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Zaheera Swing
Nutritional Therapist & Herbalist BSc Hons Nutritional Science + NTPD

4 Natural Hacks To Support Healthy Blood Glucose Levels From A Nutritional Therapist

Maintaining blood glucose balance and insulin sensitivity is vital for overall health and can prevent conditions like type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Consuming apple cider vinegar before meals can lower blood sugar levels. Exercise after meals also aids in managing glucose levels. Sleep quality influences blood glucose regulation, with poor sleep associated with higher glucose levels. Finally, meals balanced with protein, fiber, and healthy fats help regulate blood glucose levels for sustained energy.



Blood sugar 101

You may be wondering, why should I worry about blood glucose levels or insulin sensitivity if I don’t have diabetes? Well, believe it or not, maintaining a healthy blood glucose balance is a non-negotiable when it comes to living your healthiest life and protecting your body as you age. As a Nutritional Therapist, getting my clients off the “blood sugar rollercoaster” is always one of the first things I address.

Blood glucose balance refers to the regulation of glucose (sugar) levels in the bloodstream. Insulin sensitivity, on the other hand, refers to the body's ability to respond to insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps to bring glucose from the bloodstream into cells to use for energy production. 

High blood sugar levels (hyperglycaemia) over time can lead to conditions such as type 2 diabetes (according the American Diabetes Association, 1.4 million Americans will be diagnosed with diabetes mellitus each year), metabolic syndrome, and obesity, all of which increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and even certain types of cancer.

Insulin resistance, where the body's cells become less responsive to insulin, is a major contributor to this imbalance. This can result in elevated insulin levels, which not only impairs blood glucose control but also contributes to chronic inflammation and oxidative stress, leading to a range of health problems.

Chronic disease aside, imbalances in blood glucose levels can lead to symptoms like fatigue, mood swings, weakness, brain fog, anxiety and more. 


Keep reading to discover my top tips on how to lower blood sugar levels for optimal health:


1. Take apple cider vinegar before eating



One of the easiest, most effective, scientifically proven hacks involves simply consuming apple cider vinegar before eating (especially if your meal or snack is high in a refined carbohydrate!)

How effective, you may ask? Get this, research shows that consuming vinegar before eating may lower postprandial blood glucose levels by a whopping 30% and curb the resulting insulin spike by up to 20%! [1] [2]

How exactly does it work? While the mechanisms are not entirely understood just yet, it’s thought that the acetic acid found in apple cider vinegar may slow down the absorption of carbohydrates into the bloodstream, enhance how your body uses glucose, and potentially slow down the rate at which food leaves the stomach and enters the small intestine [3], [4].

There are a few different ways you can incorporate this hack:


  1. Add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (preferably organic and unfiltered) to a small glass of water and drink 15 minutes before eating.

  2. Take an apple cider vinegar supplement 15 minutes before eating (this the best option to protect your teeth enamel from potentially corrosive acetic acid in vinegar as well as avoid the taste)



2. Use your muscles after eating



Have you ever heard that it's best to take a walk after eating? Well, it turns out there's actually a scientific reason for that advice! When you use your muscles, you're helping to reduce spikes in your blood glucose levels.

You see, when you use your muscles, they burn glucose as fuel. This helps lower the amount of glucose in your bloodstream, preventing spikes in blood glucose levels. In fact, studies have shown that even just a short 15-minute walk after each meal can help to lower blood sugar naturally. [5]

Exercise doesn't just help lower blood glucose levels in the moment, though. It can also increase insulin sensitivity, which means that your body will be better able to regulate glucose levels in the future. This can be especially beneficial for people with diabetes, as it can help them better manage their condition. [6]

But you don't have to go for a run to see the benefits. Any physical activity that gets your muscles moving will help. This could be a walk, a few squats, a bike ride, a swim, or even a yoga class. 



3. Get enough sleep



Who knew getting enough shut-eye could help to lower your blood sugar?

Sleep is a critical component of overall health, and it plays a significant role in regulating blood glucose levels. Here's a closer look at why sleep is so important when it comes to glucose balance and some of the latest research on the topic.

First of all, it's important to understand that sleep affects insulin sensitivity, which is as previously mentioned, is a key factor in glucose regulation. Insulin sensitivity refers to how effectively the body can use insulin to regulate glucose levels. 

One study tested the impact of sleep quality, duration, and timing on glycemic response to a breakfast meal. It analyzed data from 953 healthy adults and found that sleep variables were significantly associated with post-meal blood glucose control. Poor sleep efficiency and later bedtimes were associated with higher postprandial glucose levels. [7]

A review of 7 randomized controlled trials examined the impact of sleep on glucose control in people with diabetes (this excluded patients with type 1 diabetes). The results showed that sleep deprivation and poor sleep quality are associated with blood glucose disturbance and decreased insulin sensitivity. However, sleep extension improved glucose control and insulin sensitivity in both healthy and diabetic participants. [8]

In addition to insulin sensitivity, sleep also affects other hormones involved in glucose regulation, such as cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that can also increase blood glucose levels when it's elevated. Research has shown that sleep deprivation can lead to increased cortisol levels during the day. [9]

Finally, poor sleep quality has been linked to lifestyle factors that can increase the risk of developing diabetes, such as poor diet and lack of physical activity. This highlights the importance of paying attention to sleep as a crucial component of overall health, including glucose regulation.

So, now that you know the science, how can you improve your sleep? Here are my top tips:

  • Magnesium bisglycinate supplementation before bedtime can help to promote relaxation and deep sleep.

  • Avoid screens (phone, laptop, TV, etc.) at least 1 hour before bed.

  • Maintain a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends.

  • Engage in activities that help you unwind, such as reading, taking a warm bath, or practicing deep breathing exercises.

Manage stress. Chronic stress can interfere with your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Consider practices like mindfulness, meditation, or yoga to promote inner peace or try a supplement like Ashwagandha to naturally alleviate stress levels.



4. Balance your meals/snacks with fiber, protein, and healthy fats



You know that feeling you get after eating a big meal and then suddenly feeling tired and sluggish? That's likely because your blood glucose levels rose too quickly, leading to a spike and then a crash (i.e, low blood sugar levels, also known as hypoglycemia). But there's a simple solution to this problem: balancing your meals!

When you eat a meal that's high in carbohydrates, your body quickly converts those carbohydrates into glucose, which can cause a spike in your blood glucose levels. However, by including other nutrients in your meal, such as protein, fiber, and healthy fats, you can help regulate your blood glucose levels and avoid those spikes and crashes.

Protein, for example, helps to slow down the digestion of carbohydrates, preventing a rapid release of glucose into your bloodstream. Fiber also plays a role in regulating blood glucose levels by slowing down the digestion of carbohydrates and the absorption of glucose into your bloodstream. [10] [11] 

Healthy fats, such as those found in nuts and seeds are also important for regulating blood glucose levels as well supporting heart health. These healthy fats improve insulin sensitivity, which means that your body will be better able to regulate glucose levels in the future. [12]

So, if you want to avoid those blood glucose spikes and the resulting energy crashes (as well as support weight loss, if that's your goal!), make sure your meal plan is balanced with protein, fiber, and healthy fats. This will help regulate your blood glucose levels and provide you with sustained energy throughout the day.




Final thoughts


Here’s a brief summary of what you learned today about healthy blood sugar control:


  • Maintaining a healthy blood glucose balance and insulin sensitivity is important for overall health and protection against conditions such as type 2 diabetes (diabetes mellitus), high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, and obesity.
  • One tip to support healthy blood glucose levels is to add apple cider vinegar to your meal plan. Taking apple cider vinegar before eating has been shown to lower postprandial blood glucose levels by up to 30% and curb the resulting insulin spike by up to 20%.
  • Using muscles after eating can help to reduce spikes in blood glucose levels by burning glucose as fuel. Exercise can also increase insulin sensitivity and support your weight loss goals.
  • Sleep also plays a significant role in regulating blood glucose levels and improving insulin sensitivity. Poor sleep quality, duration, and efficiency can lead to higher postprandial glucose levels and decreased insulin sensitivity.
  • To improve sleep quality, tips include magnesium bisglycinate and/or ashwagandha supplementation before bedtime, establishing a relaxing evening routine, and avoiding screens at night. 



Note: This article is for informational purposes only and not intended for use as medical advice. Always consult your healthcare provider before starting any dietary supplement or make any significant lifestyle changes - especially if you are currently taking diabetes medication.


Zaheera Swing
Nutritional Therapist & Herbalist BSc Hons Nutritional Science + NTPD
As a qualified Nutritional Therapist (BSc Hons Nutritional Science + NTPD), Zaheera Swing has a deep passion for restoring balance and harmony to the body through the modalities of nutritional science, herbalism, and holistic lifestyle practices. Using the functional medicine model coupled with wisdom from ancient paradigms, she aims to provide insight into the underlying root causes of poor health and the holistic tools we can harness to enhance the well-being of mind, body, and spirit.
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