How to lower A1C levels

How to Lower A1c Levels

Last updated on August 17th, 2016

The hemoglobin A1C level is a blood test that measures how “sugar coated” the hemoglobin is in your body.  When the blood sugar is high, the glucose attaches to hemoglobin, becoming “glycated hemoglobin”.  Elevated hemoglobin A1c levels can indicate prediabetes or diabetes.

In testing the hemoglobin A1c level, the doctors are looking for this:

  • Levels less than 5.7 percent are considered to be normal.
  • Levels of between 5.7 percent and 6.4 percent are considered to indicate prediabetes.
  • Levels of 6.5 percent or higher indicate that a person has diabetes.

The hemoglobin A1c level can be used to diagnose diabetes.  It is most often used, however, to monitor the effect of treatment on type 1 and type 2 diabetics.  According to the American Diabetes Association, the hemoglobin A1c level in diabetics should be less than 7 percent to be considered in good control of diabetes.
lower a1c levels

How do you lower Hemoglobin A1c levels?

If you are diabetic or prediabetic, there are things you can do in order to lower the hemoglobin A1c level so that you can have a normal level even with the diagnosis of type 1 or type 2 diabetes. 

Reduce intake of simple sugars

Simple sugars include glucose, fructose, galactose, and sucrose. These are small sugars that easily enter the bloodstream and cause elevations in blood sugar levels.  Simple sugars can be found in table sugar, cakes, pies, ice cream, and cookies.   There are a lot of simple sugars in processed foods you purchase at the store.  These sugars have a high glycemic index or GI.  The higher the glycemic index, the greater is the rate of absorption of the sugar into the bloodstream.  You can lower your hemoglobin A1c level by eating foods that are low in glycemic index and instead eat protein-containing foods or foods that contain complex carbohydrates, such as fruits and vegetables.

Exercising on a regular basis.

Exercise can reduce hemoglobin A1c levels even if you don’t eat properly.  According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetics should exercise 150 minutes per week or more.  This, of course, doesn’t have to be done all at once and can even be broken down into 15 exercise sessions of 10 minutes each. Most people, however, exercise about 30 minutes per day on most days of the week to reach their exercise goal.

Exercising on a regular basis
In order to count for adequate exercise, you need to exercise to a moderate or intense degree and most of the exercise should be aerobic in nature.  Aerobic exercise is an exercise that brings up the heart rate and respiratory rate.  Common aerobic exercises include jogging, running, swimming, cycling, and team sports.  The more active you are, the higher your heart rate will be and the better able you will be to avoid the heart disease associated with elevated blood sugar levels and elevated hemoglobin A1c levels.

You can also engage in anaerobic exercise on some of the days of the week.  A typical anaerobic exercise involves lifting weights or using weight machines you find at health clubs or gyms.  They increase the total amount of muscle in your system and can increase your metabolic rate.  This can lower your hemoglobin A1c levels.

Following a healthy diet.

Besides eating foods that are low in sugar (as mentioned above), you can follow a healthy diet to decrease your hemoglobin A1c levels. A healthy diet is one in which there are plenty of fruits and vegetables, especially in their raw and unprocessed forms.  Fruits and vegetables are high in nutrients and low in simple sugars.  They contain complex carbohydrates, which don’t increase the blood sugar levels as rapidly as simple sugars.

The other aspects of a healthy diet involve eating high protein foods such as lean meats, dairy products, and plant sources of protein (like beans).  You should also add grains to the diet.  Preferably the grains should be whole wheat or other whole grain food items that have a low glycemic index.  Whole grain breads and whole grain cereals can be good choices for you to eat if you want to lower your hemoglobin A1c level.

You also need to eat less fat.  Fat will cause you to gain weight and will be stored in fat cells. Fat is higher in calories per gram than protein and carbohydrates so you don’t have to eat as much to have more calories in the food.

Lose weight

Most people with type 2 diabetes and high hemoglobin A1c levels are overweight. Small reductions in weight of between 5 and 10 percent of your total body weight can greatly affect your hemoglobin A1c levels and can decrease your risk of diabetic complications.  The best way to lose weight is to eat a diet that is low in calories. The recommended amount of calories you should take in is about 1500 calories per day.   Once you reach your goal weight, you can increase your caloric intake to about 2000 calories per day.

Lose weightIn order to decide whether or not you need to lose weight, you need to check your body mass index.  You can use a body mass index (BMI) calculator on the Internet or can use this formula to guess your basal metabolic rate:  BMI = Your weight in pounds divided by your height in inches, multiplied by 703.

A normal BMI is between 18.5 and 25.  If the BMI is between 25.1 and 29.9, it means you are overweight.  A BMI above 30 is considered to be obese and a BMI of greater than 40 means you are grossly overweight.  If you have a BMI that is at or above 25, you should try to lose a few pounds to see what your hemoglobin A1c does.  It will likely decrease as you lose weight so that you may no longer have to take medications for diabetes.

Medications

There are medications you can take for diabetes that will decrease your hemoglobin A1c level. A common choice for type 1 diabetics is insulin, while a common choice for type 2 diabetics is Glucophage (metformin). Medications are reserved for people who are diabetic or at least prediabetic.

References:

Hemoglobin A1c. https://labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/a1c/tab/test/.

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