Ideas For Improving Your A1C Test Results
Improving your A1C reading requires you to maintain consistently healthy blood glucose levels over time.
This requires diligence in eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, monitoring your blood sugar regularly, and taking any medications as prescribed.
If you are taking care of the basics and your A1C still fluctuates or is too high, talk to your doctor or nutritionist about fine-tuning your glucose management routine – and consider the following suggestions.
Use a Diabetes-Management App
It seems that coaching support is helpful for improving A1C levels, even when the coaching is digital.
In one research study, 163 participants with type 2 diabetes were given cell phones preloaded with a diabetes-management app. Blood glucose measurements were entered on the app that analyzed the readings. The participants then received a text message suggesting ways to quickly regulate their blood sugar, if necessary.
After one year, those who utilized the app with its provider decision support experienced a 1.9 percent drop in A1C levels. The control group had a 0.7 percent reduction.
Set Specific Goals
Being committed to healthy eating by “doing your best” is not enough to ensure you will get the results you need. It is more effective to set specific, timely, targeted goals. With diabetes, this means detailing the modifications you will make to reduce your A1C.
For instance, in a study involving people with type 2 diabetes, participants were asked to determine a specific number of daily servings they would consume of low-glycemic index foods (foods that digest slowly reducing the likelihood of blood sugar spikes).
The participants, as a group, reduced their body mass indices, weight, waist measurements, and hemoglobin A1C levels. Two things were at work here: eating low glycemic-index foods, and knowing exactly how many of those foods they were required to eat each day.
Increase Your Self-Efficacy
- Having diabetes, and managing it, is stressful for most people.
- Research suggests that people with a sense of self-efficacy – those who view themselves as capable – are more likely to manage stress and their diabetes effectively, which leads to better A1C readings.
Since much of our self-efficacy is based on knowledge and skills, if you or someone you care about is struggling with diabetes management, maybe more training about the illness, nutrition, medication, or equipment use is needed.
It might also be that you need the added support of a counselor who can provide encouragement and teach habits of thought and behaviors that reduce stress and promote confidence.
Experiment with Supplements (with Your Doctor's OK)
There are many herbs and supplements that could turn out to be the straw that broke the A1C camel’s back, bringing your hemoglobin percentage down.
For instance, some scientists found that taking cinnamon capsules can help lower an A1C of 7 percent or more. In their study, participants with type 2 diabetes took one gram of cinnamon daily for 90 days to complement their usual glucose management regimen.
A control group that followed their glucose management routine but without taking cinnamon reduced their A1C by 0.37 percent. The group that took the cinnamon supplements lowered their A1C by 0.83 percent. Taking the cinnamon did not make a huge difference, but it might be enough to help you get your A1C reading where you want it.
Sources: NCBI; Medical Economics; USA TODAY; Iranian Journal of Public Health
Photo credit: Mike Baird