How Do Our Lifestyles Affect Blood Sugar Levels?

How Do Our Lifestyles Affect Blood Sugar Levels?

By The Numbers

High blood sugar levels and insulin resistance are the consequence of several variables. Among them are age and genetic factors, which we cannot modify. Nonetheless, health experts claim that lifestyle modifications are the number one treatment for abnormal blood sugar levels and insulin resistance.

Such lifestyle modifications include:

  •   Losing excess weight. Studies show that by shedding 7% of the extra weight, a person can reduce their risk of Type 2 diabetes by 58%.
  •   Exercise. Including regular amounts of physical activity is a critical factor in improving glucose energy usage, insulin sensitivity, and lower blood sugar levels. One session of moderate-intensity training can increase glucose absorption by at least 40%.
  •     Eating a healthy diet. Certain foods trigger excess insulin production and therefore increase blood sugar levels. Especially foods rich in carbohydrates, unhealthy fats, processed sugars, and processed meat.

We will review each one of them in detail.

How to Lower Blood Sugar Levels Through Diet.

According to the American Diabetes Association, people with insulin resistance can eat all types of food. However, it is crucial to understand which food groups increase blood sugar and which ones help augment insulin sensitivity.

For example, a study about calorie-restricted vegetarian meal plans had an outstanding capacity to improve insulin sensitivity compared to a traditional diabetic diet over 24 weeks. The key here is to aim for a loss of visceral fat and an improvement in plasma concentrations of adipokines.

This particular study used a vegetarian diet consisting of 60% energy from carbs, 25% from fat, and 15% from protein. Animal products were limited to one small portion of low-fat yogurt per day. The traditional diet patients use to lower their blood sugar levels contained 50% energy from carbs, 20% protein, and less than 30% fat.


It is essential to emphasize that Type 2 diabetes and abnormal blood sugar levels are only half as prevalent in vegetarians compared to people who eat animal products.

Fat has historically been linked to the development of insulin resistance in humans and animals. Most pertinent research concludes that higher levels of total dietary fat result in higher blood sugar levels and whole-body insulin resistance. Obesity complicates this relationship, as weight has been studied as a determinant of how much the body impairs insulin sensitivity. Not all fats act the same, as saturated and monosaturated fats have the worst effects on insulin action.

On a different note, current studies do not indicate a necessity to eliminate dairy products from individuals struggling with high blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. Authors of the most recent studies stress the importance of reducing the intake of simple sugars, particularly fruit juice and sweetened drinks. The benefits of the Mediterranean diet have also been confirmed as effective in reducing abnormal blood sugar levels.

Here’s a list of foods that support insulin reduction;

  •         High-fiber foods such as lentils and beans,
  •         Protein-rich foods such as soy, legumes, nuts, lean meats, and fish.
  •         Citric fruits such as lemons, limes, and oranges.
  •         Non-starchy veggies such as dark leafy greens, peppers, and broccoli.
  •         Tomatoes.
  •         Fish rich in omega-3, such as salmon.
  •         Foods that contain antioxidants such as berries.
  •         Unsweetened teas.

Here’s a list of foods to avoid that trigger high levels of blood sugar and impair insulin action:

  •         Starchy vegetables such as yams, potatoes, and corn.
  •         Processed snacks such as boxed cookies and cakes.
  •         Processed meats such as bacon and deli.
  •         Sweetened beverages including soda, fruit juices, and sports drinks.
  •         High amounts of alcohol intake.
  •         Cow’s milk.
  •         Fried foods such as fried chicken and French fries.
  •         Foods high in saturated fats such as butter and chocolate.
  •         White bread.
  •         Boxed cereals.

How to Lower Blood Sugar Levels through Exercise and Weight Loss.

Exercise reduces insulin resistance through the following mechanisms:

  •         It improves control over hepatic glucose production.
  •         It increases skeletal muscle insulin action.
  •         It stimulates muscle development.
  •         It promotes the loss of visceral fat.

 When we exercise, muscles soak up glucose from the bloodstream; therefore, no insulin production is needed.

Exercise paired with being physically active can significantly improve insulin sensitivity.

New studies indicate that increases in fasting insulin levels and an increase in insulin-mediated glucose resistance are closely related to dietary choice.

What Other Lifestyle Factors Impact Blood Sugar Levels?

  •         Smoking impairs both insulin production and sensitivity.
  •         Bad sleep habits increase insulin resistance.
  •         Use of steroids.
  •         Hormonal disorders such as Cushing’s syndrome and acromegaly can disrupt insulin sensitivity.
  •         Underlying health conditions such as high blood pressure increase an individual’s risk of developing high blood sugar levels and diabetes.
  •         Race: Hispanic, African-American, Hawaiian, or Indian people are at higher risk of insulin resistance.

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