A Naturopathic Approach to Managing Blood Sugar


The number of people with pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes is rising rapidly in Australia and it is something that should be addressed immediately via diet changes, lifestyle changes, nutritional supplements and herbs.


Our dietary choices and lifestyle practices play a huge role in either maintaining balance or spiking blood sugar levels.

Carbohydrates we eat are broken down by the body into sugar, or glucose. This sugar is then absorbed into the bloodstream (blood sugar) to be used for energy. This process is regulated by the hormone insulin, which is released by the pancreas. Any excess blood sugar unused by the body for energy is stored in your liver.

It’s all smoothly orchestrated so that you have energy when you need it – as long as your insulin levels are properly balanced! But what if they’re not? That’s when we encounter blood sugar dysregulation and diabetes.


A blood sugar imbalance can result in a list of symptoms may include:

Brain fog and mood changes: High blood glucose levels can affect brain function and neurotransmitter function. High blood sugar can damage your blood vessels, resulting in poor circulation and when there is insufficient blood circulation to the brain, you may not be able to think clearly. Symptoms of poor glycaemic regulation can also lead to irritability, anxiety, and worry.

Excess belly fat: When your body senses high glucose levels, it secretes more insulin to trigger your cells to absorb the excess glucose. Insulin also encourages fat storage, especially around the belly. Unfortunately, this can create a vicious cycle, since belly fat increases insulin resistance, so your pancreas then responds by releasing even more insulin.

Cravings: Another frustrating irony is that excess blood sugar leads to cravings for more carb-heavy and sugary foods, further adding to the cycle of insulin production.

Thyroid trouble: The link between insulin and thyroid health is complex. Excess insulin can harm the thyroid.  At the same time, a healthy thyroid helps control insulin.

Female hormone imbalance: Healthy female hormones depend upon balanced blood sugar. A key driver for PCOS is blood sugar and insulin dysregulation. In short, excess insulin produces increased amounts of testosterone, and belly fat tissue converts excess testosterone into estrogen. This produces increased estrogen in the body, which results in too little progesterone. Since progesterone is a calming hormone, too little of it means women often experience symptoms of anxiety, depression, insomnia, fertility issues, and more.

Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

People with diabetes experience problems with the production of insulin and the subsequent rise in their blood sugar.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition that prevents the pancreas from producing adequate amounts of insulin, resulting in low blood sugar levels which need to be monitored closely.

Type 2 diabetes is considered to be a “lifestyle disease”. After several years of imbalanced blood sugar levels, the body develops insulin resistance where cells don’t respond well to the insulin being released.


As mentioned, blood sugar dysregulation and type 2 diabetes is very much a lifestyle disease and certain lifestyle factors can greatly impact how well your body manages blood sugar levels. Here are our top tips for managing blood sugar for optimal health.


The most important step for stabilizing blood sugar is to avoid food and eating patterns that can lead to a sudden spike in blood sugar.

Different types of carbohydrates are digested and absorbed at different rates, based on a number of factors, including fat and fibre content, and the type of sugar the food contains.


This is where blood sugar control starts. A diet high in quality protein (ex: wild caught fish, pasture raised eggs, grass fed beef, organic beens), healthy fats (ex: nuts, seeds, olive oil, fatty fish), and natural fiber (ex: non-starchy vegetables), will promote blood sugar control. Fibre slows the absorption of glucose, so including foods with high fibre content with meals helps stabilize blood sugar. Soluble fibre, which is found in foods like oats, citrus, and many berries, is the most effective. Similarly, including protein with each meal helps slow down blood sugar spikes.


Breakfast should be the most nourishing meal of the day. Stir clear of the high carbohydrate breakfast options such as; cereals, porridge, granola, toast, muesli etc. Instead, opt for a high protein breakfast with loads of healthy vegetable fibre and healthy fats. Eg; omelette with mushrooms and avocados or a protein powder smoothie with nuts and seeds.


The glycemic index (GI) was developed to measure food’s impact on blood sugar. The higher the food is found on the index the faster it spikes blood sugar, while the foods found on the lower end of the glycemic index are more slowly digested and absorbed. Note that the glycemic index only applies to foods that contain carbohydrates.

A number of studies have found that following a low glycemic diet can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Following a low glycemic diet doesn’t have to be difficult. Along with including fibre and protein in each meal, it’s simply a matter of swapping a high-GI food for a lower-GI choice.


The drinks we consume have a big impact on blood sugar. That’s because drinks are easily digested, resulting in a quick shot of blood glucose. One study found that people who drink at least one sweet drink a day have a 26 percent higher chance of developing diabetes!

Choosing an alternative isn’t always straightforward, however. Be careful with artificially sweetened drinks, as studies have linked some artificial sweeteners with an increased risk of diabetes as well as other diseases.

Fruit juices should also be limited because of their high natural sugar content — the glycemic index for fruit juice is very high, because it lacks the fibre found in whole fruit. Instead, blend up whole fruit so that you get the fibre content, and be sure to add a source of protein and fat like nut butter or avocado.

Water is always a good beverage choice for managing blood sugar, since it’s important to stay hydrated so you can eliminate excess glucose through urination.


Exercise helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels by increasing insulin sensitivity and making your muscles more efficient in their absorption of that glucose it needs for energy. Studies suggest high-intensity interval training is the most effective, but many people find it difficult to keep up that level of intensity on a regular basis. A combination of a form of cardio that you can maintain over the long haul, plus resistance training, is an excellent and sustainable approach.

Getting enough sleep is important to stabilize blood sugar, since regular sleep helps maintain hormonal balance and a healthy weight. Frustratingly, high blood sugar can interfere with getting restful sleep, as blood sugar spikes can wake you during the night. Practice good sleep hygiene, including sleeping in a cool, dark room and limiting sugar, stimulants, and refined carbohydrates of any kind before bedtime.


Here are a few examples of supplements and herbs that I use within my clinic to help stabilise blood glucose levels. Bear in mind, that when I am completing my recommendations, I look at the health of the whole person, so I may include a range of nervous system support recommendations, liver support advice, sleep support and overall weight loss advice. Always seek the advice of a professional before trying any new supplement.

  • Chromium
  • Magnesium
  • Cinnamon
  • Gymnema
  • Milk Thistle
  • Berberine

If you need advice about how to support your blood sugar levels, or other areas of your health and wellbeing then please get in touch today.