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When it comes to diabetes most doctors will regularly check a patient's Hemoglobin A1c. This will indicate if their blood sugar is being maintained well or if changes need to be made. Checking your blood sugar with a glucose monitor is very important but this will only give a snapshot of where the patient is at that moment. Testing your A1c on the other hand, takes the average blood sugar level for a 2-3 month period of time. The goal in most cases is to get a number as close to 6 percent or below as possible. Having an A1c that is 5.7% - 6.4% is considered prediabetes. An A1c at 6.4% or higher is considered diabetes.
If you tell your doctor your glucose has been good and your test results are within limits, your A1c should reflect that. If your A1c is still too high, it may be time to make some changes. Keep reading to learn about 5 ways to reduce your A1c.
Get Enough Sleep
I am sure we can all relate to a little sleep debt here and there, but what happens when you’re drowning in sleep debt? On top of becoming moody and forgetful, people that suffer from chronic sleep deprivation can find themselves at higher risk of developing or aggravating many chronic health conditions. These include:
During the day, we put our bodies and minds through a barrage of stress and stimuli. When we sleep our body takes the down time to recover and repair. While there seems to be some debate on the amount of sleep we all need, what isn’t up for debate is consistency. Whether you do better with five hours or nine is individual to you, but it’s still important to stick to a regular schedule. Develop a nightly routine and try to stick with it. Over time, this routine will become a habit and you'll find your sleep debt disappearing before your eyes.
Make Healthy Food Choices
I know how hard it is to find time for shopping and cooking healthy meals and I occasionally end up going through a drive-thru. Once in a while isn’t a big problem especially since many of the fast food restaurants are offering healthier options. If you need to hit up the drive-thru, I suggest checking out their website beforehand. That way you can check out their menu and nutrition facts before you get there. Knowing what you are going to order ahead of time will make the meal less stressful and you will know how many carbohydrates and calories are in the food before taking your first bite.
Another way you can build a healthier diet is to have a wide variety of choices. If all you do is make the same dishes over and over, you will not only become bored with you options but may not be getting a full range of nutrients. Trying new foods, recipes, and cooking techniques will help keep things interesting and ensure you are getting a variety of vitamins and minerals in your diet.
Drink Plenty of Water
As a diabetic myself I know all about the constant thirst. Sometimes while I am drinking water, I am thinking about how thirsty I am. For some people drinking water is a chore and they would rather drink other things. The problem is that juice, soda, and other beverages may not quench your thirst or re-hydrate you. If you constantly drink soda, for example, your blood sugar will rise and your brain will signal you to drink more. By drinking water, your high blood sugar will be diluted and your thirst will subside for at least a short while. A good rule of thumb is to try and drink at least half of your body weight in ounces a day. If your weight is 200 pounds, try to consume 100 ounces of water each day. I use an app called WaterMinder on my phone to help me stay on track.
Get up and Move Everyday
I am very lucky, because I like to exercise. I know that for many people exercise is considered a chore and finding motivation can be downright impossible some days. I think that the problem might lie in the way people view exercise to begin with. I love yoga and I love to run. These are two things I have been doing for years and they work best for, because I do not like going to the gym. I can do yoga in my living room first thing in the morning in my pajamas. Running is great for me because all I need are my sneakers and a strong sports bra. The point I am trying to make is that everyone can find an activity that works for them. If you are a busy parent, try going on a family walk or bike ride. This will get your heart pumping and your muscles warm. Other benefits include;
Regular exercise will also reduce your A1c, because food metabolism is directly related to the amount of activity you get. How much and how often should you exercise? You should exercise only on the days you plan to eat. I hope you eat everyday like me, if that’s the case then plan to workout in some capacity every day for at least 30 minutes. I am not talking about a full on sweaty, gasping for air, and trying not to lose your lunch type of workout. I’m just saying, you need to get your blood pumping and your body warm. This will go a long way towards improving all aspects of your life. It’s not about burning the most calories, but maintaining and improving your metabolic rate.
Listen to Your Body
Of all the things you and I can do to improve our health and reduce our A1c, the most important is to listen to what our bodies are trying to tell us. How can we do this? By regularly monitoring our blood glucose levels. Get out you monitor and check your sugar. Go to all your doctor’s appointments and ask about your numbers. Ask about your cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglycerides. While you’re at it ask about your liver and kidneys too. Your doctor should know about your liver enzymes, do you?
If there are areas of your health you do not understand, ask your doctors. The more you learn the easier it will be for you to take charge of your health and set goals to improve it. Even if your blood sugar is currently under control you could still practice good habits and work towards a stronger metabolism.
If you are on insulin and doing everything your doctor prescribes but are still having a hard time managing your A1c, you may want to consider the pump.
What are some suggestion you have for reducing your A1c? Leave comments below if you have some ideas to share.