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  • Writer's pictureDr. Jennie Ding

Optimal Blood Sugar Control - What's a Normal Blood Glucose Level?

A common question from clients starting with us is, "How much blood glucose level is normal?" Understanding this is crucial, especially if you're navigating the realms of prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. Let's dive into this topic and explore effective strategies for blood sugar control.


 

Understanding Normal Blood Sugar Levels


"How much blood sugar level is normal?"

In terms of mmol/L, a normal fasting blood glucose level typically ranges between 3.9 to 5.5 mmol/L. For those without diabetes, this level might rise but typically stays below 7.8 mmol/L after meals.


In the case of prediabetes, fasting levels range from 5.6 to 6.9 mmol/L. For individuals with type 2 diabetes, these levels are often higher, signifying a challenge in blood sugar regulation.


To make this clearer, here's a table outlining the target blood glucose levels:

blood glucose level chart for normal, prediabetics, and type 2 diabetics
  • If you have well controlled Type 2 diabetes, your blood sugar levels may be that of those with pre-diabetes or a non-diabetic person. If you have issues controlling your blood sugar despite being on diabetic medications, your blood glucose levels may be higher than the numbers listed in this table.


Understanding these levels is just the beginning. As we explore the realms of lifestyle medicine, nutrition coaching, and more, you'll learn how to manage and even improve your blood sugar levels naturally.


A digital glucometer showing blood glucose level with insulin syringe and vial, test strips, and a blood drop


 

The Role of Lifestyle Medicine

In the realm of blood sugar control, lifestyle medicine and nutrition coaching play pivotal roles. Small, consistent lifestyle changes can significantly impact your blood sugar levels, helping you to lower them naturally and maintain them within a healthy range.


Lifestyle Medicine: A Holistic Approach

Lifestyle medicine involves a holistic approach to health, focusing on areas such as diet, physical activity, stress management, and sleep. By addressing these key lifestyle factors, you can positively influence your body's ability to regulate blood sugar.


Nutrition Coaching: Personalized Dietary Guidance

Nutrition coaching is another cornerstone in managing blood sugar. As a lifestyle medicine physician and a nutrition coach, I work with you to develop a personalized eating plan that includes foods known to help stabilize and lower blood sugar. This plan is not just about avoiding sugar; it's about creating a balanced diet that supports your body's needs.


Layered mason jar salad with fresh vegetables, grains, and nuts


 

Strategies to Lower Blood Sugar Naturally

Managing your blood sugar levels is crucial for overall health, especially if you're dealing with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. By adopting certain lifestyle medicine strategies, you can effectively control your blood sugar naturally. Here’s a checklist of strategies to integrate into your daily routine:


1. Prioritize Low Glycemic Index Foods:

Opting for low glycemic index (GI) foods is a key strategy in blood sugar control. Low GI foods are absorbed more slowly, causing a gradual rise in blood sugar. This approach is supported by research, such as the study by Brand-Miller et al. (2003), which demonstrated significant improvements in blood glucose control with a low-GI diet in individuals with type 2 diabetes.


Another study by Jenkins et al. in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" established the concept of the glycemic index and its importance in diabetes management. They found that low-GI foods could lead to a lower and slower rise in blood glucose and insulin levels. This strategy is especially effective when combined with a diet rich in fiber and whole grains, as these foods not only have low GI values but also provide essential nutrients and energy.


Quinoa avocado salad packed with assortment of vegetables


2. Incorporate Regular Physical Activity:

Engaging in regular physical activity is a cornerstone of diabetes management and overall health improvement. Both aerobic and resistance training have been shown to increase insulin sensitivity, which is crucial for effective blood sugar control.


A comprehensive study by Colberg et al. (2016) highlighted the benefits of various forms of exercise, including aerobic, resistance, flexibility, and balance training, in managing diabetes. Additionally, a study by Bird and Hawley (2017) in "Sports Medicine" found that exercise training is highly beneficial for those with type 2 diabetes, improving glycemic control and reducing cardiovascular risk factors.


active white woman running in the park for fitness

Fasted Exercise: Exercising in a fasted state, especially in the morning, can also have specific benefits for blood sugar control. A study by Van Proeyen et al. (2010) in "The Journal of Physiology" showed that training in the fasted state can improve glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity.


However, if you are a diabetic, particularly if you are on medications such as Metformin, Insulin, Ozempic, or other diabetic drugs, it's crucial to be more vigilant about monitoring your blood sugar levels. Checking your blood sugar before and after exercising, as well as during the workout (especially if it's a fasted exercise or if you feel unwell), is important to prevent hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and ensure safe blood sugar management.


This careful monitoring is essential because exercise can alter your body's insulin needs. Engaging in physical activity, especially intense or prolonged exercise, can lead to a significant drop in blood sugar levels, which can be risky if not monitored and managed appropriately. By staying vigilant and adjusting your exercise regimen in consultation with your healthcare provider, you can safely enjoy the benefits of physical activity while managing your diabetes effectively.


woman checking her blood sugar level with continuous glucose monitor (CGM)


3. Monitor Carbohydrate Intake (Focusing on NET Carbs):

One effective strategy in managing diabetes is to monitor not just your total carbohydrate intake, but more importantly, your Net carbohydrate intake. Net carbs are calculated by subtracting the fiber content from the total carbohydrates in a food item. This is crucial because fiber does not significantly raise blood sugar levels; hence, foods with high fiber content are generally a better choice for blood sugar control.


Net carbs calculation from nutrition label, total carbs and dietary fiber

Complex carbohydrates that are high in fiber, typically found in plant-based whole foods, have been shown to improve blood sugar control. A study by Liese et al. (2005) in the "American Journal of Epidemiology" found that a higher intake of whole grains and dietary fiber was associated with improved insulin sensitivity and reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. This underscores the importance of choosing complex carbs with high fiber, such as whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables, over refined and processed carbs.


By focusing on net carbs and incorporating more plant-based whole foods into your diet, you can better manage your blood sugar levels, supporting your journey towards diabetes management and overall health improvement.



4. Stay Hydrated:

Adequate water intake is crucial for maintaining blood sugar levels. Roussel et al. (2011) showed that proper hydration enhances the body’s insulin response. Additionally, a study by Sontrop and Campbell (2006) in the "American Journal of Epidemiology" revealed that increased water intake might reduce the risk of high blood sugar (hyperglycemia).


Drinking water and staying hydrated helps flush out excess glucose through urine and maintains optimal blood volume and circulation. It's recommended to avoid sugary drinks and opt for water, herbal teas, or other non-caloric beverages to assist in blood sugar control.


white man drinking water to hydrate after exercising


5. Manage Portion Sizes

Portion control is vital for managing blood sugar. Wolever et al. (1991) showed that smaller portion sizes could reduce post-meal blood sugar spikes. Another study by Rolls et al. (2004) in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" emphasized the importance of portion size in weight management, which is closely linked to blood sugar control.


Eating smaller portions helps prevent overeating and can lead to better overall blood sugar management, especially when combined with a balanced diet high in nutrients and fiber. It’s helpful to use measuring tools or visual cues to estimate appropriate serving sizes.


Nuts, seeds, veggies, and cut up fruits in measuring cups for portion control


6. Include Fiber in Your Diet

Incorporating fiber, particularly soluble fiber, into your diet can significantly improve blood sugar levels. Post et al. (2012) highlighted this benefit. Another study by Chandalia et al. (2000) in the "New England Journal of Medicine" found that a high-fiber diet significantly improved glycemic control and decreased hyperinsulinemia in patients with type 2 diabetes.


Soluble fiber can help slow down the absorption of sugar, improving blood sugar levels. It can be found in foods like oatmeal, nuts, beans, apples, and blueberries. Including these foods in your diet can have a substantial impact on managing diabetes.


Colorful and nutritious vegan vegetable salad


7. Focus on Healthy Fats

Incorporating healthy fats into your diet is essential for blood sugar control. Paniagua et al. (2007) found that a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil reduced the need for diabetes medications. A study by Garg et al. (1994) in the "New England Journal of Medicine" demonstrated that a diet high in monounsaturated fat improved glycemic control and lipid profiles in individuals with diabetes.


Healthy fats, found in foods like avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil, do not directly raise blood sugar levels and can help in glycemic control. They also provide essential fatty acids and help in nutrient absorption.


artistic display of nuts, seeds, dates, almonds, pecans, cashews and a healthy smoothie


8. Limit Processed Foods and Added Sugars

Limiting the intake of processed foods and added sugars is crucial for blood sugar management. Ludwig et al. (1999) indicated that these foods could impair glycemic control. A study by Hu et al. (2001) in the "Journal of the American College of Nutrition" also found that diets high in high-glycemic-index foods increased the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.


Processed foods often contain high levels of added sugars and refined carbohydrates, which can lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar. Opting for whole, unprocessed foods can significantly improve blood sugar control and overall health.


woman eating donuts as a treat


9. Practice Stress Management

Stress management is essential for maintaining stable blood sugar levels. Surwit et al. (2002) noted that stress management could lower blood glucose in those with type 2 diabetes. Another study by Rosmond et al. (2000) in the "Journal of Internal Medicine" found a link between stress and insulin resistance, highlighting the importance of stress reduction in diabetes management.


Techniques like mindfulness, meditation, and yoga can be effective in reducing stress and its impact on blood sugar levels. Regular practice can lead to long-term benefits for both mental and physical health.


Outdoor meditation group of men and women at sunset for stress relief


10. Regular Health Check-Ups

Regular monitoring of blood sugar levels is critical in diabetes management. The UK Prospective Diabetes Study (1998) emphasized the importance of tight blood glucose control in reducing complications. Consistent follow-up with your healthcare provider ensures early detection and management of abnormal blood glucose levels.


A study by Griffin et al. (2001) in the "Diabetic Medicine" journal showed that regular diabetic check-ups could lead to better outcomes and reduced complications. Additionally, support from your family physician and health team is crucial. Our Blood Sugar Defense Program offers the option of connecting with me, Dr. Jennie Ding, for comprehensive care and support.


Lifestyle medicine doctor visit with a patient on diet and exercise for health.


 

Embracing Lifestyle Medicine for Optimal Health


Many of these scientific studies above, some dating back to the 1990s, are foundational in the field of diabetes research. Their findings and recommendations have been continuously verified and still hold true today. Our Blood Sugar Defense Program is based on such robust scientific evidence combined with the latest research data to ensure that we bring you the most effective recommendations for blood sugar control.


The Blood Sugar Defense Program applies lifestyle medicine strategies for blood sugar management, emphasizing the power of daily habits and choices. This approach is not about quick fixes but about making sustainable lifestyle changes that have a profound impact on your health.


If you are ready to transform your life and take control of your health, then I invited you to book your free discovery call with me, Dr. Jennie Ding, today. Let's work together to build a healthier, more vibrant future.



Father and daughter eating a fresh apple outdoors.




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