What is an A1C?
This is a simple blood test which measures the amount of glucose in the blood and gives the doctor a percentage of how much glucose is found in the blood. For people with diabetes, this test is incredibly important, as it shows whether or not their plan to manage their diabetes is working. Having an A1C that is too high suggests that the program is not working, and additional measures – such as medications or insulation doses – may need to be taken.
An A1C that provides a lower number indicates that the person’s diabetes is under control. A lower A1C also means that there is a smaller risk for complications from diabetes.
How to Lower Your A1C
Lowering your A1C doesn’t have to be difficult, Here are several ways to reduce your A1C that are easy to incorporate into your daily life.
1. Develop a routine.
Eating on time helps stabilize your blood sugar both immediately and in the long-term. When you wait too long to eat, your blood sugar drops. Additionally, when you eat too frequently, you are likely to experience spikes in your blood sugar levels.
Your eating schedule will likely be based on other activities, such as work and school. Once you develop a routine, be sure to stick to it on the days that are not regulated by other obligations to stay on track.
It is also a good idea to carry snacks with you that are high in protein and complex carbohydrates, such as cheese and crackers. If you find you frequently experience extreme drops in your blood sugar while adapting to a new schedule, ask your doctor or pharmacist about carrying a blood sugar booster such as Glucagon, Chewable tablets like this help you to quickly raise your blood sugar if it drops dangerously low.
2. Stick to a healthy diet.
What you eat is just as important as how often you eat. If you consistently consume sugars and simple carbohydrates, your blood sugar will spike and drop quickly, since your body does not have complex carbohydrates to fuel itself for long periods.
The exact number of carbohydrates each person needs varies; however, most doctors recommend 45-60 grams of complex carbohydrates per meal, and 15-30 grams per snack. Complex carbs can be found in grains such as brown rice and oatmeal, as well as starchy vegetables like yams and potatoes.
Additionally, it is important to remember that many beverages contain simple carbs. Sodas, sweet teas, sports drinks, and fruit juice all contain high amounts of sugars, and drinking your carbs is just as counter-productive as eating them. Try to drink plain water to stay hydrated. Good alternatives also include flavor enhancers made with sweeteners like Stevia.
Getting regular exercise is crucial if you want to lower your A1C. As you exercise, your muscles become more sensitive to insulin. This means your muscles can absorb more sugar from your blood.
Engaging in physical activity doesn’t mean you have to sign up for the next Crossfit class. You can start small, like going for a walk, or sign up for a community sports league. Aim to be active for thirty minutes a day for five days out of the week.
Remember that activities, like walking the dog and taking the stairs at work, are still active movement, even if they don’t seem like exercise.
4. Check your sugar regularly.
How often you need to check your sugars is at the discretion of your physician. Checking your sugars regularly means you can keep a close eye on your sugar levels, and determine if your daily routine of healthy eating and exercising is working correctly with any medications you’re taking. If your sugar levels are consistently high, consider this an indication that you need to review your diabetes management plan with your physician.
5. Do your research about diabetes.
If you have recently been diagnosed with diabetes, or are just beginning to figure out how to lower your A1C, it can be constructive to spend some time becoming familiar with the way your body processes sugar, the different types of carbohydrates, and what you need to manage your diabetes effectively.
6. Plan for the holidays.
Once you have your plan in place and are used to your routine, chances are good there will be a special event or holiday. Often these events are overflowing with sugary treats and drinks, and it is incredibly easy to be distracted from lowering your A1C.
Pay attention to the sugars you consume and don’t neglect to test your blood sugar. If appropriate, have a friend or family member act as a support person who will help you stay on track.
Keep in mind that your A1C levels won’t drop overnight. Overall, the higher your A1C is, the more quickly it will come down. Lowering your A1C is an ongoing process and will take several months.