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How To Lower Your A1c Level: 10 Tips to Consider

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An A1c blood test or HbA1c test measures blood sugar levels, which aid in diagnosing diabetes and prediabetes. Getting a higher normal A1c level may indicate the development of these metabolic conditions depending on the specific range.

As the A1c test is performed repeatedly after two to three months, you can take the necessary steps on how to lower A1c levels, reducing your blood glucose. These include tweaking your diet, exercising regularly, taking the prescribed medications, having enough sleep, managing stress, and more. Read more about these practices below.  

Did You Know? You can order the A1c Blood Test online at Personalabs, complete with a doctor’s order and appointment booking. By creating your account, you can purchase the test, choose the partner lab near you, get it done, and receive your results confidentially online.

10 Proven Tips for Lowering A1c Levels Quickly

While high A1c may cause an alarm, especially for those still within the prediabetic range, you can take the following practical steps on how to lower your A1c levels. Doing so allows you to manage your blood sugar levels effectively. 

  1. Create A Diet Plan

Since food intake remains a core trigger for high serum glucose levels, it only makes sense to regulate your diet when lowering your A1c levels. 

Specifically, you need to reduce your consumption of carbohydrates, which are essentially sugar molecules. This means eating less starchy foods like bread, pasta, white rice, and sugary products, including beverages with artificial sweeteners, soda, pastries, ice cream, etc., or eliminating them altogether from your meal plan. 

However, having a low-carb diet may not be enough, albeit remaining an effective first step to lowering blood glucose levels. 

A 2020 study by the University of Glasgow showed that regulating carbohydrate intake for lowering A1c could be diminished by consuming foods high in fats. For this reason, those who have high A1c levels should also control the fatty foods they eat, especially trans and saturated fats. 

Key Actions:

  1. Stay hydrated
  2. Switch to a high-fiber diet
  3. Plan your food size portions
  4. Read food labels all the time
  5. Prepare your own meals instead of eating out
  6. Consider the nutritional recommendations for lowering A1c
  7. Create a grocery list composed of food items that help lower A1c  
  1. Avoid Skipping Breakfast

With diet alteration being a critical step in how to lower A1c levels, you might get tempted to eliminate certain meals of the day. It’s either this or getting used to skipping meals, especially breakfast.

Unfortunately, nothing good comes from missing breakfast – not even in the subject of reducing your A1c. Instead of lowering your blood sugar levels, skipping breakfast actually has the opposite effect.

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition revealed that the risk for diabetes increases by 6% when you skip breakfast at least once a week.   

  1. Exercise Regularly

Keeping an active lifestyle reduces HbA1c, as shown in a study published in BMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care Journal. In this 8-year-long research, it was found that regular and long-term exercise lowers A1c, BMI (body mass index), and VO2 max (oxygen use) among patients with Type 2 Diabetes. 

Physical activities allow for the use of more glucose to amplify energy. In this process, insulin is produced to convert the carbohydrate molecules to energy currency, also known as ATP (adenosine triphosphate) – which lowers A1c in the blood.

Some of the best exercises you should consider for lowering A1c include the following:

  • Bicycling
  • Swimming 
  • Brisk walking
  • Water aerobics 
  • Outdoor sports
  • Strength training
  • Resistance training

When figuring out how to lower A1c effectively, consult your doctor regarding exercises that suit your condition. Some physical activities may be too strenuous for your health, leading to other medical issues. 

  1. Aim for Weight Loss

Weight loss and A1c reduction go hand-in-hand. So naturally, when you lose weight, this means that you’re able to use stored lipids, further suggesting that blood sugar levels are within the normal range. Plus, you will lower your risk of other disorders related to diabetes, such as obesity, heart disease, and hypertension. 

When making weight loss your goal, you can consider enrolling in a structured program, consulting a health coach, or planning the process and timeline yourself. Whichever option you go for, check with your doctor first, as there could be steps that will require proper evaluation.

For example, if you decide to go vegan to lower A1c, take the Basic Vegan/Vegetarian Profile Blood Test. This will help your doctor diagnose potential barriers or complications linked to the lifestyle change. 

  1. Manage Your Stress

Increased A1c links strongly with stress and high cortisol production.  According to a study published in the Current Diabetes Reports, chronic stress drives A1c levels to rise among those with diabetes. The research data also supports finding tailor-fitted ways for stress management. 

For example, meditation may work for you to relax and become less anxious. But it may not be the same case with other people who prefer outdoor activities like fishing and camping. 

You can consult your doctor or a wellness coach to find the best way to cope with stress. You can also check your cortisol level, which helps diagnose stress levels through a cortisol blood test

  1. Get Enough Sleep

Lack of sleep increases your risk for diabetes. Shorter sleep duration influences insulin resistance leading to a spike in blood sugar levels. In this sense, getting quality and sufficient sleep will help you manage your HbA1c levels. 

Insulin is a key hormone in processing glucose. Produced by the pancreas, insulin converts sugar molecules to energy or stored fats. Thus, shortage or impaired insulin production leads to high A1c levels.

To take better control of your sugar and generally your health, maintain at least seven hours of sleep as recommended by the CDC. 

  1. Take Care of Your Dental Health

If you have gum disease or gingivitis, your first steps to lowering A1c levels should include treating the periodontal condition. Otherwise, you may see slower progress in your blood sugar management despite following the recommended actions. 

The relationship between dental health and diabetes has been proven to be a two-way street. 

Periodontal treatment reduces HbA1c levels, typically six months after the procedure. On the other hand, those diagnosed with diabetes are also at risk of gum disease and other related complications in the periodontal area. 

In that sense, setting up a dental appointment should be part of your diabetes care plan or blood sugar management agenda. Even around prediabetes, dental health should be monitored closely.

  1. Take Your Medication As Prescribed

There may not be definite steps on how to lower A1c quickly as the changes are generally a slow burn. But in some cases, doctors prescribe medications that lower blood glucose, stabilizing A1c effectively. 

However, having a high A1c level may not warrant a prescription. It will all boil down to your doctor’s assessment of your health and risks for diabetes and its complications. 

Those within the prediabetes range are mostly advised to change their diet and get more active. But again, it can be subjective. Thus, always consult your doctor regarding specific medications. 

Nonetheless, if you are prescribed A1c lowering drugs, make sure to stick with them. Follow the recommended dosage and intake frequency. 

How Does A1c Test Work?

Taking the A1c test, you will need to have your blood sample drawn by a medical technician in a laboratory. Once blood is collected, A1c is measured typically through liquid chromatography and microcomputer technology. 

An A1c blood test uses glycated hemoglobin or HbA1c as a biomarker for the amount of sugar in the bloodstream within three months. 

When glucose, the basic molecular form of sugar, gets transported to cells, the molecule attaches to the HbA1c component of the red blood cell. Thus, the higher the HbA1c correlates to increased blood sugar.   

What Does It Mean To Have a High A1c Level?

Health care doctor help concept

A high A1c value in your test result reveals that your average blood sugar levels exceed the normal range. Consequently, you are at higher risk for diabetes. 

On the other hand, if you’re already diagnosed with the condition, having high A1c levels suggests you need to alter your diabetes care plan. Otherwise, it could trigger diabetes-related complications. 

A1c levels are shown in percentage on the test result. Normal levels fall below 5.7%. Therefore, getting results higher than the said value implies increased blood glucose levels. Specifically, A1c levels between 5.7% to 6.4% indicate prediabetes, while 6.5% and above suggest diabetes. 

Other Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Symptoms of High A1c?

You may have elevated A1c levels if you have symptoms like blurry vision, bloatedness, frequent urination, mouth dryness, fatigue, headache, body pain as well as feeling thirsty and hungry all the time. Still, the best way to confirm high A1c is through diabetes blood tests

How Long Does It Take To Lower A1c Levels?

It will take 2 to 3 months for A1c levels to decrease, provided you employ the recommended steps such as dietary adjustments, exercise, stress management, etc. Lowering HbA1c usually takes time to hit a new average significantly lower than your previous test. 

As a result, you’re advised to take the next blood test after the said timeframe for accurate results. If there are no changes, your doctor will look into the effectiveness of your blood sugar management plan, recommend new treatments, and identify barriers or all of the above.  

How To Lower A1C Level Naturally?

Lifestyle changes mentioned above are some of the actions you can take to reduce A1c naturally. But also consider eating foods that promote healthy blood sugar levels, such as green vegetables, citrus fruits, nuts and seeds, seafood, eggs, oatmeal, beans, and lentils. 

Still, the best way to bring your A1c level down is to become consistent with your diet and stay physically fit. You may not need medications if you’re making good progress with these adjustments.

The Bottom Line

Whether you’re testing for prediabetes, managing diabetes, or simply going through a routine test, finding out you have elevated A1c levels can be upsetting. But with the right steps and consistency, you can lower your A1c and regulate your blood sugar levels. In addition, make sure to undergo frequent testing and establish a good partnership with your healthcare provider. 

Medically Approved By Dr. Edward Salko, MD

Dr. Edward Salko is the board-certified physician who reviews lab tests provided by PERSONALABS™. He earned his Bachelor of Science in chemistry and pre-med from the University of Florida in Gainesville and his Doctor of Osteopathy Medicine in 1980 from Kansas City University School of Medicine.

Dr. Salko’s career has specialized in family and emergency medicine. His passion is to provide clients with the tools they need in the most convenient way possible to allow them to take charge of their own healthcare. He has held a variety of positions in Kansas, Florida and Washington. Currently, in addition to his duties as Medical Director for Personalabs, he is a practicing emergency physician in Kennewick, Washington.

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