How to Control Hyperglycemia With Diet

Hyperglycemia (high blood glucose) is a condition that occurs when the glucose levels in your blood rise too high. Hyperglycemia is commonly a symptom and complication of diabetes and can cause vomiting, excessive hunger and thirst, rapid heartbeat, vision problems, and other symptoms.

Left untreated, hyperglycemia can cause serious health problems including damage to your nerves, blood vessels, tissues, and organs. Learn more about ways to manage your hyperglycemia with diet.

Woman who is hyperglycemic pricking her finger for a blood test.

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Can You Manage Hyperglycemia With Dietary Changes?

People with type 1 or type 2 diabetes can manage or prevent hyperglycemia by:

  • Managing stress
  • Exercising
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Taking oral medications

Additionally, with the right dietary changes, you can sometimes keep hyperglycemia in check without medication. However, it's critical to understand how to leverage the foods you eat to obtain the greatest benefit.

Carbs and Fiber

Carbohydrates and fiber in food all affect your blood sugar in various ways:

  • Carbs can boost your blood sugar faster and higher than protein or fat.
  • Fiber is beneficial because it can help you control your blood sugar.

Carbs that have fiber in them won’t raise your blood sugar as quick as carbs with little or no fiber.

The goal is to balance the types of foods you eat from each group so your blood sugar remains stable.

Dietary Considerations to Lower Blood Sugar

People with hyperglycemia must pay close attention to what and how much they eat to ensure they don't trigger spikes in blood sugar.

It's important to work with your healthcare provider or dietitian to create an individualized meal plan to achieve this goal.

Low-Glycemic Index Foods and Carb Intake

The glycemic index (GI) ranks foods according to how many carbohydrates they contain. The GI of a food will vary depending on the rate of digestion. The faster the digestion of a food, the higher the GI value.

Carbs are important to monitor when you have hyperglycemia because eating carbs drives up blood sugar. The digestive system breaks down digestible carbohydrates into sugar, which then enters the blood.

With this in mind, choosing low-glycemic foods with the help of the GI is ideal to help prevent blood sugar irregularities. Ultimately, you’ll want to plan for regular, balanced meals to avoid high or low blood sugar levels. Eating about the same amount of carbs at each meal can help.

The threshold for "low" GI on the index is less than 55, and “low” carbohydrate intake is usually accepted as less than 130 grams per day.

Water Intake

Water is crucial for overall health. Plain water is the best zero-calorie option for quenching your thirst if you have hyperglycemia.

Other water-based drinks can count toward fluid intake, too, but you should aim for those containing the least amount of sugar possible. Unsweetened coffee and tea are examples of healthy choices.

Drinking plenty of water is an important component of managing and preventing hyperglycemia. A 2017 study, among others, show that low daily total water intake is associated with increased cases of hyperglycemia. The study showed that acute low water intake can result in impaired blood glucose regulation in people with type 2 diabetes.

How Much Water Should You Drink?

The National Academy of Medicine suggests healthy men drink about 13 cups of daily fluids and healthy women drink about 9 cups.

Soluble Fiber and Legumes

Eating soluble fiber foods may reduce the risk of developing diabetes and also lower glycemic levels. Soluble means something can be dissolved in water.

A 2016 study showed that among other benefits, increasing the amount and regularly eating foods rich in soluble fiber significantly lowers fasting blood glucose and triglyceride levels, and improves insulin resistance.

In addition to these benefits, many low-GI foods are high in fiber content, which prolongs the distension of the gastrointestinal tract and makes you feel fuller longer. Delaying hunger for longer periods of time may also cut down on how much you eat and therefore how many total carbs you may consume per day.

Oats are an excellent source of soluble dietary fiber that are rich in β-glucan, which helps reduce glucose and insulin responses. Oats are also beneficial to heart health.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has suggested that consuming 3 grams or more per day of β-glucan from oats or barley may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

Best Fiber Soluble Foods to Control Blood Glucose

Fiber soluble foods include:

  • Oat bran 
  • Oatmeal
  • Barley
  • Broccoli
  • Citrus fruits
  • Legumes

Legumes are another great source of soluble fiber and, independently, may help lower hyperglycemia and improve glycemic control.

Legumes, including beans, chickpeas, and lentils, are among the lowest glycemic index foods.

A 2012 study showed that a low-GI legume diet lowered A1C levels and cardiovascular risk in people with type 2 diabetes.

The recommended amount of fibers and whole grains is about 25 grams per day for adult women and 38 grams per day for adult men.

Fish

Fish is another food to consider adding to a glycemic-friendly diet.

A 2014 study showed that lean fish consumption of 75 to 100 grams per day had a beneficial effect on type 2 diabetes without any unfavorable side effects. However, it remains unclear whether lean fish in itself has a protective effect on type 2 diabetes or that people who eat lean fish have a protective lifestyle.

Certain Types of Dairy

Most dairy products have a low glycemic index (below 55).

A 2014 study showed that among different types of dairy products, neither low-fat nor high-fat dairy intake was linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. However, there is especially good news for yogurt lovers. Eating yogurt was consistently and inversely associated with type 2 diabetes risk.

Garlic

Garlic is a known superfood. Ingesting garlic can:

  • Help your heart
  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Provide antioxidants

Garlic has superstar benefits in hyperglycemia management, too.

A 2013 study showed that garlic lowers glycemia and lipid levels. Eating garlic, especially raw garlic, can have noticeable side effects such as heartburn, foul breath, gas, nausea, and upset stomach. So take care in what form and how much garlic you ingest at any given time.

You should consult your healthcare provider before taking garlic for medicinal use because it can adversely affect certain medical conditions.

A Word From Verywell

With smart and careful planning, hyperglycemia can be managed with the help of the foods you eat. Remember to create a strategy with your healthcare provider and bring any challenges with controlling your glucose levels to their attention.

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11 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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