Lowering Type 2 Diabetes Naturally: 8 Ways to Lower Blood Sugar

Diet, exercise, stress, and sleep all affect blood sugar. Learn how lifestyle changes can lower your glucose levels and diabetes risk.

A man checking his blood sugar levels
by
April Benshosan
— Signos
Health Writer
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Reviewed by

April Benshosan
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Updated by

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Science-based and reviewed

Published:
May 20, 2024
April 25, 2024
— Updated:
April 25, 2024

Table of Contents

Type 2 diabetes mellitus, a chronic condition characterized by high blood sugar levels, can manifest in many ways. Your diet, exercise habits, stress levels, weight status, and genetics all play a role in your diabetes risk, but that doesn't mean you're destined to live with this condition forever.

Certain lifestyle changes can help correct high blood sugar levels (aka hyperglycemia) and bring them down into a healthy range. Exercising more, drinking more water, and getting better quality sleep can all help with blood sugar control. 

Below, read about the best natural remedies that may lower your blood sugar.

8 Ways to Lower Blood Sugar Levels Naturally

Fruits, donuts, sugar cubes, and elements to track blood sugar levels

Many healthy habits you swore you'd stick to on January 1 are some of the best ways to manage your blood sugar levels.  

Read on for the best ways to lower your blood glucose naturally.

1. Go Low-Carb

Out of all three macronutrients, carbohydrates impact your blood sugar the most. Eating a low-carb diet and being very selective about the carbs you consume is crucial when trying to manage your blood sugar levels.

A 2020 review in the International Journal of Environmental Research And Public Health concludes that a low-carbohydrate diet is an effective eating plan for people with type 2 diabetes and obesity, which is in line with the American Diabetes Association's (ADA) guidelines that state reducing carbs "has demonstrated the most evidence for improving glycemia and may be applied in a variety of eating patterns that meet individual needs and preferences."1

A low-carb diet is typically defined as eating less than 130 grams of carbs per day.2

To truly know if you're sticking to that daily carb goal, you'll need to count your total carbs for everything you consume in a day—that way; you can keep tabs on your blood sugar levels more easily and better understand what foods and drinks impact your blood glucose the most.

2. Eat More Fiber and Low-Glycemic Foods

Going low-carb doesn't mean cutting out carbs completely. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that you should prioritize in your diet. Instead of limiting fiber, you'll want to cut back on other types of carbs—namely, sugar and starch—in your low-carb diet. 

Sugars and starches are usually high-glycemic. The glycemic index (GI) measures how quickly carbohydrates in a particular food or drink raise blood glucose levels compared to pure glucose, which has a GI of 100. Given that reference point, all foods and drinks are then ranked on a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 being the highest rating.

Fiber helps slow down digestion and blunt the blood sugar response. That's why foods high in fiber are usually low-glycemic. To help keep your blood glucose levels more stable, you'll want to prioritize healthy sources of fiber in your diet. 

Some low-glycemic, high-fiber foods to eat more of include:

  • Legumes such as beans, peas, chickpeas, and lentils 
  • Non-starchy vegetables
  • Avocados 
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Berries

3. Lose Weight if You Need To

Obesity is the biggest risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. If you're overweight or obese, losing some body fat can help you reduce your risk of diabetes or better manage your blood glucose if you live with type 2 diabetes. 

Losing just 5% of your total body weight can improve your glycemic control and decrease the need for diabetes medications, according to a 2021 review in The Nursing Clinics of North America. Losing weight increases your insulin sensitivity, which, in turn, can help lower your fasting blood sugar levels.3

There are many different effective strategies to lose weight, and adopting a low-carb diet is one of them. In addition to weight loss, low-carb diets come with the added benefit of reducing the need for insulin and other diabetes medications, per a 2020 report in Diabetes Spectrum.4

4. Exercise Regularly

No matter the type of exercise you choose, regular physical activity can do wonders for your metabolic health. 

Obese women who walked 50 to 70 minutes a day three times a week lost weight and improved their insulin sensitivity, per a 2014 study. However, building muscle mass through strength training may confer even bigger benefits (besides gains) because muscles help your body use sugar for energy. Specifically, doing a strength-training workout an hour before eating can help the body use glucose more effectively and decrease the rate of sugar entering the bloodstream after eating.5, 6

<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Also Read: </strong><a href="what-affects-blood-sugar">What Affects Blood Sugar: Factors Of Blood Sugar Swings</a>.</p>

5. Drink More Water

Just bringing your reusable water bottle along with you can help get your blood sugar levels under control. Drinking more water and staying hydrated helps dilute your blood, which reduces the amount of circulating glucose in the bloodstream. Drinking more water is also associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.7

If you find it difficult to guzzle down plain H2O, try infusing your water with fresh fruit, veggies, or herbs. A few sprigs of rosemary and cucumber slices can add flavor to water while contributing little to no calories. Just remember to avoid hydrating with sugary drinks, like sodas, fruit juice, sports drinks, and sweetened coffee and tea beverages, which can all spike your blood sugar.

6. Get Enough Quality Sleep

Good sleep habits translate to better blood sugar levels. When you get enough quality sleep—at least 7 hours of sleep per night—you won't just feel restored, but your body will work more efficiently and balance your blood sugar better.

Not getting enough sleep on the reg is linked to a higher risk of developing obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, and other chronic health issues.

When you don't get enough sleep, your body produces more stress hormone cortisol, linked to higher blood sugar levels.8

7. Eat Foods Rich in Zinc and Magnesium

Zinc and magnesium, two important minerals we get from food, play an important role in your diabetes risk and glucose metabolism. 

Research shows that having low levels of zinc is associated with type 2 diabetes and poor glycemic control.9 To help correct a potential deficiency, you'll want to take a food-first approach. To help raise your zinc levels, eat more zinc-rich foods, such as

  • Oysters
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Tofu 
  • Pork
  • Squash and pumpkin seeds

People with diabetes or insulin resistance are often low in magnesium, and people who eat a magnesium-rich diet are at a lower risk of getting diabetes. One longitudinal review found that increasing people's magnesium intake by just 100 mg per day decreased their diabetes risk by 15%.10 

For reference, you can get 100 mg of magnesium from about:

  • ⅔ cup cooked spinach
  • A small handful of pumpkin seeds
  • 6 oz. tuna 
  • 1 cup of cooked beans

8. Add Cinnamon and ACV to Your Diet

Some research shows that cinnamon can help increase insulin sensitivity. While most research is done on cinnamon extract and pills rather than the spice itself, sprinkling some cinnamon into oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies, and fruit will not only enhance the flavor but also benefit blood sugar.

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) also shows promising effects: Taking just two tablespoons of ACV per day was shown to help lower blood glucose and cholesterol levels in people with type 2 diabetes.11

Avoid drinking ACV on its own, as the vinegar's acidity can erode teeth. Instead, incorporate ACV into salad dressings or dilute it with a cup of water to make an easier-to-drink elixir.

Final Thoughts

Taking diabetes medications isn't the only way to lower your blood sugar. Even if you're on prescribed meds, such as insulin, you can certainly lower your blood glucose levels by taking the natural route. 

Optimizing your lifestyle to prioritize healthy, low-carb foods, get better sleep and manage your stress, drink more water, exercise regularly, and maintain a healthy weight can all help control your blood sugar levels. In fact, some folks even achieve remission if they start these healthy habits soon enough. 

Before making any lifestyle changes, consult a healthcare professional, especially if you're on medication. Also, before stopping any current medication, you should consult your doctor. Your healthcare team might suggest that diabetes medication and natural remedies often go hand in hand—and, when combined, provide the best approach for managing type 2 diabetes.

Learn More About How to Improve Blood Sugar Health With Signos’ Expert Advice

While choosing the proper medication with your healthcare provider can help improve your health and manage diabetes, making certain lifestyle changes is non-negotiable when you're trying to get better control of your blood sugar. Changing your diet, sleep, and exercise habits is no easy feat, but a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) like Signos can help. 

A CGM keeps track of your blood sugar levels throughout the day and gives insight into what affects your blood glucose levels the most so you can tinker with your healthy habits based on what's working for you. To learn more about blood sugar-related medical conditions and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, check out Signos’ blog.

Ready to try CGMs? Take this quick quiz to find out if Signos is right for you. Discover how to live well with diabetes with the help of Signos wearable CGM.

<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Learn More: </strong><a href="lower-blood-sugar-fast">How To Lower Blood Sugar Fast: 11 Natural Ways</a>.</p>

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About the author

April is a writer, editor, and content strategist with a Master’s degree in Publishing.

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