Do you have pre-diabetes, diabetes or does it run in your family and genetics? Something to know, medical professionals will use an A1C lab test to help determine if a person’s diabetes is under control. This is also used as an indicator that helps diagnose diabetes. So how does it work?
A1C test measures the percentage or amount of sugar (glucose) that is attached to a red blood cell (hemoglobin). When we eat carbohydrates (carbs) or starches the digestion process turns those items into sugar. Then those sugars can attach to our red blood cells. The A1C level is determined by the amount of red blood cells/hemoglobin to the ratio of sugar/glucose.
A normal A1C is below 5.7. An A1C of 6.5 or higher may be used to diagnosis pre-diabetes or diabetes.
Recap: A1c is the average amount of sugar in your blood and since red blood cells die off every 3months then your A1C can be re-evaluated often.
Learn how and what to do to lower your A1C, better yet, use A1C lowering tips to help prevent diabetes.
If your A1C is based on how much sugar is in your blood, then it makes since to eat less sugar, right? Well that is true but there is a little more to it. Yes, eat less sugar but also limit foods that turn into sugar such as starches and carbs.
Starches such as white rice, white breads, flour based pastas and doughs should be limited. These food items are higher in processed flours that break down to sugar easier than whole grain flours. Did you know that some vegetables contain starches? Starchy vegetables such as potatoes, corn, peas and winter squash should also be limited to occasionally.
Carbohydrates also breakdown to sugar in the blood. Carbs come from flours, grains, and added sugar or even naturally occurring in foods and drinks. There are many healthy carbs in fruits and vegetables. Avoiding healthy carbs is not recommended. The key is to control the total amount of carbs consumed at one time. This is known as “Carb Counting”.
Tips to lower A1C:
1) The first step should be to Reduce sugar added foods and drinks
a. Limit desserts (cookies, cakes, doughnuts, brownies, candy, and ice-creams)
b. Change your drinks to low sugar or no sugar versions (limit/avoid: regular soda, fruit juices, and sweetened drinks (sugared coffee/coffee beverages, sweet teas, regular lemonade, slushes, milk shakes, chocolate milk, and sugary sports drinks unless used for appropriate exercise)
c. Limit sugary alcoholic beverages: mixed drinks, alcohol and regular soda blends, and dark beers. Choose items that are low in carbs and sugar.
2) Learn to count your carbohydrates to control your blood sugar. A general rule for counting carbs is 15-30grams for snacks and 30-60grams for meals. Click Here to Understand Carb Counting
3) Exercise daily! Aim for 30 minutes outside of your daily activity and work toward 60 minutes per day.
4) Lose or control your weight appropriate for you and your body type. Start by setting weight loss goals. Realistic Weight Loss Goals
Hospitality Dietitian Mindy Diller, MS, RDN, LD firstname.lastname@example.org