How to Lower Your A1C Level
If you’re a diabetic, you’re likely familiar with the importance of A1C levels. Your A1C levels can determine how you and your doctor will treat your diabetes and your overall health.
To learn more about A1C levels and how to lower these important levels, here’s everything you need to know.
What Are A1C Levels?
A1C tests are blood tests that check your glucose level. This test determines if someone has type 1 or 2 diabetes, hyperglycemia, or prediabetes.
It’s important to continually get your A1C levels tested so any kind of diabetes can be caught and treated early on. If it’s addressed and treated quickly, you may have a chance of reversing the disease.
A patient’s diagnosis depends on the level of blood glucose found in the blood. You’re considered diabetes-free if the test shows levels below 5.7%. If you have blood glucose levels between 5.7 to 6.4%, it’s likely you have prediabetes. If the test comes back with levels greater than 6.5%, this indicates diabetes. In any case, a second test will be taken to confirm the diagnosis.
The Impact High A1C Levels Have
If your A1C test has shown high levels of glucose in the blood, you are at risk for developing more serious complications. Some of these complications include heart attacks, strokes, kidney problems and circulation problems. If the issue goes untreated, it is also possible that you will start to suffer from damage to the eyes, cardiovascular disease, nerve damage, infections to the skin and gums, as well as problems with the joints.
You should get your blood glucose checked if you display signs of: extreme thirst, increased appetite, fatigue, weight loss and urination, blurry vision and/or fruity-smelling breath. You should also get tested if you display symptoms such as increased thirst and appetite, fatigue and frequent urination, weight loss, or sores that don’t heal as they should.
Symptoms of high A1C sometimes go unnoticed because they are also common to other sicknesses. Even if you are not sure that anything is wrong, it is always a good idea to check with a medical professional. This is especially the case if you are over the age of 45 and are overweight, or have high blood pressure, cholesterol, or a family history of diabetes.
Treatments for High A1C levels
The following is a list of medications for diabetes that have been shown to be effective treatments for high A1C levels and lower blood sugar levels in patients:
- Sulfonylureas: It increases the amount of insulin made by the pancreases.
- Biguanides: Works by decreasing the amount of sugar that the liver produces. It also allows muscle cells to absorb more sugar and decreases the need for so much insulin in the body.
- Meglitinides: Works by increasing how much sugar the pancreases produces. Less likely to cause weight gain or low blood sugar.
- Thiazolidinediones: This medication allows muscle and fat to respond better to insulin. It also makes the liver reduce its glucose production.
- DPP-4 inhibitors: This medicine works by blocking a particular enzyme (DPP-4) from destroying a hormone called incretin, which regulates insulin.
- SGLT2 Inhibitors: These decrease the amount of glucose in your blood by absorbing more into the kidneys.
- Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors: Help keep the body’s blood sugar levels stable by slowing the digestion of complex carbs.
- Bile Acid Sequestrants: This medicine works by promoting bile formation and controlling the amount of glucose in the blood level.
Foods That Affect Your A1C Levels
Monitoring your diet is key if you have high A1C levels. Eating the proper balance of foods may stop prediabetes from turning into type 2. Foods that lower A1C levels have a low glycemic index (GI). These foods are good to eat, because they’re unlikely to increase blood sugar levels. The GI is a number that correlates to a particular type of carbohydrates, depending on how much they affect blood sugar levels. A low GI is 55 or less, and they take longer to be absorbed and digested. These are good, because they do not cause blood sugar and insulin levels to spike. Foods with a GI of 70 or higher are very bad for increasing blood sugar levels.
Carbohydrates with a low GI include:
- Oats (steel cut)
- Wheat (Stone-ground)
- Vegetables low in starch (asparagus, beets, Brussels sprouts, eggplant, onions, peppers, etc.)
Foods that are bad for diabetics include carbohydrates which quickly turn into energy for the body. This includes:
- White bread
- Limit fruits high in sugar, like dates and pineapple
Meat is another type of food that can raise glucose levels in the blood. Foods high in protein are the worst for this. For example:
- Fish and shellfish
- Soy products
Although it’s a good idea to take initiative and eat healthier, it is always recommended that you speak with your doctor about any major changes that you decide to make to your lifestyle.
Overall, everyone can benefit from a healthier lifestyle, whether or not they have high levels of blood sugar. Just by doing simple life changes such as eating healthier and exercising more, you can reduce your risk for disease. This will also make you more mobile and happy. Cutting out bad influences such as fast food from your life is a good idea. By removing the temptation, you’ll be less inclined to think about it, and should automatically start moving toward better, healthy choices.