It is critical to keep tabs on your hemoglobin A1c levels if you have diabetes.
Your doctor will take a blood test called Hemoglobin A1c every month or two in order to keep track of your blood sugar levels.
Minor alterations may have a powerful outcome, and preserving an appropriate regulation of blood sugar diminishes the probability of suffering diabetes-related issues.
This piece of writing will investigate Hemoglobin A1c in greater detail and provide six methods for reducing HbA1c levels.
What is the Hemoglobin A1C test?
Blood sugar levels fluctuate in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
It is typical and beneficial for glucose levels in the bloodstream to remain in a consistent range (typically around 100 mg/dl or 5.6 mmol/L).
Yes, glucose levels will go up after meals, particularly if they are sweet, but insulin should return them to a regular level quickly.
If the body does not produce sufficient levels of insulin (type 1 or 2 diabetes) or the body cells are not able to register the insulin that is produced (type 2 diabetes), then the glucose levels in the blood will rise.
Incessant or not stabilized blood sugar levels cause the alteration of proteins in the blood by a process called glycosylation.
A significant blood-borne protein present in red blood cells is called hemoglobin.
The amount of glucose in the bloodstream corresponds to the amount of hemoglobin it binds with to form glycosylated hemoglobin.
When this sugar is bound to hemoglobin, the molecular weight of the molecule is increased as well as its recognizability by antibodies, which permits it to be identified by multiple chemical methods.
Glucose will stay connected to hemoglobin until the life cycle of the red blood cell has ended, which is around 120 days. Determining the amount of hemoglobin A1c present can help to show how well the blood glucose levels have been kept under control in the last 3 months.
How Does the Hemoglobin A1C Test Work?
In the past four decades or so, medical professionals have begun favoring the Hemoglobin A1C test in comparison to a fasting glucose or oral glucose tolerance test, which can be used to diagnose diabetes and gain a clearer view of how the patient is managing their glucose levels over a period of time.
A fasting blood glucose test only provides a short point-in-time measurement of how someone did the night before the exam, which doesn’t bring out the same information that covers a longer period of time would for both the doctor and the person being tested.
Blood is sampled at the office visit. Chemical tests are conducted to determine the amount of hemoglobin that is connected to glucose.
How Is the Hemoglobin A1C Test Administered?
An HbA1c exam is given by your physician, however, based on the sort of study being done, it could take a couple of days for the results to be available.
It is not essential to abstain from food prior to giving a blood sample for Hemoglobin testing, as the metabolic activity associated with glycosylation cannot be reversed (such as not consuming food overnight).
Why the A1C Test Is Done
What Is the Hemoglobin A1C Test Used For?
Your doctor may suggest that you get a HbA1C test if they think your blood sugar is too high based on fasting glucose measurements.
The HbA1c exam is most useful for forecasting the opportunity of a person creating tiny blood vessel problems linked to continuing high sugar degrees.
The microvasculature refers to the minuscule veins found throughout the body. If any of these vessels are harmed, it will impede the supply of oxygen and essential nutrients to the cells. This can lead to cell and organ disease.
Parts of the body which can be harmed by elevated glucose levels are the kidney, eye, central nervous system, brain, and heart.
Certain illnesses can affect cells outside of the vascular system, causing issues such as nephropathy, retinopathy, neuropathy, and coronary illness.
Excess glucose can cause oxidative stress and inflammation, which are both damaging. Scarring and organ destruction may be brought about by inflammation.
Additionally, it has been articulated previously that glucose can attach to proteins other than hemoglobin and compromise the muscle that these proteins are in and the organs where they are found. These bodily components are referred to as highly developed glycation end products (AGEs).
How Often Should You Get An A1C Test?
Your physician should advise you to have an A1C test every 3-6 months, particularly if you have a history of high A1C readings or you currently suffer from type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
This provides the opportunity for the red blood cells to be renewed and a chance for people to lower the levels of them if needed.
Hemoglobin glycation is not believed to directly interfere with the functioning of the blood’s oxygen-transporting ability. However, glycation gives us a clear indication of the long-term levels of glucose present in the bloodstream, much like the proverbial canary in the coal mine.
Factors that can increase the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes are weight, age, and ancestry. It is wise for people aged 40 or more (especially those who are overweight) to be tested for A1C levels due to the fact that fasting glucose tests can neglect gradual decreases in glucose concentration caused by food consuming, which can eventually become a grave risk for blood vessels.
How Can A1C Testing Help Manage Your Diabetes?
There are more than 400 million individuals worldwide who are afflicted with diabetes, which is around 8-9% of the overall population.
One could assume the number of cases of this illness would be larger among those aged over forty, since it is usually seen as a condition associated with growing older.
Don’t feel lonely if you’re having difficulty keeping up with your wellness when you have diabetes.
In contrast, there are numerous individuals living in nations in their early stages of development (including 70 million inhabiting India) that have type 2 diabetes but are unaware of it.
A Blood Sugar test can be used to assist in overseeing treatment and diet plans with the goal of keeping up tight control of your glucose levels twenty-four hours a day once diabetes is suspected.
By keeping your doctor updated and tracking your HbA1c levels at various appointments, you can create a diabetes action plan to adjust your medication, physical activity and eating habits which will keep your HbA1c levels in the normal range.
6 Ways to Lower Your Hemoglobin A1C Levels
1. Eat More Protein, Non-Starchy Vegetables, and Healthy Fats
When consuming carbohydrates in isolation, our body rapidly digests them into glucose, which it then uses as an energy source. This can lead to increased blood sugar levels, which can result in higher A1C measurements.
Don’t give up on carbs completely; there’s an alternate strategy to keep your blood sugar from spiking. Rather than eating carbohydrates on their own, combine them with protein, dietary fiber from non-starchy vegetables, and healthy fats instead. This dulls the reaction to sugar and assists in attaining more uniform, less extreme sugar readings. In the long run, this should result in decreased A1C values.
It is recommended to achieve great blood glucose levels by consuming larger amounts of low-carb vegetables, protein, and healthy fats, as well as a moderate amount of carbohydrates. You can mix and match based on your preferences and lifestyle, but here are some options to help you start out:
- Add some vegetables: There’s so much to pick from. Try broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, celery, and asparagus. Or, consider cucumber, kale, peppers, spinach, tomatoes, cabbage, zucchini, mushrooms, and onions. You can eat these raw, roasted, boiled, steamed, or lightly sautéed.
- Pick a protein: Good options include chicken, beef, tofu, fish/seafood, organ meat, eggs, pork, turkey, and duck.
- Find a healthy fat: Think avocados, olives, unrefined vegetable oils (coconut, olive, avocado), butter, and pesto.
The sequence of consuming our food can also have an effect on our blood sugar levels, as we are particularly responsive to carbohydrates when we are not full. Meal sequencing can be used to help maintain steadier glucose levels. Before eating any carbohydrates, it is important to have a good foundation of healthy fats, protein, and/or fiber. It will help reduce glucose swings.
2. Plan Your Meals
By putting together a meal plan, you can be responsible for yourself and stick to your objectives. Having a fixed timetable for your meals throughout the day can help you to prevent yourself from making poor food choices when you are hungry and lacking time. Certainly, this doesn’t imply that it is essential for you to arrange each meal, bite, and drink you take in right to the second (unless that is what suits you best!). Having a basic understanding of what your dietary preferences are can be beneficial.
Take a practical approach when considering the amount of time you have to spend making meals. For some individuals, short trips spanning two or three days are feasible. For others, planning for the week ahead works best. When you are aware that your day is going to be hectic, concentrate on dishes that you can assemble quickly. Think about doing some preparation work ahead of time, such as slicing the vegetables and soaking the meats in marinade, the evening prior.
Remember to remain adaptable so you can make preparations for surprise incidents and any changes to your timetable. It can be helpful to have some easy-to-access food items in your pantry that are ready to be used, so that busy days are more manageable. Options that might be helpful include buying rotisserie chicken, purchasing bagged salads, hard-boiling eggs, selecting frozen or pre-cut vegetables, and obtaining pre-cooked shrimp. It is possible to include these items in various salads and soups, or mix them with added components to make a tasty and easy meal.
3. Measure Everything—Portion Sizes to Tracking Carbs
Do you know what amount of carbohydrates you are getting from a single apple just by looking at it? A regular sized one includes roughly 25 grams. Few of us are adept at this, thus making it simple to miscalculate how much carbohydrates you’re digesting.
An app that tracks food consumption can be helpful in showing you the right amount of food you should be eating, as well as providing an overview of how many carbohydrates you consume in a single day. This can also assist you in being responsible and maintaining your objectives.
4. Set a Weight Loss Goal
Dropping 5-10% of your total body weight can lead to a significant A1C reduction, so if you are above your ideal weight, you should strive for that level of weight reduction as your primary objective. If you take medications for diabetes, you may discover that you need a smaller dosage as you shed pounds.
In order to be successful in shedding the pounds, it is essential to create a practical aim with a weight reduction that can be maintained. It’s a good idea to aim for a weight loss goal of 1-2 pounds every week, so if your goal is to shed 20 pounds, you can expect it to take two and a half to three months to achieve. A CGM can be utilized to create an individualized program for shedding pounds.
5. Work With a Dietitian
Are you uncertain how to get started when it comes to designing your diet or selecting food items to reduce your A1C? Working with a dietitian can help! There are many conflicting nutrition recommendations. Figuring out which one best meets your specific requirements out of the many options available can prove difficult.
A qualified nutritionist can assist you in navigating through the potential solutions to select the most appropriate plan for yourself. They frequently examine your medical background, inclinations, and way of life to customize it to accommodate you. It’s essential to find a dietitian that you feel comfortable sharing your innermost thoughts and feelings with. Make an effort to identify a dietician with whom you can have faith in to aid you on this excursion.
6. Have an Exercise Plan
The American Diabetes Association suggests that people should obtain 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on a weekly basis. The reason for this is that every form of physical activity increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin and helps regulate blood sugar levels. This can also ultimately help with your A1C levels.
- Exercise plans, much like meal plans, encourage you to stick to your goals. Here are some tips that may help you plan your new exercise regime:
Start slow: If you jump right into an exercise regime, especially without a trainer, there’s a good chance you’ll end up injuring yourself. It can be challenging to wait for tangible results, but going slow can help you build on your progress instead of jeopardizing it.
- Set SMART goals: SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based. Setting goals with this in mind will help with accountability. Try something concrete and attainable, like “I will do yoga 3 days/week for 20 to 30 minutes, all of next month,” instead of “I will do yoga every day next month.”
- Find a workout buddy: Finding it hard to hold yourself accountable? Just ask someone else to do it for you! A workout buddy is a win-win situation for both parties. If you’re the sort of person who works better amidst company, it can make your workouts more enjoyable too.
- Track your progress: Logging your workouts can help you feel a sense of accomplishment that can keep you motivated.
- Diversify your workouts: Bored with the elliptical you once loved? Try yoga! Tired of running on the treadmill every day? Consider running outdoors. Switching things up once in a while can keep things fresh and help you stay motivated.