How to Lower A1C Naturally

How to Lower A1C Naturally

Type 2 diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in the United States. It’s also a condition you can prevent or manage with lifestyle changes — provided you know you’re at risk. One of the best tools for identifying your risk for diabetes is an A1C test, which you can get at your primary care provider’s office. With the results in hand, you can talk to your provider about how to lower your A1C levels and, potentially, prevent diabetes and its many long-term complications.

Why a Healthy A1C Matters

An A1C test is a simple blood test that measures your average blood glucose (sugar) levels for the past three months. Three months is the average life span of red blood cells, where blood sugar is found. The test shows whether you’re at risk for prediabetes, a condition that puts you at increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. It’s also used to diagnose diabetes and can show how effective diabetes treatments are over time.

Read More: Reverse Prediabetes for a Better Future

“Adults who are overweight or obese should receive a baseline A1C test at age 35,” says Roxanne Davis-Cote, MPH, RD, LD, certified nutrition support clinician at Beaufort Memorial. “If you have a health condition that increases your risk for diabetes or prediabetes, A1C testing should continue every three years.”

Healthy A1C measurements vary person to person, based on age and general health, Davis-Cote adds. Rather than a specific number, A1C levels get measured in percentages. According to the American Diabetes Association:

  • A healthy A1C is less than 5.7%.
  • An A1C between 5.7% and 6.4% suggests you have prediabetes.
  • An A1C level of 6.5% or higher indicates possible diabetes.

3 Easy Tips for Lowering A1C Levels

Unless your A1C levels are very high, you may be able to lower your levels with healthy lifestyle choices, thus helping to manage or prevent prediabetes and diabetes.

Here are three tips for how to lower A1C naturally:

  1. Eat a balanced diet. Load up on fresh fruits and vegetables, which are rich in fiber. Soluble fiber — the type found in beans, nuts, seeds and certain fruits — has been found to be particularly helpful in lowering A1C levels. Eat fewer starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, corn and squash, as these have more carbohydrates and a bigger effect on your blood sugar than non-starchy vegetables. Limit simple carbohydrates, such as refined grains and sugar.
  2. Get active. Active muscles are better at using insulin (a hormone that helps your body manage blood sugar levels) and using sugar for energy. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise every week. Combining aerobic activities, such as walking, jogging and swimming, with resistance exercises, which involve weights, resistance bands or body weight, offers greater benefits than aerobic or resistance exercises alone.
  3. Manage stress. Over time, stress hormones can raise blood sugar levels. Eating a balanced diet and exercising can help you manage chronic stress, but you can take additional steps. For instance, recognize your limits, and avoid taking on too many responsibilities at work and at home. Get seven to nine hours of high-quality sleep every night. To make sure you sleep well, establish a regular bedtime, don’t drink caffeine in the afternoon, and turn off devices 30 minutes before bed.

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Get support for managing your diabetes. Talk to your primary care provider about a referral to our nationally recognized Diabetes Self-Management program.

If your BMI is greater than 30 and you are concerned about your risks for developing prediabetes or diabetes, talk to your primary care provider about our Healthy Weight Program.