What is your A1C?
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 which carries oxygen throughout our body. 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, this provides them with an accurate percentage of your blood sugar level and how you can still plan to maintain and manage it.
Your provider may instruct you to take your A1C testing every few months because the life of a red blood cell is approximately 3 months. During this time, the glucose sticks to the cells that provide the average A1C value.
Meanwhile, 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% to 6.4% indicates a prediabetic level, and above 6.5% or more is considered 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. In order to reduce your risk, you may consider lowering your A1C.
5 Ways to Lower Your Hemoglobin A1C
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, quit sugar and choose high fiber-rich foods such as vegetables and fruits as substitutes. Empty carbohydrates (foods made with white flour, rice, pasta, corn, or potatoes) and sweetened drinks (soda, fruit drinks or shakes, energy or sports drinks, lemonades, flavored teas, mixed alcohol). Making a creative meal plan ahead of time and being aware of the amount or portion of what we eat should also be great practice and will be our 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:
- Lean meats
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole Foods
- Healthy fats, like fish and avocados
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 them and your body might not respond to it naturally. This is called insulin resistance and is one cause of higher A1C levels. Starting a regular daily routine for at least 30 minutes a day will help improve and lower your blood sugar levels.
Good choices for exercise are as follows:
- Running or Jogging
- Jumping jacks
- Climbing stairs
- Household chores
- Playing sports
All these exercises, that usually involve our whole body, will definitely boost us to shed the excess weights.
After working up a sweat, it is necessary for us to keep ourselves hydrated by drinking plenty of water to replenish our thirst instead of those sugary energy drinks. Water is a much healthier option to control blood sugar levels.
3. Weight Loss
Studies have shown that a weight loss of 5-10% can reverse prediabetes and even type 2 diabetes. Some people with a larger waist of 35 inches for women or more and 40 inches for men or more result in a higher insulin resistance rate. 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 can help modulate your blood sugar level. This is usually not the first line of defense. Healthy lifestyle changes can be a huge factor depending on your body’s response to lowering your blood sugar level in the course of time. But if your blood sugar still cannot be regulated and requires medical support to stay in control, medications can be recommended.
5. Manage Stress and Mental Health
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 every day for a relaxing activity like:
Spending time doing these activities while also spending quality time with your family and loved ones or even your fur babies will give your cortisol levels time to drop and reset. If you make a habit of relaxing every day, you will eventually prime your hormones for lower levels of stress and anxiety. Listening to soothing melodies or music therapy also shows to be effective in reducing stress and improving some cognitive functions to have more focused attention and memory enhancement. It is not advisable to use TV to relax because most programming purposefully uses tension and fast-paced action to keep your attention, and a side effect of this is that your body stays in a high-alert, high-cortisone state while you are viewing.