How can I lower my Hemoglobin A1C levels?

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Keith Roach, MD
Internal Medicine
In general, there are three ways to bring your A1c down, whether you have type 1 diabetes mellitus or type 2. A1c is a measurement of the average blood sugar over two months or so, so even if your blood sugar goes to normal today, the A1c will take time to come back to normal.

The first way is through diet. By eating less sugar, and fewer calories in general, your body has to make less insulin. So, what insulin you do make (or take) can be more effective at driving down your A1c. By substituting healthy fats, protein sources, and complex carbohydrates for simple sugars and refined carbohydrates that your body rapidly processes into sugar, you can have a strong effect on bringing down blood sugar.

The second way is to use more sugar. That means increasing exercise, as your muscles can use sugar directly as an energy source. Exercising after eating is particularly recommended to ensure you have adequate energy for your exercise (such as a brisk walk) and can keep the blood sugar from spiking after eating.

Finally, medications can bring down your blood sugar. There are many kinds of medications for diabetes, and only your diabetes doctor or other provider can recommend the right medication for you.

This advice is appropriate for most people, but there are some unusual situations that require very different treatments, so definitely discuss changing your diet and exercise.
Madeleine M. Castellanos, MD
Psychiatry
Hgb A1C is a measure of glycosylated hemoglobin.  This level increases when a person's blood sugar runs higher than normal for weeks.  This change happens over time, so controlling your blood sugar one day, then allowing it to be out of control the next day won't work.  The best way to lower Hgb A1C (assuming it is high) is to have good control of your blood sugar all the time.  The best eating strategy is to have smaller meals with some healthy snacks in between so that you end up eating about 6 small meals a day instead of 3 larger meals a day.  This limits the amount of calories at any one time and keeps your insulin from spiking high after a meal.  If you are diabetic, taking your oral hypoglycemics and/or insulin as prescribed will be part of keeping your blood sugar under good control.  As always, remember that anything with sugar will raise your blood sugar, so stick to foods without sugar or very tiny quantities.

Continue Learning about Diabetes

Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes ...

is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy). There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.