organ damage, increased potential for a heart condition including a stroke or heart attack, delayed healing from underlying conditions, a compromised immune system, and the development of secondary infections.2,3,4

Do not ignore these symptoms of nondiabetic hyperglycemia or high blood sugar:2,3,6

  • Increased and persistent thirst
  • Blurry vision
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Frequent peeing
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Stomach pain
  • Headaches

Blood Sugar Facts You Need to Know

These blood sugar facts underscore the impact of blood sugar on your overall health and wellness:2,7,8,9,10,11,12

  • Blood sugar levels are regulated by insulin.
    Insulin is an essential hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar levels and energy. Produced by the pancreas, insulin ensures your cells and organs have enough energy to function. If your insulin levels are too low, sugar can accumulate in your bloodstream, potentially causing high blood sugar levels.
  • The liver has a key role in managing blood sugar.
    An often overlooked organ, the liver works tirelessly to support energy levels by creating, storing, and releasing glycogen based on signals from your insulin and glucagon hormones.
  • Excess blood sugar is converted to fat.
    The body does this to ensure there is an energy reserve available when there are no other energy sources available. This process is called lipogenesis and is a natural survival adaptation. However, most of us have easy access to food, and rarely need to rely on this stored fat for energy.

Overtime, this excess stored fat accumulates in the liver, replacing liver cells with fat cells potentially leading to serious health challenges including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

  • Insulin resistance occurs when cells are less responsive to or stop responding to insulin.
    This may cause high blood sugar levels or hyperglycemia. Insulin resistance can be a temporary condition or result in a more serious health challenge, contributing to prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes.
  • An estimated 96 million American adults (1 in 3) have prediabetes.
    Of this group, it’s believed 80% of people do not realize they hav prediabetes! Because the symptoms of prediabetes are not obvious, it is often not detected until other health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes are diagnosed.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends people with any of the following risk factors have their blood sugar levels tested:

  • You are overweight
  • You are 45 years of age or older
  • You have a parent or sibling with Type 2 diabetes
  • You are physically active less than 3 times a week
  • You have a history of gestational diabetes or gave birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
  • You have polycystic ovary syndrome

Like you, all of us at Quantum Nutrition Labs were startled by this last blood sugar fact – 1 in 3 adult American have prediabetes and 80% of these people don’t know they have this seriou health condition.
This drives home the reason for this blog - we want you to know the harsh realities of chronically high blood sugar and know how to lower your blood sugar naturally.

Remember, I thought I was doing everything right – exercising, eating well, and not smoking – but all it took was a few too many packaged energy drinks and bars for my blood sugar to spike and cause undesirable side effects.

7 Lifestyle Strategies to Lower Blood Sugar Naturally

Stay motivated as you begin to integrate these 7 lifestyle strategies to help lower your blood sugar naturally:3, 6,13,14,15,16,17,18

  1. Make exercise a regular habit: just 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week helps your body metabolize blood sugar, keeps your muscles active, and helps limit your stress. Hint: a 30-minute walk is ideal!
  2. Eat a balanced diet: vegetables, fruit, lean proteins, slow-acting carbohydrates, fiber, drinking water, and managing your portion size are all part of a balanced diet.
  3. Be aware of hidden sugar: read the labels on packaged foods and pay attention to the amount of sugar in the ingredients. Foods like canned soups, pasta sauce, energy bars and drinks, sweetened yogurt, protein bars and powders, crackers, cereal, and juice often have high levels of sugar.
  4. Use natural supplements: Ceylon cinnamon bark is an example of a supplement ingredient with a long history of use in traditional healthcare. Research shows that cinnamon may support the pancreas in helping to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
  5. Stop smoking and vaping: the nicotine and chemicals in cigarettes, cigarette smoke, cigars, and e-cigarettes have far-reaching negative impacts on your total body health. Plain and simple – do not smoke.
  6. Limit your alcohol consumption: beer, mixed drinks, and other alcohol are all high in carbohydrates, sugar, and calories. The calories from alcohol are converted to fat cells in the liver, contributing to the potential for insulin resistance and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
  7. Maintain a healthy weight: being overweight or obese is a major risk factor for numerous health conditions. Here is what the American Diabetes Association says about weight and your health:

Being overweight raises your risk for Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. It can also increase the risk of high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol, and high blood glucose (sugar).

If these lifestyle strategies sound familiar, this is because they are the cornerstones of a healthy, balanced, and active life. While you should never live a restrictive or programmed lifestyle, it is important to take care of your body.
Eat your veggies. Get 8 hours of sleep. Cut back on sugar. Move your body. Do not smoke. Stop or limit alcohol. Manage your stress. Have fun. Laugh more.

Remember, health is wealth – and you want maximum health!

Consult your healthcare team before making changes to your nutrition, exercise, or supplements. Discuss all supplements, including the vitamins and minerals you take or plan to take, as these may interact differently with underlying health conditions and medication. Always follow the suggested use instructions and read the warnings on the supplement product label before consumption.

References

  1. Hyperglycemia (High Blood Sugar): Cleveland Clinic (Accessed August 15, 2023) https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9815-hyperglycemia-high-blood-sugar
  2. High Blood Sugar in People Without Diabetes: Verywell Health (Accessed August 15, 2023) https://www.verywellhealth.com/causes-blood-sugar-rise-in-non-diabetics-5120349
  3. Nondiabetic Hyperglycemia: Drugs.com (Accessed August 15, 2023) https://www.drugs.com/cg/nondiabetic-hyperglycemia.html
  4. Mouri MI, Badireddy M. Hyperglycemia. [Updated 2023 Apr 24]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. (Accessed August 15, 2023) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430900/
  5. Fakhry, Samir M. MD; Morse, Jennifer L. MS; Wilson, Nina Y. MSN; Waswick, William A. MD; Garland, Jeneva M. PharmD; Chipko, John M. MD; Wyse, Ransom J. MPH; Elkbuli, Adel MD; Dunne, James MD; Litow, Kyle J. DO; Duane, Therèse M. MD; Fisher Chris MD; Shillinglaw, William C. DO; Banton, Kaysie L. MD; Biswas, Saptarshi MD; Plurad, David MD; Watts, Dorraine D. PhD. Hyperglycemia in nondiabetic adult trauma patients is associated with worse outcomes than diabetic patients: An analysis of 95,764 patients. Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery 93(3):p 316-322, September 2022. | DOI: 10.1097/TA.0000000000003576 (Accessed August 15, 2023) https://journals.lww.com/jtrauma/abstract/2022/09000/hyperglycemia_in_nondiabetic_adult_trauma_patients.5.aspx
  6. Symptoms of High Blood Sugar in People Without Diabetes: Verywell Health (Accessed August 15, 2023) https://www.verywellhealth.com/symptoms-of-high-blood-sugar-in-non-diabetics-5121097
  7. Rogers PV, W u B, Liu Y, Han W. Pancreatic regulation of glucose homeostasis. Exp Mol Med. 2016 Mar 11;48(3):e219. doi: 10.1038/emm.2016.6. PMID: 26964835; PMCID: PMC4892884. (Accessed August 15, 2023) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4892884/
  8. Nordlie RC, Foster JD, Lange AJ. Regulation of glucose production by the liver. Annu Rev Nutr. 1999;19:379-406. doi: 10.1146/annurev.nutr.19.1.379. PMID: 10448530. (Accessed August 15, 2023) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10448530/
  9. Kersten S. Mechanisms of nutritional and hormonal regulation of lipogenesis. EMBO Rep. 2001 Apr;2(4):282-6. doi: 10.1093/embo-reports/kve071. PMID: 11306547; PMCID: PMC1083868. (Accessed August 15, 2023) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1083868/
  10. Sugar and the liver: what you need to know: British Liver Trust (Accessed August 15, 2023) https://britishlivertrust.org.uk/sugar-and-the-liver-what-you-need-to-know/
  11. Insulin Resistance: Cleveland Clinic (Accessed August 15, 2023) https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22206-insulin-resistance
  12. Prediabetes – Your Chance to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Accessed August 15, 2023) https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/prediabetes.html
  13. 14 Easy Ways to Lower Blood Sugar Levels Naturally: Healthline.com (Accessed August 15, 2023) https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/14-ways-to-lower-blood-sugar
  14. Aras M, Tchang BG, Pape J. Obesity and Diabetes. Nurs Clin North Am. 2021 Dec; 56(4):527-541. doi: 10.1016/j.cnur.2021.07.008. PMID: 34749892. (Accessed August 15, 2023) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34749892/
  15. McMacken M, Shah S. A plant-based diet for the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes. J Geriatr Cardiol. 2017 May;14(5):342-354. doi: 10.11909/j.issn.1671-5411.2017.05.009. PMID: 28630614; PMCID: PMC5466941. (Accessed August 15, 2023) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5466941/
  16. Giulio R Romeo and others, Influence of Cinnamon on Glycemic Control in Individuals With Prediabetes: A Randomized Controlled Trial, Journal of the Endocrine Society, Volume 4, Issue 11, November 2020, bvaa094 (Accessed August 15, 2023) https://doi.org/10.1210/jendso/bvaa094
  17. Extra Weight, Extra Risk: American Diabetes Association (Accessed August 15, 2023) https://diabetes.org/healthy-living/weight-loss/extra-weight-extra-risk
  18. Diabetes and Alcohol: Mount Sinai (Accessed August 15, 2023) https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/selfcare-instructions/diabetes-and-alcohol

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Jenny Perez is an herbal educator, researcher, and writer who has been immersed in the field of nutrition and botanical medicine for more than 20 years. Jenny has created curriculum, content, and educational materials for Quantum Nutrition Labs, Premier Research Labs, the American Botanical Council, and Bastyr University’s Botanical Medicine Department where she was Adjunct Faculty, Herb Garden Manager, and Director of the Holistic Landscape Design certificate program.