Food & Drinks to Help Balance Blood Sugar
Foods and Drinks to Help Balance Blood Sugar
If you're struggling to balance your blood sugar, you're not alone. More than 37 million Americans have diabetes, with nearly one and a half million more being diagnosed each year. On top of that, eighty-four million people have been diagnosed with prediabetes (1).
There's nothing like starting the day with a nutritious breakfast. But if you're trying to keep your blood sugar in check, it's important to choose foods that will help stabilise your levels throughout the day. Skipping breakfast can cause blood sugar levels to drop, as hunger may tempt you to reach for sweet snacks. Here are some breakfast ideas that will help you stay on track.
Oats and Oatmeal
Oatmeal is a whole grain that is packed with fibre, which can help slow down the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream (2). Top your oatmeal with some fresh berries for an added boost of antioxidants. Alternatively, try oats, which are also a great source of fibre. Add some protein-rich Greek yogurt, and some chopped-up apples and berries, and soak them overnight. In the morning, add some nuts, and you will feel satisfied until lunchtime. Or you could just make yourself some traditional porridge, but resist the temptation to sprinkle it with sugar. Add some slices of banana and berries for a delicious start to the day.
Eggs are a great source of protein, which can help to keep you feeling full and regulate your blood sugar levels (3). Try making a healthy frittata or omelette for breakfast. An egg on toast is another classic breakfast combo. The protein in the eggs will help balance out the carbohydrates in the toast, keeping your blood sugar levels steady. Try poached, scrambled, or fried eggs on wholemeal, seeded bread. Or why not boil a couple of eggs and make toast soldiers? Make sure the bread is wholemeal, granary, or seeded rather than white for maximum blood sugar-balancing effect (4).
If you don’t fancy eggs, there is no reason why you cannot have just toast. Remember to avoid white bread, otherwise, you will be reaching for a snack mid-morning. This is because it is digested really quickly, raises your blood sugar levels quickly, but causes them to fall just as quickly (5). If you are diabetic, jam, marmalade, and honey are not ideal toppings. So why not try almond or peanut butter with sliced bananas?
Yoghurt is a good source of calcium as well as probiotics, or good bacteria. Probiotics have been shown to have an influence on blood sugar levels and help reduce the chances of developing diabetes (6). Rather than buying a so-called fruit yoghurt, choose a plain yoghurt that is lower in sugar and add some fresh fruit for sweetness. Choose full-fat yoghurts rather than low-fat versions as these tend to be higher in sugar than full-fat. Protein yoghurts are also a great choice as they will take longer to digest.
Fruit and cottage cheese
A small serving of cottage cheese paired with fresh fruit is a light but satisfying option. The fruit provides natural sweetness and the cottage cheese is high in protein, making this a balanced breakfast that will give you sustained energy all morning long.
A smoothie made with unsweetened almond milk, frozen bananas, and spinach is a great way to get important nutrients like vitamins A and C, potassium, and magnesium. Adding a scoop of protein powder will help to keep you feeling full until lunchtime. Do not be tempted to have smoothies that are all fruit or to add fruit juice. This will send your blood sugar levels sky-high (7).
If you are feeling indulgent, or it is a special occasion, how about some smoked salmon? It is delicious on a whole-grain bagel, or if you are looking for a heartier option, try it with some scrambled eggs. The healthy fats and proteins in the salmon and eggs will help slow down the digestion of carbohydrates, keeping your blood sugar levels from spiking. (8)
Another indulgent breakfast is avocado smashed on wholegrain toast topped with a poached egg. As with salmon, the healthy fats in the avocado will keep those blood sugars level. In addition, avocado packs a nutritional punch as they contain fibre plus many necessary vitamins and minerals (9).
Lunch and Dinner
Now that we have discussed breakfast, what about lunch and dinner? First of all, there is no reason why you cannot use any of the suggestions above for a healthy lunch. Some other tips are:
Include protein at every meal
Protein helps to slow down the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream, which stabilizes blood sugar levels. Protein also keeps you feeling full longer. Good sources of protein include lean meats, fish, nuts, beans, and lentils. Don’t forget to include oily fish as well as white fish.
Drink plenty of water
Staying hydrated is important for overall health, but it’s also crucial for regulating blood sugar levels. Drinking water helps flush excess glucose away through the kidneys. Aim to drink eight glasses of water per day (11).
This spice has been shown to help lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity (12). Add a teaspoon of cinnamon to your breakfast cereal or oatmeal, or sprinkle it on top of fruits, desserts, or even in your coffee.
These little seeds are packed with fibre, which can help to slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, regulate blood sugar levels, (13) and reduce insulin resistance (14). Add chia seeds to smoothies, yoghurt, or oatmeal, or use them to make homemade energy bars.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has been shown to help lower blood sugar levels in both diabetics and those without the condition. Over the course of a couple of months, taking it daily can also help to reduce your Hba1c blood sugar test result. This is likely because the acetic acid in the vinegar helps to slow down the digestion of carbohydrates (15). As a result, apple cider vinegar can be a helpful tool for managing blood sugar levels. With that being said, it is not the most pleasant-tasting drink, so it is best to mix one tablespoonful with a large glass of water. Drink it before each meal and also before bed.
Balancing your blood sugar doesn't have to be difficult. By adopting some of the meal suggestions, foods, and drinks into your diet, you can help keep your blood sugar levels within a healthy range.
Statistics About Diabetes https://diabetes.org/about-us/statistics/about-diabetes
9 Health Benefits of Eating Oats and Oatmeal https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/9-benefits-oats-oatmeal
Are eggs an option for people with type 2 diabetes? https://www.diabetes.ca/managing-my-diabetes/stories/are-eggs-an-option-for-people-with-type-2-diabetes-
Wholegrains and diabetes https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/enjoy-food/carbohydrates-and-diabetes/wholegrains-and-diabetes-
Carbohydrates and Blood Sugar https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/carbohydrates-and-blood-sugar/
Yogurt and Diabetes: Overview of Recent Observational Studies https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/147/7/1452S/4743682
Fruit juices and smoothies https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/enjoy-food/what-to-drink-with-diabetes/fruit-juices-and-smoothies
High intake of fatty fish, but not of lean fish, improved postprandial glucose regulation and increased the n-3 PUFA content in the leucocyte membrane in healthy overweight adults: a randomised trial https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28606215/
What Are Prebiotics? https://www.verywellhealth.com/prebiotics-and-ibs-1944748
Water and Diabetes https://www.diabetes.co.uk/food/water-and-diabetes.html
Cinnamon: Potential Role in the Prevention of Insulin Resistance, Metabolic Syndrome, and Type 2 Diabetes https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2901047
Health Benefits of Chia Seeds https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-chia-seeds
Dietary chia seed (Salvia hispanica L.) rich in alpha-linolenic acid improves adiposity and normalises hypertriacylglycerolaemia and insulin resistance in dyslipaemic rats https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18492301/
Diabetes Control: Is Vinegar a Promising Candidate to Help Achieve Targets? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5954571/