While you may require medications to help manage your diabetes, there are lots of day-to-day lifestyle practices that can help manage your condition and have a significant effect on your A1C level, which is the level measured by a common blood sugar test your doctor may administer to monitor your average blood sugar level over a period of 2-3 months.
A1C tests work by measuring the amount of glycated hemoglobin in your blood. Hemoglobin is a molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen. The binding of glucose to hemoglobin creates glycated hemoglobin. The more glucose that is in the bloodstream, the more glycated hemoglobin will be detected by the A1C test. An A1C level of over 6.5 percent indicates Type 2 diabetes. Depending on individual circumstances, most people with the condition will aim to get their A1C level to less than 7%.
You can you lower your A1C level naturally and keep your diabetes under control using these 3 key lifestyle tips:
It’s one of the most effective natural ways to control blood sugar levels naturally. One study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine found that in a sample of 251 diabetes patients assigned to four exercise groups (aerobic exercise, resistance training, a combination of the two, or no exercise) the group that incorporated aerobic exercise and resistance training into their daily routines received the greatest benefit: on average they had an almost 1% lower A1C reading, which is a significant indicator of not only lower blood sugar but also of lower risk of diabetes complications such as kidney disease, heart disease and stroke.
Even incorporating short periods of moderate exercise in your daily routine can be a helpful step in the right direction. For example, if you normally stay seated during breaks at work, instead you could try taking a walk while listening to a podcast. It could be helpful to invest in a couple of small weights that you could lift for 10 minutes while waiting for dinner to cook or watching TV. Fitting exercise into those little gaps in your day could be what you need to get started with a consistent exercise habit that could substantially reduce your A1C levels over time.
2. Eat Healthily
Eating a balanced diet with proper portion sizes is important in any diabetes management plan. There are certain foods that will exacerbate blood sugar problems and should be avoided, such as sugary desserts, fatty foods and highly processed food. It’s also important to replace sugary soft drinks with water or other low-sugar beverages such as tea. If you like your tea or coffee with sugar there are non-harmful sugar substitutes available, such as stevia, a natural plant-derived sweetener.
In addition to avoiding harmful foods, you can also add several A1C lowering foods to your daily diet. Replacing fatty meats with low fat lean protein such as baked chicken or salmon can lower blood sugar levels. Several types of fish also contain health-promoting omega 3 fatty acids, which can lower triglycerides, among other benefits. Eating antioxidant-rich foods such as berries can also keep diabetes under control.
3. Make Plans
The best way to stick with the A1C-lowering modifications you make to your daily routine is to set aside time to carefully plan out your lifestyle modification strategies, make a record of your plans, and come up with a system to quickly and easily track your progress each day. For example, you can use a journal to brainstorm small changes you can make to your routine and how you will incorporate them into your day, and then use a calendar to mark off time for exercise, healthy meal planning, etc. There are even apps out there that you can use to track your daily progress toward reaching your goals. A helpful free app called Strides, available on the ITunes store, allows you to define and track custom goals and set your own progress milestones.
Making these simple modifications to your daily routine and developing easy, efficient ways for keeping track of them can help you manage your diabetes naturally and lower A1C levels. As always, it’s best to work closely with your doctor when developing a treatment plan that works for you and your individual needs.