Blood sugar is measured using Hemoglobin A1c. This measurement gives us the average of our blood sugar over a 2 to 3 months period. An extremely high figure could indicate the possibility of complications with our:
- Kidney (nephropathy)
- Nerve (neuropathy)
- Eye (retinopathy)
When we lower our blood glucose level, we are providing better protection for our eyes, kidneys, and nerves. Prior to looking at what is a normal a1c, let us spend some time understanding what is a1c?
What is A1C?
The A1c is used to estimate a persons’ blood glucose for a 2 to 3 months period. It seeks to ascertain how controlled our blood glucose is over time. We can use this number to guide us as we manage diabetes.
A1c is measured in a laboratory, where they take and examine a sample of our blood. Yes, there are kits to test our blood sugar at home, but the more accurate test is the one administered in the laboratory.
Our red blood cell has a protein called Hemoglobin. When sugar attaches to this protein in our red blood cell, it is called glycated hemoglobin. The A1c measures the quantity of glycated hemoglobin. The figure we are given is a percentage of the total hemoglobin in our blood.
The higher our A1c, the more red blood cells are covered with sugar. It is said that a red blood cell remains coated in sugar until it is recycled. This explanation is outside of this article, but allow me to say a few things.
Our red blood cells have a life span and they can be damaged as well. The latest view is that the liver is responsible for the elimination of the red blood cells and it also recycles the iron (Massachusetts General Hospital, 2016).
A1c Test – Why?
Remember that a highly spiked A1c can indicate later issues with our eyes, kidney, and nerves. This means that when we know our A1c, then we can take the necessary precautions to prevent, retinopathy, nephropathy, and, or, neuropathy.
People with high blood sugar levels (above normal A1c), sometimes suffer from complications of heart disease. There are arguments which state that this is a major complication of diabetes.
A simpler way to look at the “why?” is that when we fail to know our A1c, then we stand the risk of developing diabetes and the ugly complications. Some of those complications are:
- Eye damage
- Kidney damage
- Nerve damage
- Cardiovascular issues
- Skin and feet issues
- Hair impairment
- Alzheimer’s Disease
As seen in the chart, an a1c below 5.7% is accepted as the norm. This indicates that once the person follows a healthy lifestyle of eating whole foods and being active, then they have a slim probability of becoming diabetic.
The pre-diabetic range is between 5.7% to 6.9%. The truth be told, is that the literature may vary a bit on this range, but it still acts as a good guide, it also tells us that nothing is engraved in stones.
In my lifetime, I witnessed suggestions of the normal blood pressure range being 130/80 and now we are told to aim for 120/70. I aim for this figure, but if it is slightly higher on any given day, I just say “oh well…” and continue with my day.
Don’t get me wrong, I do pay attention to my numbers and I research a lot, and also experiment with different foods. I am also good at testing to see the effect of what I am eating. But, there are just some days when it is not as good as I would expect.
Please remember that other factors are sometimes at work. Take a look at this article about stress and the effect on our blood sugar. I lost my son over a year ago, my only child, and guess what? It has been a struggle with my numbers, but things are improving.
This is a good time for us to take a look at some of the things we can do to lower our a1c. Please continue to read below.
5 Ways to Lower A1c
The death of DaMarco (my son and only child) threw me at a different place. That hole in my heart cannot be fixed, but, I made a decision that he would want me to be happy and healthy.
I cry, I sigh and I even question God at times, but there are a few other things that I do to get my numbers close to the normal range.
They are simple:
- I eat whole foods and let processed foods stay in the supermarket. Yes, I eat pumpkin, cho cho, carrots, broccoli, pak choy, cauliflower, green banana, yam, sweet potato, a little irish potato, to name a few.
- I also eat whatever meat I see on the supermarket shelf whenever I go. I am not big on meat. So I just eat about 3 ozs. A small tray of animal protein goes a long way for me. I also eat eggs and cheese. I love them both, but, again, I use moderation as my guide.
- Plant protein is also another favorite of mine. I love to buy different types of beans. I get creative in including these in my diet. They do wonders. It is truly amazing how they prevent that huge spike in our blood sugar! Hey, this article is going to be worth your while. Read about beans here. Just click the blue writing and read.
- I also took a more serious look at my activity level. Okay, so I fell at work and that makes it painful at times to exercise, but I do whatever I am able to do. Yep, I strap that foot and mount my cycle. If I can do just 2 minutes, I say “Lord I thank you.” I go to the garden and do a bit of work for exercise. I rake the yard and keep the floor in the house clean. Just anything to move. I remember that at one point the only exercise I could manage was to stay in bed and gently move my legs. At times I just did exercises for my arms. You get the point. Now I am able to do Leslie Sansone again. Not much, but God be praised. Read this Leslie Sansone Review.
Enough about me. Let us now look at those 5 things we can do to lower our a1c.
5 ways to lower a1c are:
- Know your numbers. Information is powerful. When we know what the numbers are and what they mean, then we have the information to take the necessary corrective measures. For me, knowing my blood sugar reading every morning and my a1c as often as is required, drive/s my action/s. I think it is important to use the glucometer along with the a1c test to monitor our blood sugar. My daily numbers will determine my average 3 months a1c and so I use the daily numbers to see how food affects my blood sugar and make the necessary adjustments.
- Make healthy food choices
- Look at our carbohydrate choices. I am now paying attention to carbohydrates. The processed, refined stuff is not good for us. I now change how I look at drinks, juices from the supermarket, chips, bread, biscuits, and other snacks. They are not on my list of foods. This means I leave them on the shelves in the supermarket. I do buy wholewheat bread and crackers, but, not like before. I now purchase plantains, breadfruit, broccoli, pumpkin, cho cho, carrots, etc. Most of my meals are whole foods. I say most because I do have a cheat day once in a “blue moon.”
- Take a look at the fruits you are eating. I generally eat all fruits. I know this is a shocker because our doctors do have an issue with diabetics eating certain fruits. I do fairly well on fruits once I stay away from processed foods. I exercise moderation in everything I eat. Yes, this is the “new me,” and I am loving the results. Covid-19 has resulted in my not having some amount of “cheat foods” in my house and the results are just great. For me, there is no backsliding. Most of the time I spend in the supermarket is now in the produce and meat aisle. I also spend some time in the household sections for cleaning supplies.
- Eat protein, both animal, and plant protein. I was having an issue eating animal protein, so I eased off for a while. I realized that my portions were just too large and that I do better when I eat plant protein some days. Please remember that beans and peas are also loaded with carbs. They however do not result in an almost immediate, high spike. Sometimes I use 1 cooking spoon (large) of beans to replace my rice. I will eat this with 2oz. of animal protein and a cup, or two of cooked vegetables. The point here is that I am also cautious with my protein intake. I do believe, and I have said it so many times that moderation is the key.
- Be more active. Here are a few gains from exercise – more energy, lower blood sugar, more controlled blood pressure, better sleep, improved heart function, less stress, and depression, to name but a few.
You will agree with me that when you read the above, you can now buy into the school of thought that lowering A1C levels naturally is not a difficult task. Yes, it is something diabetics must pay attention to if we desire a full life free of horrible complications.