From heart disease and diabetes risk to low energy and weight gain, your blood sugar levels impact more than most people know — keeping them at a healthy balance is an important task that too often gets neglected.
And while trendy drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy can help get things under control, it’s not that simple — many users are still finding it difficult to obtain the expensive and often out-of-stock jabs.
There’s good news, however, experts say.
“For the majority of people who either can’t get or can’t afford or don’t have coverage for these medications, you can reproduce these effects with lifestyle changes,” Dr. Jamie Kane, Chief, Section of Obesity Medicine, and Director of the Center for Weight Management at Northwell Health System, told The Post.
Here are some simple, science-backed steps to help you begin managing your blood sugar — and your weight — naturally.
American adults are advised to move their bodies for about 150 minutes of moderate physical activity and 2 days of muscle-strengthening a week, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.
While helping to manage weight, exercise can increase insulin sensitivity meaning your cells can use the sugar in your bloodstream more effectively.
A recent study found that isometric exercises — specifically wall sits — may be the best type of workout to help reduce 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 may rehydrate the blood, lower blood sugar levels, and reduce the risk of developing diabetes.
Staying hydrated also helps control your appetite and flush out any excess sugar through urine.
Regulate your carb intake
Monitoring your carbohydrate intake is a key factor in managing your blood sugar — especially for those with insulin resistance.
All carbs raise blood sugar levels. As your body breaks down carbs during digestion, it’s turned into sugar, mainly glucose, which moves into the bloodstream, raising your blood sugar levels.
Choosing foods with a low glycemic index (GI) can help to regulate these levels.
The glycemic index measures how quickly carbs break down and how rapidly your body absorbs them, which affects how quickly your blood sugar levels rise.
A healthy diet overall can help with most health issues including blood sugar levels and obesity.
Eating more fiber and snacking in between meals are all small steps you can take to stabilize your blood sugar.
Fiber slows carb digestion and sugar absorption, helping your blood sugar levels to rise at a more gradual pace. Enjoying smaller portions more frequently throughout the day can also improve insulin sensitivity and help sustain blood sugar levels.
Dr. Kane also suggests “switching away from ultra-refined foods, limiting excess animal protein and cutting back on things like saturated fat and avoiding artificial sweeteners.”
Instead, he advises eating “high fiber, low fat, whole unrefined foods and plant-based diets.”
Portion control and monitoring calories — without restrictive or fad diets — also help.
“A trick I’ll recommend to patients is to use your non-dominant hand to eat to help slow you down,” Dr. Barrie 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 secretes hormones called glucagon and cortisol, which cause your blood sugar to spike.
“The key to natural weight loss includes recognizing emotional eating patterns and treating underlying sources of anxiety and depression,” Dr. Caroline Messer, endocrinologist at Fifth Avenue Endocrinology and founder of Well by Messer, told The Post.
Get enough sleep
Poor sleep can also affect blood sugar levels, insulin sensitivity and weight management.
“Sleep deprivation raises levels of the hormone cortisol, which, as explained, plays an essential role in blood sugar management,” Dr. Kane said.