Springtime is the perfect "lower your A1C" time
If your healthcare provider has talked to you about reducing your A1C test result, or you want to make some improvements to your diabetes care, this is the ideal time to get started. After all, warmer weather makes it easier to get outside and get active, fresh foods are easier to come by, and the sunshine may help you feel like you can conquer anything.
7% vs. 7.0 mmol/L
First, let's be clear on what your A1C result means. It can be a little confusing, as the A1C is a percentage, rather than a direct measurement of the glucose in your blood.
Your regular blood sugar checks tell you the amount of glucose present (in mmols) in a litre of blood at one moment in time. Your A1C, on the other hand, measures the percentage of your hemoglobin cells that have glucose attached. The higher your blood sugar, the greater percentage of cells carrying glucose. Because red blood cells only live for a few months, the A1C gives you a look at blood sugar levels over two to three months.1 For the sake of comparison, if your blood sugar averages out to about 10.2 mmol/L, you'd likely have an A1C of around 8%.1
Diabetes Canada recommends an A1C of 7% or less for most people, although you and your doctor may decide that another target is better for you.2
How to lower A1C levels: 7 steps to take
If you need to lower your A1C, anything you do to keep your blood sugar in range—particularly healthy food choices and activity—will help. Here are six spring-friendly ideas to try.
1. Savour a farmers' market. Be inspired by local produce and take advantage of the bounty grown all across Canada. Try adding one more serving of flavour-packed fruits or vegetables to every meal.
2. Eat seasonally. While you're at the market, look for items in season and discover new ways to prepare them. Daikon. Pea shoots. Cardoons. Farmers are also often happy to share ideas.
3. Enjoy a morning or evening walk. It doesn't have to be a long distance at the start, but try to work up to about 30 minutes, five days a week, if it's okay with your doctor.3 Taking in the fresh morning air or the sunset can be a great reward for getting out there.
4. Eat in the garden. If there are others in your household, sit down together. Moving to a new space with no TV or distractions can make it easier to slow down and eat mindfully.
5. Set a water goal. Replace empty calories and dull hunger pangs by increasing your water intake. Fresh mint or a few slices of lemon, cucumber or strawberries can keep it interesting.
6. Light the barbecue. It's easy to cook lean meats and fish without a lot of extra fat on the grill. Then you can grill fruit for dessert while the coals burn down.
7. Step outside your comfort zone. If you're feeling energized by the change in seasons, it's the perfect time to try something new. Swimming, cycling, pilates or a dance class—what have you been hesitant to try? This is the day to do it!
1WebMD. Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) test for diabetes. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/guide/glycated-hemoglobin-test-hba1c. Accessed November 30, 2018.
2Diabetes Canada. Managing your blood sugar. Available at: https://www.diabetes.ca/diabetes-and-you/healthy-living-resources/blood-.... Accessed November 30, 2018.
3Diabetes Canada. Physical activity and diabetes. Available at: https://www.diabetes.ca/diabetes-and-you/healthy-living-resources/exerci.... Accessed November 30, 2018.
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