Monitoring your A1C level helps you detect diabetes early or assess how bad your diabetes is. The A1C test measures the amount of sugar attached to the hemoglobin of your red blood cells. If your blood sugar (glucose, level) is high, then the A1C level is also high. Maintaining an appropriate blood glucose level is essential since high blood sugar causes diabetes and makes existing diabetic symptoms worse.
The A1C test is a blood test performed by your doctor. Then the sample is sent for laboratory testing.
The A1C test is more helpful than a home blood sugar test because a home blood sugar test only tells you your current blood sugar level. An A1C test provides you with a three-month average blood sugar rating. Therefore, having it performed two to four times a year allows your doctor to carefully monitor your A1C level. If the level is 5.7 percent or higher, then you are prediabetic or diabetic. If you have diabetes, then it is important to keep your A1C level below seven percent, unless your doctor sets another goal for you. Below are four ways to lower your A1C level by reducing your blood glucose level.
Manage Your Carbohydrate Intake to Lower Your A1C Level
Carbohydrates are essential nutrients your body needs. Your body converts them to energy. However, it also converts them to sugar in the process. When you eat too many carbohydrates, it may cause your A1C level to rise above a healthy percentage. Carbohydrates are found in a wide range of foods. Among them are:
- Cereals and grains.
- Fruits and vegetables.
- Many processed and packaged snack foods.
Some of those carbohydrates are healthy under normal circumstances. However, if you are diabetic or prediabetic, then eating too many of them in a short time span is potentially hazardous. Therefore, you must learn to monitor your carbohydrate intake if you want to lower your A1C level. If you have favorite carbohydrate sources, then memorize the right portion sizes for them or write the information down.
Monitoring your carbohydrate intake is particularly essential if you already have diabetes and are taking insulin to control it. Since carbohydrate consumption changes your blood glucose levels quickly and drastically, you need to know how many carbohydrates you are eating at all times. That is the only way to ensure you are taking the right amounts of insulin to counteract the effects of your carbohydrate consumption.
Lower Your A1C Level with Fruits and Vegetables
Avoiding fruits and vegetables is detrimental to your health, even though some of them are major carbohydrate sources. Many of those high-sugar fruits and vegetables are important for other reasons. For example, they may contain vital nutrients and minerals. When eating high-sugar fruits and vegetables, monitor your intake carefully and keep your portions low.
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There are many fruits and vegetables with comparatively low-sugar contents. Incorporate them into your diet as well to lower your A1C level and reap other rewards, such as increasing your fiber intake. Fiber is a substance that can help you maintain stable blood sugar levels. Low-sugar fruits and vegetables include:
- Many types of berries, including strawberries.
- Leafy green vegetables, such as kale, spinach and cabbage.
- Zucchini and cucumbers.
- Citrus fruits, including limes and lemons.
When determining what fruits and vegetables to eat to control your A1C, remember portion sizes matter. Appropriate serving sizes may not be the amounts you expect. For instance, half a banana is one serving. Similarly, one cup of raw leafy vegetables is a serving. However, an appropriate serving of cooked vegetables is only 1/2 cup.
Lower Your A1C Level by Choosing Your Beverages Wisely
The beverages you drink have profound and often sudden impacts on your blood glucose levels. For example, sugary beverages like soft drinks are excellent for raising your blood sugar when it is low. However, when you are struggling to lower your A1C level, such beverages may impede your progress. They also offer no nutritional benefits. Such beverages can cause dangerous blood sugar spikes, especially when you do not coordinate consumption of them with your medication administration.
Alcohol consumption can also make lowering your A1C level difficult. Drinking an occasional alcoholic beverage may seem like a good idea because it can lower your blood sugar temporarily. However, that effect only lasts for about a day. Therefore, it has no positive impact on your A1C test results because those results are based on a three-month average. Some alcoholic beverages have high carbohydrate and calorie contents as well. Repeated consumption of them may raise your A1C level.
Water is an excellent alternative. To maintain a good A1C level, you must consistently stay hydrated. Tea and other low-calorie, low-sugar beverages are also useful for controlling your A1C level. However, you must talk to your doctor about appropriate beverages to drink, especially if you have diabetes already. He or she may recommend you drink some sugary beverages at appropriate times to regulate your blood sugar levels.
Develop an Exercise Plan Designed to Lower Your A1C Level
If you have or are at risk for diabetes, then you may also be overweight. There is often a relationship between being overweight and being diabetic. However, even if you are not overweight, maintaining an active lifestyle is necessary to keep your A1C level low. To do so, you must develop an exercise plan.
If you currently lead a sedentary lifestyle, then start exercising slowly. Any activity increase is an improvement. If you try to exercise too much too quickly, then you may injure yourself. Walking short distances is a good way to begin. Slowly increase the distance you walk or incorporate other exercises when you feel comfortable.
When creating an exercise plan to lower your A1C level, coordinate with your doctor. He or she can tell you what types of exercises are safe to do for your fitness level. As time passes, coordinate with him or her to adjust your fitness routine. He or she can also help you make sure the timing of your exercises is appropriate. Exercising at the wrong time of day may cause side effects if you are taking any medications.
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