Most people recognize the connection between high blood sugar, diabetes, and increased health risks. That’s why fasting blood sugar (FBS) tests are so common — they can gauge the risks of developing diabetes or prediabetes. But FBS tests are nearsighted and can only tell us your current blood glucose levels, which vary daily.
Unlike a conventional FBS measurement, the hemoglobin A1C test provides a much more comprehensive reading of your average blood sugar levels over the past three months. Therefore, it paints a truer picture of your blood sugar and what it says about your overall health and longevity.
When a high percentage of hemoglobin (a protein in your red blood cells that carries oxygen) is coated in glucose, it can indicate high risks of diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, neuropathy, dementia, brain shrinkage, and accelerated aging.
What the A1C Test Tells You
Your health and longevity are determined by numerous factors, and several of those can be determined through routine hemoglobin A1C tests.
Because the test measures your average blood sugar over the last 12 weeks, it can show how often you make poor nutritional choices. You deserve an occasional sweet treat, but if your A1C levels remain elevated or have not decreased within the past three months, it’s time to make better choices.
A high score can also indicate high circulating insulin levels, which dramatically increases unchecked inflammation. Insulin is important for shuttling nutrients throughout the body and controlling blood sugar. But in high amounts, it’s considered the aging hormone, and the inflammation increases your risks of diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, brain atrophy, and auto-immune disorders.
In addition to dangerous sugar and insulin levels, your hemoglobin A1C test results can correlate with a high level of free radicals flowing throughout your body. A high percentage of glycated hemoglobin proteins can increase the amount of free radicals, which accelerate the aging process by causing substantial damage to your DNA.
5 Steps to Lower Your A1C Levels
The hemoglobin A1C test has always been a part of the routine blood work that I recommend to clients I work with. If the percentage comes back above 5.5 percent, I typically recommend restricting carbohydrate intake, increasing fiber and omega-3 intake, and regular exercise to lower the score and increase longevity.
1. Lower your carbohydrate intake.
Of all nutrients, carbs have the biggest affect on your overall blood sugar. Therefore, lowering your intake is the most important factor in lowering your A1C score. This has been confirmed by virtually every low carb study ever done. I recommend lowering carb consumption to below 50 grams a day and completely cutting out sugar until the score improves.
2. Increase your fiber consumption.
Low-carb foods that are also high in fiber — like vegetables, nuts, and seeds — will lower your body’s insulin response every time you eat. Fiber consumption should be at about 25 grams per day to help better regulate your A1C score.
3. Eat more omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids are vital to increasing your insulin sensitivity, which is necessary for lowering your overall A1C levels. Foods high in omega-3 include grass-fed proteins, wild-caught fish, walnuts, and walnut oil, to name just a few.
4. Check your vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D serves several vital functions, including the processing of calcium and regulating glucose metabolism. Repletion of vitamin D has been shown to be a valuable therapeutic tool for improving A1C scores.
5. Exercise more.
Regular exercise is always good advice, but even more so when it comes to balancing your body’s blood sugar levels. When done with enough intensity, frequency, and volume, strength training is one of the best methods for increasing insulin sensitivity and reducing your A1C scores.
While FBS tests can still play an important role in your health, the hemoglobin A1C test provides a more comprehensive picture of what your blood sugar, health risks, and longevity look like. With this information, you can take better control of your well-being and live a healthier, happier, longer life.