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September 2018

5 Ways to Lower Your A1c

If you have diabetes, you’ve probably heard about the A1c test. This blood test assesses your average blood sugar level over the previous three months. It’s important to know how well your blood sugar is controlled over time. In the long term, high blood sugar can harm your heart, blood vessels, kidneys, feet, and eyes.

Two people riding bicycles along a mountain trail

A1c results are written as a percentage. For many people with diabetes, the goal is to keep that percentage below 7. But some people have a different goal. Ask your doctor what’s right for you.

So what should you do if your A1c number is too high? These steps can help lower your A1c level and reduce your risk for long-term health problems.

  1. Be more active every day. Aim for at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity, such as walking briskly, cycling, swimming, and dancing. Ask your doctor for advice on safe, effective exercise.

  2. Follow a diabetes meal plan. Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, fish, skinless poultry, lean meats, and nonfat or low-fat dairy products. Work with your healthcare team to create your eating plan.

  3. Address your stress level. Too much stress can raise blood sugar levels. When you’re feeling pressured or overwhelmed, try taking deep breaths, meditating, going for a walk, or listening to soothing music.

  4. Take diabetes medicine, if your doctor prescribes it. Keep taking your medicine as directed even when you’re feeling fine.

  5. Check your blood sugar at home, if your doctor recommends it. This lets you track shorter-term blood sugar changes.

One final reminder: Don’t forget to schedule your next A1c test. Most people with diabetes should have the test at least twice a year. If your last A1c number was too high, however, your doctor may recommend more frequent testing. It’s a great way to gauge the progress you are making toward better diabetes control.


Dish up better eating habits

Practice making healthy food choices with this online tool from the American Diabetes Association.

Online Medical Reviewer: Gonnella, Joseph, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 7/2/2018
© 2000-2020 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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