Your hemoglobin A1c levels are one of the most important things to know and to monitor as a diabetic. Hemoglobin A1c is a blood test that your doctor runs every month or so to determine what is happening with your blood sugar levels. Even small changes can have an effect and maintaining good control over blood glucose levels lowers the chances of experiencing diabetes complications.
The ADA suggest that most people with diabetes should maintain A1C levels below 7 percent. A diagnosis of diabetes occurs with an A1C reading of 6.5 percent or higher on two different occasions.
This article take a closer look at Hemoglobin A1c and outline 6 ways in which you can successfully lower your HbA1c levels.
This Lab Test Varies Depending On the Country
Hemoglobin A1c may be abbreviated HbA1c or just A1c. It’s measured in mg/dL in the U.S. and in mmol/L in countries outside the U.S. and may be seen as a percentage on blood tests as well.
What’s the Optimal A1c Level?
The medical goal is to keep your average blood sugar levels at 97 mg/dL or 5.4 mmol/L. The levels may be broken down into three categories with normal sometimes showing up at 5.7%, pre-diabetes at 5.7-6.4% and diabetes at 6.5% or higher.
However, if you consider data from the natural healing world, your goal is actually to keep your average blood sugar levels between 83 and 87 mg/dL, which would be one level even lower than what your doctor tells you. Instead of 5.0%, strive for 4.0%. Instead of 31 mmol/mol, strive for 20 mmol/mol.
The reason why natural healing experts lower the level further is because the medical profession will begin putting people on medications at 100 mg/dL and there’s little room to play at 97 mg/dL Another reason is that optimal blood sugar levels are correlated with health on all levels, whereas 97 mg/dL is a little questionable.
How Do You Convert A1c to Blood Sugar Levels?
If your doctor did not run a fasting blood sugar level or regular blood sugar level along with the A1c, you can convert the A1c to the blood sugar level that it reflects. Below is a chart to help you – print it out and post it on your refrigerator or in your office:
You’ll notice that each one of these percentage points is 28-29 mg away from the next. Thus if you know that an A1c level of 5.0 corresponds to a level of 97 mg/dL, then you can roughly calculate any of your average blood sugar levels.
For example, if your doctor tells you that your A1c level is 10.0%, the 10% is 5 percentage points above 5% which you know corresponds to 97 mg/dL. You can then multiply 5 by 28 to get 140 and 5 by 29 to get 145, a range of 140-145 mg/dL above 97 mg/dL. Thus your average blood sugar for the past three months is 237-242 mg/dL.
If your doctor is measuring A1c in mmol/mol, here’s the appropriate chart for the conversions:
These blood sugar values range from 1.6 mmol/L per every 11 mmol/mol level on the chart above the second level of 42. The chart starts with 31 mmol/mol for the A1c level with an average blood sugar level starting at 5.4 mmol/L.
The second level starts at 7.0 and then rises 11 mmol/mol for every higher level. Thus, if your Alc level is 75, which is three levels higher than level 42 mmol/mol, you would multiply 1.6 by 3 to get 4.8 mmol/L higher for the average blood sugar level, or 7.0 + 4.8 = 11.8 mmol/L.
How Do You Lower A1c Levels?
1) Go Keto
Studies show that there are many proven benefits of the ketogenic diet when it comes to weight loss, improvement in health and performance. A ketogenic diet can help the most because it is low in carbohydrates. In some instances, diabetics struggle to metabolize carbohydrates.
Thus, lowering them to 60 grams per day or even 40 grams a day will begin to bring blood sugar levels into normal. However, you should always work with your doctor on this if you have diabetes.
If your doctor believes that carbohydrates are not the problem, do seek a second opinion from someone who is skillful at working with diabetics on ketogenic diets.
2) Move More
Exercise offers a wealth of benefits for people with diabetes, such as increasing insulin sensitivity, improving cardiovascular fitness, and helping to lose and sustain weight loss.
Several studies have reviewed the link between physical activity and HbAc1 levels. One study published in BMJ Journal found that a long-term exercise training program had a significant effect, on HbA1c and BMI and VO2 (the optimum rate at which the heart, lungs, and muscles can effectively use oxygen during exercise).
Overall the researchers concluded that regular exercise was found to be beneficial in improving glycemic control, cardiovascular fitness and type 2 diabetes management.
Althоugh regular еxеrсiѕе iѕ an effective way to lower your HbAc1 levels, it is important to note that in some cases, certain exercises can result in a blood sugar fluctuating. Remember to take precautions, such as monitoring your blood sugar levels and consult your Doctor before starting any intense exercise regimes.
3) Portion Control
Portion control plays an important role in diabetes, especially when it comes to reducing and maintaining weight. A number of studies have established a link between weight loss and a reduced risk of developing diabetes.
One study of more than 1,000 people with prediabetes found that for every kilogram (2.2 lbs) of weight participants lost, their risk of diabetes reduced by 16%, up to a maximum reduction of 96%.
Managing your portion sizes and taking active steps to lower weight can also benefit HbA1c levels. In a study published in the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, researchers combined the results of several studies to find out whether there’s an overall pattern to how much HbA1c levels can be reduced by losing weight.
Results showed that there was in fact a
relationship between weight loss and reduced HbA1c. On average participants saw their HbA1c drop by 0.1% for each kilogram (about 2.2 pounds) of body weight lost.
4) Monitor Blood Sugar
Monitoring blood sugar is essential for diabetes management. Diabetes is a very individualized disease, and certain foods, activities and even sleep patterns can have an impact on a persons blood sugar levels.
The factors that raise blood sugar can vary for different people, which is why having a good understanding of your blood sugar levels is important.
Enforcing a management plan can help to keep you on track when it comes to maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.
Your plan can focus on goals such as weight loss, exercising, handling stress and eating a healthily.
5) Add Cinnamon
Herbs and spices have been used for hundreds of years to treat a variety of illnesses. Taking blood sugar lowering herbs, especially cinnamon, can also help to effective lower HbAc1.
In one study, people diagnosed with metabolic syndrome were administered cinnamon for 16 weeks. Participants were encouraged to follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Half the participants were received 6 grams of cinnamon and the rest were given 6 grams of a placebo.
The results found that there was reduction in HbAc1 and fasting blood sugar. There was also a greater reduction in waist circumference and BMI compared to placebo. This may explain the greater reduction in blood sugar.
6) Natural Supplements
Natural supplements containing herbs, minerals and vitamins can also help to control and lower blood sugar levels.
Ben’s Glyco-Optimizer formula, is a high quality, all-natural supplement which contains a number of powerful ingredients including
fenugreek, quercetin, cinnamon, chromium and berberine, all of which play an important role in blood sugar control.
Glyco-Optimizer is made with powerful herbs, minerals and vitamins- each of which have been proven in double blind scientific studies to help reverse type 2 diabetes as well as restore normal blood sugar levels.
Remember that we are living in the times where blood sugar control is expected and doesn’t have to be random anymore. You do have control over your health.
Dr. Donna Schwontkowski received a Doctorate in Chiropractic Medicine (D.C.), from the National College of Chiropractic, Lombard, IL, in Dec. 1990. In addition to running a medical practice, Dr Donna has had a long and distinguished career as a medical teacher, both running courses at various universities and also as a published author of several books and as a television presenter on health issues.