Your Hemoglobin A1C level shows the average of your blood sugar over the past 3 months. Hemoglobin is a protein found in your red blood cells. Sugar gets stuck and crystallizes on the red blood cell, which then becomes known as 'glycosylated hemoglobin', HbA1C, or A1C.
If you have Prediabetes or Diabetes, your provider will probably have mentioned your 'Hemoglobin A1C' or 'A1C' levels.
A high A1C level reveals Prediabetes, or Diabetes - or whether your Diabetes is under control. A non-diabetic A1C level is anything less than 5.7%, 5.7%-6.4% indicates a prediabetic level, and above 6.5% is diabetic.
If your A1C indicates prediabetic or diabetic levels of sugar, you will also be at increased risk for heart disease, kidney disease, eye disorders, nerve issues, hearing impairment, and weight gain. Lowering your A1C will reduce your risk for all of these.
The most impactful changes you can make for your blood sugar levels are dietary, specifically cutting back on or eliminating your sugar and starch consumption. If you are looking to make drastic and quick changes in your A1C levels, quitting sugar and empty carbohydrates (foods made with white flour, rice, corn, or potatoes) is your best course of action.
It can be very difficult to get rid of sweets, pasta, and bread. Place focus on replacing these foods with high-protein alternatives:
In as little as 2 weeks, you will find that your sugar and starch cravings are less powerful or have evaporated completely. Your energy level should rise as well!
Exercise naturally fires up your body's insulin activity. Insulin is the hormone that helps sugar leave your bloodstream and get into your cells to energize them. If there is too much sugar in your blood, your cells will have a hard time absorbing the sugar. This is called insulin resistance and is one cause of higher A1C levels.
Good choices for exercise are:
Studies have shown that a weight loss of 5-10% can reverse Prediabetes and even Type 2 Diabetes. Weight loss when you have extra pounds is an indication that your diet and exercise routine are coming into balance. These things will help lower your A1C as described above. A weight loss goal of even 5% will help make a difference in your A1C level.
Your provider can prescribe medications that help control blood sugar level. This is not usually a first line of defense but if your blood sugar requires medical support to stay in control, medications can help.
When our bodies are stressed or anxious, our stress hormone - cortisol - takes over. Cortisol prepares us for fight or flight by giving us an energy boost, which in fact is a blood sugar level spike.
While it is difficult to eliminate stress from your life, we recommend setting time aside everyday for a relaxing activity like:
Spending time doing these activities will give your cortisol levels time to drop and reset. If you make a habit of relaxing everyday, you will eventually prime your hormones for lower levels of stress and anxiety. It is not advisable to use TV to relax because most programming purposefully uses tension and fast-paced action to keep your attention, but a side effect of this is that your body stays in a high-alert, high-cortisone state while you are viewing.