ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How To Manage Your Blood Sugar Levels

Updated on August 13, 2013


  • What is blood sugar?
  • What are normal blood sugar levels?
  • Why do blood sugar levels change during the day/night?
  • Intro to basics of high blood sugar (eg diabetes) and low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) & their symptoms & dangers.
  • How to measure your blood sugar levels
  • How to manage your blood sugar levels (without medication)
  • Links to great "blood sugar management" cookbooks & recommended reading.

Disclaimer: I'm not an expert on this topic but I have relatives that suffer from Type 2 diabetes, so it is important to try to understand the factors that influence blood glucose to effectively manage it. Feel free to discuss or dispute anything in this hub.

What Is Blood Sugar?

Your blood sugar level, or blood glucose level, refers to the concentration of sugar (in the form of glucose) in your blood. The unit of measurement is millimoles per liter (mmol/L).

Why is there sugar in the blood? Every time you eat food, your body has the task of breaking that food down into a useable form of energy it can use to keep you functioning properly. All foods are (generally) made up of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, fiber and water. Carbohydrate rich foods give your body its main form of energy. They get broken down into glucose and move into the bloodstream where they are absorbed by cells for use or storage. Glucose, or "blood sugar", is likened to "the gasoline that is essential to make your car run".



Normal Blood Sugar Levels

The following guide for "normal" blood sugar levels is given in "Prescription for Nutritional Healing (4th Ed)" by certified nutrional consultant Phyllis A. Balch (a highly recommended book for your home library - see link under recommended reading).

Note: to convert mg/dL to mmol/L, just divide these figures by 18.

eg 110 mg/dL / 18 --> 6.1 mmol/L

(C) "Prescription for Nutritional Healing (4th Edition)" by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC
(C) "Prescription for Nutritional Healing (4th Edition)" by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC

Why Blood Sugar Levels Change During The Day

Your blood sugar levels vary during the day/night. The direction it varies (up or down) is due to a number of factors such as those listed below:

1. Eating food. As the carbs in food break down, glucose is released into the bloodstream ready to be absorbed by cells. Increased glucose in the bloodstream = higher blood sugar level.

2. Exercise. Exercise provides many benefits to your body, including burning excess sugar and reducing insulin resistance (by making cells more receptive to insulin, so rather than requiring more insulin to facilitate glucose uptake, the insulin you already have becomes a bit more effective). However the effect on blood sugar depends on the type of exercise, the duration of exercise, glucose and insulin levels before you start exercising.

During long, intense workouts the body may release adrenaline which counteracts the efforts of insulin. The normal process for blood sugar would be to be absorbed by cells (via insulin) for utilization or storage. Adrenaline causes the glucose to be redirected to where it is required for use immediately rather than for storage. Read more here.

3. Your physiology. The fitter you are the better. More specifically, if you have a greater muscle to fat ratio, you will burn energy at a faster rate and therefore be more effective at reducing your blood glucose level. Also, muscles do not rely on insulin to absorb/use blood glucose - same goes for the brain.

(My sister gave me this great analogy - imagine a small muscle and a large muscle contracting at the same time. Which one would use/burn more energy to contract? The big one, simply because it is a bigger muscle!)

4. Emotions. Stress increases your blood glucose level. It also causes some people to forget to take their medication, turn to comfort foods, overeat and therefore introduce a higher than normal amount of glucose in the blood.

5. Sleeping. People often talk about "dawn phenomenon" with regard to diabetes, where your blood sugar level spikes in the mornings as a result of the body releasing hormones which increase insulin resistance (perhaps). The cause of this is unknown. However, another explanation could be a slow metabolism of dinner from the night before. Some research also suggests that not getting enough sleep causes the liver to produce/release more glucose, hence increasing your blood sugar levels.

6. Medications. Obviously, the medication you take regulates your blood sugar level and therefore your readings during the day, depending on when you took the medication.

Image (C)
Image (C)

Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar)

In contrast to diabetes, hypoglycemia is characterized by low blood sugar due to insulin excess. In a similar fashion to the release of insulin to faciliate glucose uptake when blood sugar is high, the pancreas releases glucagon (another hormone) when the blood sugar drops below a certain level. Glucagon triggers the release of glucose into the bloodstream from stores (eg from liver).

Your brain needs a minimum amount of sugar to function properly (& fortunately does not rely on insulin). With excess insulin, sugar is directed to other insulin-dependent cells in the body, potentially leaving very little for the brain. This could lead to unconsciousness. People that suffer from hypoglycemia generally carry sweets in their pocket for a quick fix.

Symptoms: trouble speaking, weakness, palpitations, a sense of urgency to go and eat

Detection: training, monitoring blood sugar levels

Dangers: Unconsciousness (diabetic coma), death

Diabetes (High Blood Sugar)

Everybody has heard of diabetes. There are a number of types of diabetes but Type 1 & Type 2 are relatively well known.

Type 1 is where your body is unable to produce insulin. In Type 2, your body produces insulin but it does not work effectively.

In both cases, blood glucose level is higher than normal (hyperglycemia). Those with Type 1 diabetes require regular insulin injections usually after meals. People with Type 2 diabetes (up to 90% of people with diabetes have this type) can often manage their condition through exercise and diet. Refer to section below on how to manage your blood sugar levels.

Symptoms: fatigue, unexplained weight loss, excessive urination, blurry vision, moody, irritability, unable to focus attention properly.

Detection: blood test (fasting), urine test

Dangers: kidney damage, heart disease, stroke

Recommended Reading

The Low Blood Sugar Handbook: You Don't Have to Suffer
The Low Blood Sugar Handbook: You Don't Have to Suffer

The chapters of the book deal with such practical matters as being able to identify if you have low blood sugar, what it is, how serious it is and what to do if you have the condition.


Biosensor Monitoring Technology

How To Measure Your Blood Sugar Levels

There are a number of ways you can measure your blood sugar levels.

1. At the doctor's surgery:

Your doctor can take a blood test to determine the amount of glucose present in the sample. This is usually taken after a period of fasting (fast overnight and have a test done before you eat anything the next morning).

Also, a urine test can be taken to detect the presence of sugar in the urine. The concentration of sugar in the blood needs to get up to 3 x normal levels before sugar starts spilling into urine for a quick elimination from the body. So this is also a good indication of elevated blood sugar levels.

2. At home

At home you can get a machine that gives you a digital reading of your blood sugar level. All you do is prick your finger (with a tool provided - this is very quick and doesn't hurt that much) and squeeze a dot of blood onto the tip of one of the "strips" provided. The other end of the strip is inserted into the machine which displays your reading after a few seconds.

People with diabetes measure their blood sugar levels regularly. Those that are newly diagnosed should take measurements a few times a day and at different times eg before/after meals. As you keep a record, you can see how different foods affect blood glucose levels and you can begin to tailor a diet to suit the unique response of your body.

3. In the future...

Technology is always getting better, smaller, more efficient, less painful etc. There is ongoing research to develop pain-free, blood-free non-invasive ways to monitor blood sugar levels (see attached video).

Also for people that are completely terrified of needles, check this out. Soon you can be measuring your blood sugar levels on your cell phone!

Image credit:
Image credit:

How To Manage Your Blood Sugar Levels


Glycemic Index

The glycemic index (GI) is simply a method of comparing foods based on how quickly they affect your blood sugar levels. High GI foods get converted to glucose more quickly, giving you a quick energy spike. Low GI foods are slower to digest and provide a more steadier form of energy for the body.

How and when to eat

Eating smaller meals more regularly (eg 6 meals a day instead of 3) will condition your body to "know" that the next meal is not that far away, giving a more constant supply of energy.

Which foods are low GI foods which help to manage blood sugar (and energy) levels?

A comprehensive list of low GI foods can be found at this link. Also refer to the list of specialized cookbooks below, catered for low sugar, low GI and diabetic diets to help you manage your blood sugar levels.

If you like your sugar, perhaps use some alternatives to sugar.

Top 100 Best Foods For Higher Productivity

Are there any herbs that lower blood sugar?

This article (pdf) from the online journal of AAIM list some herbs that may be useful, however more study is needed. Some include american ginseng, chinese cinnamon, fenugreek, ginger, prickly pear and turmeric. All herbs should be taken with caution - excess could lead to hypoglycemia.

What if you are pregnant?

Pregnant women should avoid eating too many sugary foods and deserts as there is a risk of developing gestational diabetes. In particular a diet of complex carbohydrates, low fat and high in fiber helps.

Meditation and yoga are 2 ways you can control your stress levels.
Meditation and yoga are 2 ways you can control your stress levels.



You can start by making small changes to your daily routine - taking the stairs, riding a bike, walking etc. Ideally over time you would incorporate a combination of a range of different exercises such as aerobic, strength and flexibility exercises.

Don't overdo it. 30 mins a day can be enough to make a difference, however each person's situation is different. As described above, exercise can influence the way your body reacts to insulin, but the benefits are greater. A rule of thumb from Diabetes Australia: if you're not breathing faster than normal, what you're doing is not helping. On the other hand, if you can't talk while exercising, it's too strenuous.

(Also, be sure to wear comfortable shoes. When diagnosing diabetes, doctors sometimes check a person's feet for poor circulation, which can lead to infections or slow healing of bruises. Smoking also reduces blood supply to your feet - so QUIT!)

Build Muscle because since muscle tissue does not rely on insulin to make use of blood sugar, the more muscle you have, the more easily you can get rid of excess blood sugar when you work out.

Reduce stress

Try to eliminate the cause of your stress if possible.

If not then take up a hobby, play an instrument or listen to music, learn how to release those bottled up emotions, take up self defense or boxing (if it makes you feel better).

A big factor that influences whether or not you get stressed is the way you think. If you find you are getting stressed often then consider that you may have to "control your thoughts". Try to see things from the other person's point of view and become an observer to your feelings to a situation rather than giving in to instinctive reactions. (People that master this go a long way.)

Also, prevention is the key! So practice deep breathing, take up meditation or yoga and continue exercising to benefit from the endorphins! You might be surprised but prayer really helps as well.

Join a support group or internet forum

This is great especially if you are struggling. If you join a support group in your community or post on an internet forum you will meet other people who may have advice or can help you on your journey to blood sugar level mastery. 


This is the least preferred method and should be used as a last resort. If you have Type 1 diabetes, then regular insulin injections are required.

Often other conditions are found in conjunction with diabetes, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol. Medication may be given to help control these as well.

Blood Sugar Diets & Cookbooks

The Low Blood Sugar Cookbook: Sugarless Cooking for Everyone
The Low Blood Sugar Cookbook: Sugarless Cooking for Everyone

200 natural food recipes that can be used to make the hypoglycemic's life more enjoyable



    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Dania Razzak profile image

      Foyjur Razzak 

      5 years ago from Dhaka

      Exercise will help lower blood sugar levels by increasing insulin sensitivity. For a diabetic person to do aerobic and resistance training exercises in order to achieve the most beneficial results.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I guess it should come as no surprise that exercise and eating healthy is the best medicine for diabetes. The trick is in finding a meal plan that suits your tastes otherwise you will have a hard time following it. Especially if you're as finicky as me.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great article, but you need to go beyond just controlling your blood sugar. I discovered this when I was diabetic with an average BS of 265. After trying several programs, my wife came across this book "Death to Diabetes". I thought the name of the book was a little strange, but the program addresses the real causes of your diabetes such that your body repairs the damage caused by the diabetes.

      My BS went down to 150, then 111, then, 99, and today my average BS is 91, and my a1c went from 9.7 and today it's 5.7%. Plus, I lost 47 pounds, and I feel 10 years younger! Plus my blood pressure came down so far that my own doctor took me off the hypertension drugs, and the cholesterol drug as well.

      Side benefit: My wife ate the same meals I ate by following the Death to Diabetes cookbook recipes, and she lost 31 pounds! (and, looks great!)

      p.s. This book "Death to Diabetes" was written by a biochemist or engineer who almost died from diabetes. But, his doctor no longer requires that he take insulin or any diabetic drugs.

    • Putz Ballard profile image

      Putz Ballard 

      8 years ago

      Great hub and helpful strategies. I just learned my glucose levels are a little high and am monitoring as well as taking a couple of meds to control. I have begun to walk more and eat healthier.

    • Iggy Sarducci profile image

      Iggy Sarducci 

      8 years ago from Wherever I am now

      This is an incredibly helpful, thorough article. Nice work!

    • Health Champion profile image

      Health Champion 

      8 years ago from Gillingham, Dorset, UK

      Very interesting and informative, particularly about how lack of sleep can lead to higher glucose levels. I'm experiencing that today!

      I have type 1 diabetes and I have achieved normal average blood sugar levels, so it can be done!

    • marcofratelli profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Australia

      doitrightnow I really appreciate the positive feedback & especially the added step of bookmarking :) Thanks so much!

    • doitrightnow profile image


      8 years ago from San Juan, PR

      Thanks for making the distinction between hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia. Too many people are confused about this. It's just as dangerous to have too much sugar as too little in your blood. I upped this article and Digged it too. Thanks!

    • marcofratelli profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Australia

      It's great you're getting in early cashmere, the trick is to make the changes you need to make and let it become habit. :)

    • cashmere profile image


      8 years ago from India

      My husband has been described as pre-diabetic and now we are boning up on what exactly this is all about. Thanks for a very informative hub.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Very thorough. I have a family history of diabetes and am trying to take care of myself.

    • marcofratelli profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Australia

      Thanks mate, the more people it helps the better :)

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I agree with most here; very comprehensive and super well written hub. Diseases like diabetes, heart diseases, stroke and etc are the top list for most patients. Especially at a later age. Very good hub..:)=

    • marcofratelli profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Australia

      Thanks willymckay, I'll keep an eye out for that blog!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Hi marcofratelli,

      I have set up a blog on the Glycemic Index and learning about it as I go.I have friends who will want to read this.What an informative hub you have here.Congratulations!

    • marcofratelli profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Australia

      carolegalassi, I think everyone's downfall is pastries! haha Awesome to hear you've got it under control. Thanks for dropping by. :)

    • carolegalassi profile image


      9 years ago from California

      Thank you for this extremely detailed explaination on blood glucose. I have struggled a bit with hypoglycemia but now have it for the most part under control when I stay away from high carb foods and exercise regularly. The section you wrote regarding exercising was very helpful to know how exactly it impacts my glucose levels. I always knew it did but didn't really know how it was happening.

      My downfall is pastries!

    • JPSO138 profile image


      9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines, International

      Very helpful and informative. I am sending this to my friend since she is a diabetic. It will surely help her.

    • marcofratelli profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Australia

      Thanks Katina, I've been slipping on my diet lately. Although I'm not diabetic, I know people who are - I need to exercise more and eat less sugar. :)

    • Katina R profile image

      Katina R 

      9 years ago

      I have been hypoglycemic most of my life and am now at the threshold of being diabetic. I am working my diet and that is helping. Numbers are good. Thank you for the informative hub.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Very good hub, i have put some yoga exercise in my hub that would help you to manage diabetes and some home remedies to cure diabetes

    • Mr Nice profile image

      Mr Nice 

      9 years ago from North America

      Very comprehensive hub on diabetes.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)