Let’s get the bad news out of the way. Your risk of diabetes is likely rising. Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes rates are skyrocketing both in the U.S., and around the world.
Of course, this probably won’t be much of surprise to you. Because if you don’t already know a few people with the disease chances are, you soon will.
And if you’ve read a magazine, turned on the TV, or sat in a doctor’s waiting room lately you can’t escape the news about how many folks are already battling diabetes.
Better blood sugar with nearly zero effort
But what might be a surprise is the good news. And that is there are some surprisingly subtle ways you can support better blood sugar and send your risk plummeting.
Sure, you know the biggies: lose weight, exercise and cut back on added sugar. But there are smaller, blood-sugar friendly tweaks you can make that most folks miss.
And these little changes can help you achieve better blood sugar with almost zero extra effort.
1. Eat carbs last:
As strange as it seems researchers say the order in which you eat can have a significant impact on your blood sugar.
Scientists at Weill Cornell Medical College had volunteers eat two identical meals made up of chicken, veggies, salad, bread, and orange juice at two different times. For the first round, the volunteers ate the high-carb foods—the bread and orange juice—first. For the second meal, the volunteers ate the chicken and veggies first, and finished the meal with the bread and O.J.
Incredibly, that tiny tweak was enough to lower blood sugar spikes by about a third in the folks who finished up with the bread and juice instead of starting with it.
And a similar Italian study mirrored those findings when they had volunteers eat anything they wanted for four months as long as it added up to a specific calorie count. But one group of volunteers ate proteins or fats first and the other started with carbs.
After the four months, the protein first group had an average glucose level over the previous months that was 0.3 percent lower than the carbs first folks were. And their fasting and post meal blood sugar spokes were lower too.
Experts theorize that since it takes longer to digest protein, fat and fiber eating them first slows how fast your body absorbs the sugar.
2. Think spice instead of sugar:
Adding cinnamon to oatmeal or coffee can help give your breakfast a touch of sweetness without the added sugar. But researchers say that’s not the only reason to make the change.
A study out of Canada revealed cinnamon can help reduce A1c levels, as well as help reduce blood pressure and artery damage in patients with type 2 diabetes and prediabetes.
Researchers believe cinnamon may be subtly mimicking the effects of insulin, helping to move glucose into your cells leading to better blood sugar. Plus the sweet and savory spice can help reduce insulin resistance.
Choose Ceylon cinnamon over cassia if you have a choice. It’s pricier but richer in antioxidants.
3. Get plenty of sleep:
It turns out how you spend your nights, can have a major impact on your blood sugar during the day.
The Annals of Epidemiology reports that people who regularly get less than six hours of sleep per night are three times more likely to suffer with blood sugar spikes than those who get the recommended seven to nine. And in another Dutch study researchers found that just a single night of poor sleep can negatively affect your blood sugar the next day.
Short sleepers are more likely to have less regular eating habits snack more and reach for the wrong foods when they’re overtired. But it’s likely more than that. Research has also revealed our hormones are affected when we don’t get enough rest, which can affect blood sugar.
4. Choose olive oil over other fats:
An Italian study found that diabetic folks who paired their high GI carbs with olive oil had 50 percent lower post-meal blood sugar readings than those who ate butter or even no fat at all. Another study comparing olive oil to corn oil had similar success. Volunteers had significantly lower blood glucose levels.
Fats slow down your digestion which delays how quickly your stomach empties and how fast sugar gets released into your system. This can prevent drastic jumps in your blood sugar after eating.
And olive oil in particular is rich in oleic acid which research has found helps regulate insulin secretion and minimizes blood sugar spikes for overall better blood sugar. Just make sure you are choosing high quality, organic extra virgin olive oil.
Big changes can sometimes be overwhelming. But these surprisingly subtle steps can lead to better blood sugar and lower your risk for type 2 diabetes.