Follow these specific strategies to help control blood sugar:
- Exercise. A regular exercise program has been shown to help manage blood sugar levels over time, and taking a varied approach to fitness is good for diabetes and health in general. Participants in a 12-week program who exercised for an hour three times a week using both aerobic and resistance training had improved diabetes management, according to research in the February 2015 issue of the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. So mix it up with strength training, aerobic workouts, and any other activities you enjoy.
- Weight loss. If you’re overweight, it will be easier to stabilize blood sugar more effectively if you lose even a few pounds. “For some people with diabetes, losing just 5 or 10 pounds can make a difference in diabetes control or the need for medication,” says endocrinologist Joseph Aloi, MD, section chief and professor of endocrinology and metabolism at Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
- Diet. Many people with diabetes achieve better control over their blood sugar by limiting the kinds of foods that can cause blood sugar to spike. For example, your doctor might recommend cutting back on carbohydrates and eating more lean protein, fruits, and vegetables. Fiber can be so helpful that sprinkling even a small amount of a fiber supplement onto a meal that otherwise might spike blood sugar can help stabilize it, Dr. Aloi says.
- Drinking wisely. Alcohol can cause an immediate rise in blood sugar and then a drop a few hours later. It’s best to stick to moderate amounts and have some solid food with your beverage.
- Medications. Your doctor may recommend different types of medications at different times during your diabetes treatment. Treatment options include:
- Biguanide. This type of medication helps your body use insulin more effectively and may also reduce the amount of blood sugar made by the liver.
- Sulfonylurea. Drugs in this class cause certain cells in your pancreas to make more insulin. However, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) is a possible side effect.
- Meglitinide. This is another drug that causes your pancreas to make more insulin, with hypoglycemia as a possible side effect.
- Thiazolidinediones. This class of medication may help insulin work better.
- Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors. These drugs stop the body from breaking down starches and may be used to prevent a spike in blood sugar after a meal.
- DPP-4 inhibitors. These medications allow GLP-1, a gut-based hormone naturally found in the body, to last longer and help stabilize blood sugar levels.
- SGLT2 inhibitors. These medications cause excess glucose to be eliminated in the urine.
- Insulin. Taking supplemental insulin may be necessary to help your body use blood sugar more effectively.