How is your blood sugar? According to the CDC, 84 million American adults have prediabetes, a condition in which blood sugar is elevated but doesn’t reach the threshold for a diagnosis of diabetes (125 mg/dl or higher). Although prediabetes increases your risk for heart disease and stroke as well as diabetes, the progression is not inevitable. It is possible to control your blood sugar without drugs, using attention to diet, exercise and stress management.
Controlling Your Blood Sugar Without Drugs:
Q. I am not a pill person. I do not like taking drugs or even supplements. My doctor has told me I am prediabetic and I need to get my cholesterol under control. Do you have any recommendations how I might be able to do this through my diet?
Change Your Diet:
A. You can make a lot of progress on both fronts by cutting back on sugar and simple carbs and eating lots of non-starchy veggies. You want foods that are low in glycemic load. Adding cinnamon to your coffee grounds, drinking fenugreek tea and using a salad dressing with mustard and vinegar at most meals will also help.
You can learn how to prepare these foods and a number of others (cholesterol-controlling oatmeal, lentil nut loaf and wheat berry salad, for example) in our book, Recipes & Remedies From The People’s Pharmacy.
Pick Up the Pace:
Physical activity can make a significant difference when you want to control your blood sugar without drugs (Yanai et al, Journal of Clinical Medical Research, May 2018). Experts recommend half an hour of moving around (walking, running, gardening, dancing, playing tennis or basketball, etc.) at least five days a week. Find something you love and figure out how to fit it into your schedule so you can stick with it. This can help get cholesterol under control and reduce the risk of premature death as well (Al Rifai et al, American Heart Journal, April 2018; Meseguer Zafra et al, Hipertension y Riesgo Vascular, online April 7, 2018).
Reduce Your Stress:
Psychological stress and anxiety can contribute to poor blood sugar control. These psychological factors also influence cardiovascular health (Mathews et al, Journal of Women’s Health, online Jan. 29, 2018). Checking in with friends, listening to music, connecting with your faith community, spending time in nature or finding other ways that work for you to dispel stress can help your health overall.
You can learn more about nondrug approaches to reversing prediabetes in our Guide to Managing Diabetes.