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The #1 Worst Thing to Do For Your Blood Sugar

It's important to keep your blood sugar in a healthy range.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

It's important to keep your blood sugar in a healthy range. When it's too low, your body doesn't have enough energy to function properly, while chronically high blood sugar levels can lead to diabetes. The key to maintaining healthy blood sugar levels is to avoid habits that encourage the body to become resistant to insulin, a hormone that a helps the body produce sugar (or glucose) for energy. Insulin resistance can cause blood sugar levels to rise uncontrollably. These are the worst things you can do for your blood sugar, according to experts. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

5

Stressing Out

Female driver sits at wheel in car, touches her head.
iStock

Stress doesn't just cause headaches. Chronic stress can be destructive to the body in wide-ranging ways, including messing with your blood sugar. "Hormones from stress increase your blood pressure, raise your heart rate, and can cause blood sugar to rise," says the Cleveland Clinic. When you're stressed, your body produces more of the stress hormone cortisol. It makes muscle and fat less sensitive to insulin, meaning higher blood sugar isn't processed. If that situation becomes chronic, it can lead to diabetes.  

4

Not Getting Enough Sleep

20- or 30-something woman awake at night
Shutterstock / Syda Productions

Not getting enough sleep stresses the body, which can cause it to produce more cortisol. "Decreased sleep is a risk factor for increased blood sugar levels," says the National Sleep Foundation. "Even partial sleep deprivation over one night increases insulin resistance, which can in turn increase blood sugar levels. As a result, a lack of sleep has been associated with diabetes, a blood sugar disorder." Experts recommend getting seven to nine of hours of quality sleep a night.

3

Not Exercising

lazy couple
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Being sedentary increases your risk of obesity, which increases your risk of blood sugar-related conditions like diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Exercise lowers blood sugar by increasing insulin sensitivity, so muscle cells are better able to take up glucose instead of allowing it to build up in the blood: When muscles contract during exercise, they're better able to process glucose. "Regular exercise can help keep your blood sugar levels on track," says the CDC. Aim for 150 minutes a week.

2

Maintaining an Unhealthy Weight

overweight woman at home lying on the floor, laptop in front of her, prepared to work out on mat according to video
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"Some scientists think there is a connection between body fat and hormones that regulate appetite and insulin levels," says Johns Hopkins Medicine. Losing weight and reducing body fat can keep your blood sugar from reaching unhealthy levels. Just losing five to ten percent of your body weight can improve your blood sugar levels.

1

Eating These Foods

Man eating pizza having a takeaway at home relaxing resting
Shutterstock

Simple carbs, refined grains, processed and fast foods, and foods high in added sugar like sugar-sweetened beverages make it hard to control your blood sugar. Once consumed, those foods quickly converted into glucose, which causes blood sugar levels to spike and crash. The American Diabetes Association recommends focusing your diet on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and low-fat dairy products. "Vegetables, fruits, and whole grains provide more nutrition per calorie than refined carbohydrates and tend to be rich in fiber," says Harvard Medical School. "Your body digests high-fiber foods more slowly — which means a more moderate rise in blood sugar."

And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more about Michael