Being too sugary is definitely unhealthy. If you know what I mean! But here, I am not intending on the emotional habit though. Sweet-toothed people might have got this piece of advice at some point in their life. They might have even heard of how predisposed they are to get caught by diabetes. If you have ever come across such a word of warning in life, I swear you should consider looking into your diet. There are quite a number of causes that can trigger diabetes. While the world is witnessing an alarming rise in the number of diabetes patients, let’s dive into some of the major factors to be considered in Type 1 diabetes management and treatment.
Understanding A1C Levels; the A in ABCs of Diabetes
Most of us are familiar with diabetes tests as either fasting blood sugar or postprandial blood sugar. If you have ever heard of A1c, or HbA1C tests, don’t be stunned. It is the A from the ABCs of diabetes, denoting A1c. The B and C signify blood sugar and cholesterol. Knowing the amount of these elements in your blood is a part of diabetes management. A1c or glycosylated hemoglobin numbers play a vital role in diagnosing and managing diabetes and prediabetes.
A1c is the sugar content attached to the red blood cells. HbA1c or A1c test checks the average blood sugar level like other diabetes tests, but of the past three months. The A1C test is said to be more accurate for the overall measurement of blood sugar control, unlike other tests that measure blood sugar at a particular time. Once you undergo an A1c test, your healthcare provider uses the number to determine the best diabetes treatment plan accordingly.
You cannot decide on your A1c goals out of nowhere. Your healthcare provider may check for factors like overall health, age, and the risk of hypoglycemia to decide on the numbers. Well, there are many recommendations available over the web for someone who will search on the ideal A1c level. However, each individual is unique, and the standard A1c level might be decided on the above-stated external factors. The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists recommends maintaining a 6.5% or lower A1c levels, while less than 7% is the recommended level by the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
Why reduce A1C Levels
You might be aware that Diabetes can cause serious health complications, if not managed well. You cannot exclude the A1c level from the diabetes management plan as it is directly linked to tackling the complications. Some of the authoritative studies put forward that a reduced A1c level can lower diabetic complications as well. When you set up the goal of lowering your A1c levels, you are also reducing the risks of eye disease, kidney disease, nerve damage, and heart attack or stroke caused by diabetes. Aren’t you amazed to hear that? If you could lower A1c levels, you are at a lesser risk of diabetic complications. What if you can do it just by modifying some of your day-to-day rituals? Here’s an outline you can rely on to maintain healthy A1c levels.
Alter your eating habits; be choosy, but in a healthy way:
We knew that what we eat has a direct effect on the blood sugar levels, and in the same way, it affects the A1c number too. To bring changes in your eating habits, you must start by altering the portions. Tame your unhealthy food cravings, and let the body consume only what it needs. You can control portion sizes as eating more than your body’s requirement may result in an increased blood sugar level.
While making diet plans, the one word that you will hear most often is carbs, which unfortunately is the dominant element in most of your favorite dishes. For the same reason, a healthy diet might seem lifeless and impossible for many. Not much diet plan favors carbs intake more than a limit. The more you add starchy carbs in your diet, the higher your A1c level will be. What you can do is to replace the unhealthy carbs with the healthy ones that contain a lot of fiber and nutrients. Why not think about carrots, tomatoes, and zucchini instead of buns and pizzas. Load your plates with low-starchy veggies, chicken or tofu for some lean protein, and some whole grain to make it complete. Words like the Mediterranean, low carb, and vegetarian should have been familiar and seem monotonous for you. However, these eating patterns are much beneficial if your goal is to lower A1c levels count.
Diet plan is not just about knowing what to eat and whatnot. You should also understand when and how. The best way in controlling your A1c levels is to confine your meal to three in a day. You can also go for some healthy snacking. Try to maintain the time you have meals every day. Never skip or delay your meals, which can affect your blood sugar stability.
Well, don’t try to be a dietitian for yourself with some impossible diet goals. Most people fail at this point, ending it up in some fad diet complications. Let your plan include realistic goals, eating a healthy diet, losing weight, exercising, and coping with stress.
Choose to Stay Active:
An idle body could also be a devil’s workshop. A physically active body is less prone to not just diabetes, but to innumerable health risks. Whether your goal is to reduce the A1c levels or to control diabetes, it’s high time you pay attention to physical activity. You cannot expect magical results by just running on the treadmills. Exercise doesn’t confine you to breaking a sweat at thegym! If you are confused about how to start, get a pair of sneakers and take a walk. To start moving is the best thing as a first step. If you would like to add some interesting activities to yourroutines, choose swimming, cycling, or enjoy some Zumba. If possible, include some cardio andstrengthening exercises also in the plan. It’s not a big deal to devote 20-30 minutes a day for some physical activity. You do not need to overdo it, but remember to set a goal. Mark my words, you can notice quite a surprising change in sugar levels if you make exercise a part of your life.
What if Lifestyle Modification Doesn’t Help You?
If all your efforts went in the water with no variation in the A1c numbers, it’s time to think of a plan B. Sometimes, your diet and workout plans alone might not be enough to curb the spiking A1c. Don’t get disappointed, for it isn’t the dead end. Let’s look at what is next!
You Might Need Medication:
Though the results can vary from person to person, diabetes medicines are said to bring down A1c numbers up to 3.5%. As said earlier, medication effects might also hinge on how high the A1c level is. If Plan A fails, the doctor might suggest medication as the next step. In some cases, people get to undergo a medication plus lifestyle changes plan too. Medications might include the following:
- Insulin is mandatory in the case of people with Type1 diabetes. The effect of insulin is also high in reducing A1c levels.
- Diabetes pills are most common among people with Type 2 diabetes.
- Non-insulin injectables are also used in some cases to lower glucose levels.
Missing your medication can increase the blood sugar level and increase the A1C level as well. To get your A1C and blood sugar level under control, it is important to follow the instructions of your doctor if it binds medication too.
Steps to be Taken to Lower A1C Levels
Other than diet, physical activities, and medications, there are a few other things to be considered. Unlike sugar levels, you cannot check your A1c as and when you think. However, keeping an eye on the sugar levels can help the doctor alter your treatment plan whenever required. How often you should monitor the glucose level might vary from person to person. Not to mention, frequent doctor visits are a part of a diabetic’s life. Never missing your appointments is also a great step in reducing A1c.
You might get a feeling of doing a full-time job when you have to manage diabetes. It can make your life stressful. Don’t let the stress overpower your efforts, as it can be harmful than diabetes.Stress can even affect your blood sugar levels too. That is where managing stress becomes important. You can practice meditation or yoga to reduce stress while coping with diabetes.
How Much Do You Need to Wait to See the Results?
Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day! You can see prompt results in the blood sugar levels as and when you put some effort to make so. However, A1c takes time to reflect the changes. A1c itself is the average blood sugar measure for the past three months. People with a higher A1c of10% or above are fortunate enough to see faster results within two-three months. While those with 7.5% might need to wait for a bit longer to witness a drop. Simply put, the higher your A1c, the faster it drops. However, it is not good to lower A1c levels quickly. While approaching any method to lower your A1c levels, one should do it with utmost caution. Trying to lower the A1c levels quickly is as risky as following the crash diets. Experts suggest that trying to lower A1c levels can result in total body swelling and weight gain. It may also trigger the risk of bleeding in the retina. To prevent serious complications, it is important to take one step at a time.
Do You Need an A1 Test?
If you are above 45-years old, consider getting a baseline A1c test. Who else is on the list?
- Those who are under 45, are overweight or have one or a combination of diabetes risk factors.
- Those above the age of 45, with gestational diabetes, or diabetic risk factors are recommended to repeat the A1C test every 3-years.
- Those who already have diabetes are recommended to have an A1C test twist a year
Make it more often if you have other medical conditions or if you had to change any medicines in the meanwhile.
How the Test would go
The test is very simple and can be done in a lab or at the doc’s office. You don’t need much preparation to undergo it, as the procedure is all about taking a tiny blood sample from the finger. A1c test kits that provide instant results are also handy, but you need to get guided by the doctor to pick the right one.
What You can Expect in the Results:
If you receive a number below 5.7%, you are fortunate to have a normal A1c. If it goes up to 6.4%, you might be under the risk of prediabetes. If the number spikes above 6.5%, you are alarmed! People with diabetes should focus on the number of 7% or less. However, younger people with diabetes should set the goal to a lesser number as they would need to spend more years with diabetes.
A1c has been considered as the best tool for diabetes management. It was the most accurate tool for observing long-term blood sugar trends until the introduction of Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM). However, there are other good alternatives as well. Fructosamine is an alternative that helps in measuring A1c more accurately too. The major advantage of choosing fructosamine is that it measures average glucose levels in two-three weeks, rather than taking long 12 weeks like A1c. At the end of the day, the decision is up to your doctor to choose the best for you.