Save your life—and prevent diabetes—by soothing your blood sugar with this simple eight-step plan
1. Exercise Like It's a Prescription
That means at least 20 to 30 minutes every day. It takes only a few days of missed workouts and poor eating to worsen a person's insulin resistance, says Barry Braun, Ph.D., an associate professor of kinesiology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. To make sure you stick with it, choose the exercise that you enjoy the most.
2. Sprinkle More Cinnamon
Studies show it can improve insulin sensitivity. This means your body needs less of the hormone insulin to keep your blood-sugar levels in check. "The cheap supermarket stuff works just as well as expensive supplement versions," says Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., C.N.S., author of The Most Effective Natural Cures on Earth.
3. If You Have High Blood Glucose…
…take alpha lipoic acid. "This supplement is unexcelled as a blood-sugar nutrient and is a prescription item in Europe," says Bowden. He recommends taking 300 milligrams twice a day. Puritan's Pride Alpha Lipoic Acid is reasonably priced and passed purity tests at consumerlab.com.
4. Skip the Sugary Sports Drinks
University of Massachusetts scientists recently discovered that exercising improved insulin sensitivity by 40 percent when a 500-calorie deficit was created, but produced no improvement when the burned energy was immediately replaced with mostly carbohydrates.
5. Invest in a Glucose Monitor
It'll allow you to find out how specific meals, foods, and beverages affect your blood sugar. One option is the TrueTrack Smart System brand (cvs.com). Simply prick your finger 2 hours after a meal. The number shouldn't be above 139 mg/dl, and it shouldn't be below 100 or your fasting number—whichever is lower, says Keith W. Berkowitz, M.D. If you fall out of that range, you need an oral glucose-tolerance test.
6. Snack on Pumpkin or Sunflower Seeds
A small handful won't impact blood sugar, and they're rich in magnesium, a mineral that fights insulin resistance, according to a 2006 study from Tufts University researchers.
7. Eat Every 2 to 3 Hours
Eating this often helps prevent drops in blood sugar, which can lead to sugar binges, says Dr. Berkowitz.
8. Check Your Meds
If you're taking a thiazide diuretic for hypertension, ask your doctor about switching to an ACE inhibitor. A 2006 Hypertension review of 59 drug trials found a "strong relationship" between low potassium levels caused by diuretics and increased blood glucose.
Next Discussion: What is your idea of a cure? »