By John Reinhold
What Is HbA1c?
HbA1c (also called A1c or Hemoglobin A1c) is a measurement used to determine your average blood sugar over roughly 90 days.
Because the measurement is an average, it is important to note that fasting the night before a blood test and brief diets do not have an impact on the results. For example if you drank a 2 liter of soda before your test it will have minimal if any impact your A1c result but if you often drank 2 liters of soda during the past 90 days your results would likely be impacted significantly. Likewise, if you applied all of the suggestions below you may realize an improved score in as little as 3 weeks.
Chronically high levels of blood sugar will damage organs and may indicate that a person has diabetes. A fasting blood sugar below 100 or HbA1c below 6 is considered normal, but even a fasting level in the 90’s or HbA1c above 5.7 are associated with increased risk for type 2 diabetes. Diabetics, untreated, will commonly have a fasting blood sugar above 125 or HbA1c above 6.5.
Unfortunately the damage caused by having higher than normal insulin production (as a result of excess body fat) begins years before a person is diagnosed as being diabetic. The excess insulin promotes clogging arteries which in turn eventually leads to heart attacks and strokes.
Additional Steps To Take To Achieve Ideal Blood Sugars Include:
- Work closely with your doctor or medical team - especially if you apply any of the information in this section. Your blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight may radically change in a short period of time.
- Lose weight – as little as 5lbs of extra fat can inhibit your body’s ability to allow insulin to carry glucose into your cells. With 20lbs of excess fat your pancreases may be forced to produce twice as much insulin and with 50lbs it may be forced to produce six to ten times as much insulin as a lean person.
- Learn more about supplements and dietary approaches that help regulate blood sugar by reviewing the information here.
- Do Strength Training – a progressive routine of 20 minutes or more at least twice a week goes a long way to improving blood sugar control.
- Activity after meals functions much like medication as your muscles burn sugar upon exertion. As little as 5-15 minutes of walking can make a big difference.
- If you are taking diabetic medication ask your doctor if he would be willing to reduce or remove medications known to make weight loss difficult. Allowing your blood sugar to temporarily be elevated may be a good long term approach if your lifestyle changes can ultimately produce weight loss and long term blood sugar control.
American Diabetes Association, 2010 Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes Position
Statement: "Individuals with an A1C of 5.7-6.4% should be informed of their increased risk fordiabetes as well as CVD and counseled about effective strategies to lower their risks (see IV.PREVENTION/ DELAY OF TYPE 2 DIABETES). As with glucose measurements, the continuum ofrisk is curvilinear, so that as A1C rises, the risk of diabetes rises disproportionately. Accordingly, interventions should be most intensive and follow-up should be particularly vigilant for those with an A1C _6.0%, who should be considered to be at very high risk.However, just as an individual with a fasting glucose of 98 mg/dl (5.4 mmol/l) may not be atnegligible risk for diabetes, individuals with an A1C_5.7% may still be at risk, depending onthe level of A1C and presence of other risk factors, such as obesity and family history." You can find the complete ADA Standards of Care here by going to Section I. C.
<4.2% below normal (possible abnormal hemoglobin's)
4.2% - 5.6% low risk for diabetes
5.7 - 5.9% increased risk for diabetes
/= 6.0% high risk for diabetes