Monitor your A1C Blood Sugar Levels
A1C measures how much sugar has become attached to your red blood cells over the previous 90 days. Because of this, it is not a test you can "cheat" by being good for a day or two before having your blood tested. Here is how it is scored:
Normal A1C: 4.8 - 5.6
Prediabetes A1C: 5.7 - 6.4
Diabetes A1C: 6.5 or more
If your A1C is high, your doctor may order more diagnostic tests including a Fasting Blood Sugar Test (FBS), a Random Blood Sugar Test (RBS) or a 2-hour glucose tolerance test.
How Dangerous is High Blood Sugar?
If you become diabetic, it can contribute to heart disease, strokes, kidney disease or cause blindness. Sometimes your circulation becomes so poor that you need to have a portion of your legs amputated. As mentioned above, diabetes often leads to death.
Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Diabetes and Prediabetes
If your A1C levels are at the high end of the normal range or in the prediabetes range, it is not too late to avoid developing diabetes. There are lifestyle changes you can make which may lower your blood sugar numbers before they reach dangerous levels and begin to damage the organs in your body. Below are a list of changes which are recommended by AARP, the American Diabetes Association, and my healthcare provider, Kaiser Permanente. The good news is that the tips below are the basis of a healthy lifestyle, whether you are in danger of developing diabetes or not.
For additional help, you may want to order a book from Amazon such as: "The Type 2 Diabetes Cookbook and Action Plan."
1. Lose Weight - If you are overweight, losing 5 to 10 percent of your current body weight can reduce your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
2. Exercise - At least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, 5 days a week, can also reduce your risk. Include a mixture of aerobic exercises such as brisk walking or swimming, along with strength training to increase muscle strength, and stretching exercises to increase flexibility. Try not to spend too much of your day sitting. The longer you spend in a chair each day without getting up and moving around, the greater your risk.
3. Eat a healthy diet with plenty of colorful vegetables - For a healthy dinner, half your plate should be filled with vegetables such as dark green leafy veggies, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and similar foods. One-fourth of your plate can be a protein such as red meat, chicken, turkey, fish, soy or beans. Your serving of protein should be about the size of a deck of card. One-fourth of your plate should be carbohydrates including potatoes, corn, peas or whole grains. Avoid refined breads and try to get between 25 and 30 grams of fiber a day.
4. Limit fruit - While fruit can be part of a healthy diet, limit yourself to three small servings a day and avoid juices completely. It is much healthier to eat whole fruit rather than drink juices. Even "healthy" vegetable juices often include fruit juice as their base. These juices can cause a sudden spike in blood sugar levels.
5. Avoid sweetened beverages - Minimize your consumption of sodas, energy drinks, sweetened coffee drinks, sweet tea, mixed drinks and other high calorie, sweet beverages.
6. Limit unhealthy foods - Cut back on sweets, sugar, honey, desserts, chips, fast food and other high calorie snacks.
7. Eat three meals spaced out during the day - Space out your meals so you do not go longer than 4 to 5 hours during the day without eating. This will help you avoid eating too much during one meal, causing your blood sugar levels to spike.
8. Practice relaxation - Whether you take up meditation, yoga or other spiritual programs, learning to relax has been shown to be an effective way to reduce your risk of diabetes.
What If You Cannot Reduce Your Blood Sugar Levels?
If you try the above suggestions for a few months and find you are unable to lose weight or lower your blood sugar levels on your own, consult your healthcare provider. They may recommend that you attend classes, try a more intense weight loss program, take medications or even consider weight loss surgery.
Whatever you decide to do, your goal is to prevent your prediabetes from turning into diabetes and, if you already have diabetes, minimize the damage. This is not a health problem you want to ignore.
For more information, check out the website of the American Diabetes Association.
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