Medically Reviewed By: Tom Iarocci, MD
If you have diabetes and are good about testing your blood sugar levels at home, you are well on your way to gaining control over the disease. However, as valuable as home testing is, it doesn’t always give you a complete picture of what your levels have been in between tests. This is why you also need to have the A1C blood test done, typically from twice a year to as many as four times per year.
The Top 5 Ways To Lower Your A1C Blood Sugar Levels:
The A1C score is a very important figure that tells you how effectively you and your doctor are managing your diabetes. Setting an A1C goal is important because having A1C levels within a certain range reduce your risk of having complications from diabetes, such as kidney disease, heart disease and stroke.
Managing your diabetes can be challenging, and, just like any other new job, it often takes some time before you become really good at it. The key is to make changes in your lifestyle in a few critical areas, on a daily basis, and this is a concept that is reflected in these 5 ways to lower your A1C.
1.) Move More
You should exercise for at least 30 minutes per day, five days per week. This doesn't have to be strenuous, gym-organized insanity workout programs. It is simply about physical activity and moving the body. Try to sit less. Get up and take breaks if you have a desk job. After work, playing sports with a friend, taking a dog out for a walk, riding a stationary bike at home, or even dancing to some tunes are all great ways to improve your overall health. For a variety of reasons, when you are active on a regular basis, it can help you lower your A1C to that golden target range.
2.) Eat The Right Things In The Right Amounts
Non-starchy vegetables like broccoli are fine to eat in abundance. You can even pile up half your plate with them. Complex carbohydrates, fruits, fats, lean proteins, and starches are all important parts of your diabetic meal plan, but the serving sizes should be monitored. Swap your dinner plate for a salad plate, and you will automatically have less to eat, which is beneficial. Do also avoid fruit juices and sugary sodas.
3.) Have A Schedule
You should never skip meals, nor should you have long periods of time between two meals. This will cause drops and spikes in your blood sugar levels. Talk to your physician or dietitian so that you have a solid concept of what to eat and when. This advice is tailored to you as an individual, so take what works and run with it toward success.
4.) Stick To The Plan
The “sticking with it” part can be a struggle for everyone. Your plan was developed specifically for you, as an individual. If you do want to make changes, you need to ask the questions and get the answers that will help move you forward, rather than being stuck in the same old place. People’s life circumstances have a tendency to change, and these changes can impact your ability to keep up with your your program. Let’s say you switched jobs, for instance, and now you travel all the time and your meals involve dining out more often than not. Speak to your physician or dietician about this. You may be surprised at how much help they have to offer.
5.) Check Your Sugars and Make Adjustments
Your physician will monitor your A1C levels, but you also need be doing your own blood testing with the frequency recommended by your doctor. Keep a diary of what your levels are and what you were doing at those times. This will help to reveal how your sugars are affected by daily activities and how your diet and individual food choices are factoring in.
Putting these 5 tips into practice should have you well on your way to better A1C blood sugar levels. You and your doctor are a team, and when both of you are focused on the end-game, success will be your reality.