How to lower A1C ?

Submitted by Thiruvelan on Fri, 07/15/2011
Lowering A1C

Know your limits, but never stop trying to exceed them.

High A1C means there are more chances of developing diabetes complications of heart, kidneys, eyes, and nerves.

A low-carbohydrate diet supplemented with regular exercise can lower your HbA1c. Laying off the simple carbohydrates help a lot.

What should be your A1C number?

The clinical study, as well as Dr. Richard K. Bernstein experience, confirmed an A1C target of 4 to 4.6%.

This goal helps to avoid diabetes complications and provide the longest life expectancy.

Right A1C for you is based on:

  • Your age,
  • Ability to identify hypoglycemia,
  • The frequency of hypoglycemia,
  • Other health conditions you have, and
  • Expected life expectancy.

Optimal A1C is better if you can achieve it without any hypoglycemia risk. If you cannot be able to identify your early symptoms of hypo, then you should aim for higher-end A1C. Discuss with your health professional to help set a perfect A1C goal for you.

My A1C is high! How can I lower my A1C?

First, do not get to discourage over your numbers. Trends are more concern than a single test.

Everyone agrees elevated blood sugar leads to diabetic complications. You know the blood sugar goals advised by the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) & Australian Diabetes Association (ADS) is very high.

To solve problems, dig at the roots instead of just hacking at the leaves.

For healthy non-diabetics fasting blood sugar stay within 70 to 100 mg/dL (3.8 to 5.5 mmol/l). After meals (post-meal) it can rise to 120 mg/dL or 6.7 mmol/l and drops below 100 mg/dL or 5.5 mmol/l within two hours.

However, do not fix any target that is hard to achieve. It may make you disappoint and lose heart to deliver it again. Instead, aim for an easy target, once you realized it; you gain knowledge and confidence to proceed to the next level.

Achieving your set target is not an easy job. It requires patience, interest to learn, ability to analyze, willpower to accept failures, and stick with lifestyle changes.

Below are the 17 Proven ways to lower A1C:

  1. Achieve BS target: Try to maintain your BS as close to the healthy non-diabetic range. If you are experiencing hypoglycemia, then you should be lenient until you understand and learn to avoid hypo.
  2. Understand influencing factors: Many things may affect your blood sugar. They are food type, calorie intake, eating time, routines, stress, infection, sleep quality, illness, and weather. Try to figure out which one affects you most and learn how to calm it.
  3. Restrict in calorie intake: Most of us are consuming excess calories than needed! This excess calorie might be the reason for many health conditions. A study shows those who are on restricted calories lead a healthy life and best life expectancy than others. Restricting calorie help lower your BS & A1C and improve health in unexpected ways. Calculate your daily calories requirement and distribute it throughout the day.
  4. Choose a healthy diet: Avoid sugar, refined carbs, and high glycemic carbs. However, you can enjoy on some occasions (festivals), rare high BS does not cause significant damage.  A healthy diabetes diet is effective in blood-glucose management.
  5. How many carbs is ok? Learn carbohydrate counting in your meals, take only good carbs, and know the glycemic index of carb foods. Prefer low glycemic index foods such as beans, seeds, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Try achieving your target by changing your diet, their combination, timing, and or its frequency.
  6. Low or high carb diet: Type 2 diabetes has a problem with carbohydrate metabolism. For type 1 diabetes high carb diet makes it difficult to manage BS. Thus it is better to go for a low carb diet. So whether you are type 1 or type 2, a low carb diet is helpful. However, do not lose the nutritional benefits of vegetables and fruits. Replace high carbs such as potatoes, ripped bananas, and grains with a moderate carb such as nuts, seeds, greens, and citrus fruits. You can lower your carb in steps until you reach your A1C goal.
  7. Take meal same time every day: Taking your meals in time could stop BS fluctuation. The same applies to every mealtime; but, if you wish, you can skip dinner with just a glass of warm milk with a pinch of turmeric.
  8. Foods to lower A1C: Certain foods and herbs can help lower your A1C. Useful foods are avocados, citrus fruits, cold-water fish, fiber-rich foods, legumes, nuts, green tea, spinach, cocoa, red wine, and vinegar. Useful herbs are cinnamon, fenugreek, and garlic. Try incorporating these into your regular diet.
  9. Exercise lowers your A1C: It reduces insulin resistance and helps move the glucose better into your muscles. Burning more sugar lower your blood sugar and A1C. Diabetes exercise makes you physically & mentally feel better and stress-free. This peaceful state helps lower blood glucose spikes. If you build muscles, then it increases your calorie consumption, which in turn contribute to maintaining good BS.
  10. Weight loss reduces A1C: Losing weight reduces insulin resistance, thus drop in BS and A1C.  Many studies have confirmed that losing weight help insulin or medicines to work better. Therefore, need lesser medication, improves BS, lower A1C, and reduced risk towards complications — additionally, lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Even just 5 to 10% weight loss makes a huge health benefit. You can lose weight by calorie restriction and increased physical activity.
  11. Stress fluctuates A1C: Stress, depression (losing loved ones), anger (no increment), anxiety (about a key presentation), and panic can fluctuate your BS and A1C. The stress put you on the fight or flee response mode; your number becomes crazy and would not stabilize. Many studies confirm negative mind affects your number even if you are perfect in other things. The positive thought makes a huge benefit in attaining optimal A1C and improved wellness. Stress boost hormones, which make it harder for insulin to perform its duty. Keep yourself cool using music, dancing, aerobics, yoga, and meditation.
  12. Infection of any form raises BS levels: And high blood sugar increases infection risk. You can even suspect infection if your glucose level is up unexpectedly. Beware of oral diseases; brush twice daily, floss after meals, and scrap tartar & plaque regularly.
  13. Avoid mistakes: Periodically confirm that your glucose meter is accurate. Be sure you are pricking your finger correctly. Choose proper lab for error-free A1C result. Be careful about the expiry date of the medicines.
  14. Don't expect too much too soon: Do not rush to see results. Instead, be slow and consistent to achieve a permanent, stable result. To make a lasting change, take small steps, and set achievable goals. If you try more than you can handle, you might end up quitting. Don't set unrealistic goals, set reachable goals based on your potential.
  15. Medication is not everything: Many patients think medicine can fix diabetes. It is only a small part of diabetes management. You need to support it with proper diet and physical activity for it to work and produce the expected result. Many diabetes type 2 can control BS without medicine by a synergic combination of healthy eating and exercise.  In the case of type 1 diabetes, this synergic combination helps lower the insulin dose.
  16. A slight modification of treatment make a big difference:  Sometimes changing the insulin treatment dosage timing can make a huge difference. Just by shifting your insulin shot to 15 minutes before your meal can help stop BS spikes after eating. Try achieving your target A1C by modifying your diabetes medication or insulin - dose, type, timing, and or frequency.
  17. Thyroid problems: Have you had your thyroid checked lately? A slightly low level may cause spikes in BS along with a little weight gain.

Achieving your set target is not an easy job. It requires patience, interest to learn, ability to analyze, willpower to accept failures and stick with the plan.

Every individual is different, “Your Mileage May Varies YMMV.” So an easy A1C target for your friend is not that easy for you and vice versa.  If you are having any health concern such as gastroparesis, then it is tough to reach the target A1C range. In such a case, you need to fix a slightly higher goal.