Cherie Berkley is an award-winning journalist and multimedia storyteller covering health features for Verywell.
Dr. Danielle Weiss is double board-certified in internal medicine and endocrinology. She is the founder of the Center for Hormonal Health and Well-Being in San Diego, California.
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.
People with type 1 or type 2 diabetes can manage or prevent hyperglycemia by:
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.
Carbohydrates and fiber in food all affect your blood sugar in various ways:
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.
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.
Verywell / Jessica Olah
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 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.
The National Academy of Medicine suggests healthy men drink about 13 cups of daily fluids and healthy women drink about 9 cups.
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.
Fiber soluble foods include:
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 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.
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 is a known superfood. Ingesting garlic can:
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.
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.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Diabetes meal planning.
Harvard School of Public Health. Carbohydrates and blood sugar.
Kelly T, Unwin D, Finucane F. Low-carbohydrate diets in the management of obesity and type 2 diabetes: A review from clinicians using the approach in practiceInt J Environ Res Public Health. 2020;17(7):2557. doi:10.3390/ijerph17072557
Johnson EC, Bardis CN, Jansen LT, Adams JD, Kirkland TW, Kavouras SA. Reduced water intake deteriorates glucose regulation in patients with type 2 diabetes. Nutr Res. 2017;43:25-32. doi:10.1016/j.nutres.2017.05.004
Harvard School of Public Health. Water.
Chen C, Zeng Y, Xu J, et al. Therapeutic effects of soluble dietary fiber consumption on type 2 diabetes mellitusExp Ther Med. 2016;12(2):1232-1242. doi:10.3892/etm.2016.3377
Hou Q, Li Y, Li L, et al. The metabolic effects of oats intake in patients with type 2 diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysisNutrients. 2015 Dec;7(12):10369-10387. doi:10.3390/nu7125536
Jenkins DJA, Kendall CWC, Augustin LSA, et al. Effect of legumes as part of a low glycemic index diet on glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes mellitus: a randomized controlled trialArch Intern Med. 2012;172(21):1653. doi:10.1001/2013.jamainternmed.70
Rylander C, Sandanger TM, Engeset D, Lund E. Consumption of lean fish reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus: A prospective population based cohort study of Norwegian women. PLoS ONE. 2014 Feb;9(2): e89845.
Chen, M, Sun, Q, Giovannucci, E. et al. Dairy consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: 3 cohorts of US adults and an updated meta-analysisBMC Med. 2014; 12, 215.
Kumar R, Chhatwal S, Arora S, et al. Antihyperglycemic, antihyperlipidemic, anti-inflammatory and adenosine deaminase- lowering effects of garlic in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus with obesityDiabetes Metab Syndr Obes. 2013;6:49-56. doi:10.2147/DMSO.S38888
By Cherie Berkley, MS
Cherie Berkley is an award-winning journalist and multimedia storyteller covering health features for Verywell.

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