Managing your blood sugar levels is a fundamental component of modern health and wellness. We live in a time of unprecedented abundance, where calorie- and carbohydrate- dense foods are almost always within reach. In recent years, healthcare researchers and practitioners have grown increasingly alarmed by the rise of an “obesity epidemic,” as well as a subsequent increase in diabetes diagnoses.[1]

We’ll show you why understanding the relationship between blood sugar and hemoglobin A1C is crucial for living a healthy lifestyle, as well as offer important tips for keeping your blood sugar levels in check.

What is HbA1c, and how does it affect my health?

Hemoglobin, found within red blood cells, transports oxygen to cells throughout your body. Glucose naturally binds to hemoglobin during a process called glycosylation, leading to an identifiable protein called HbA1c. The higher your average blood sugar levels, the more glycosylation will occur – leading to more detectable HbA1c.[2]

High HbA1c levels are associated with prediabetes and symptomatic diabetes.[3] If your HbA1c levels are high, you may be at risk for developing symptomatic diabetes, or it may be an indication that the therapeutic treatment you are following is not sufficient.

How is HbA1c tested?

The HbA1c (A1C) test is generally used to identify high blood glucose levels by measuring the amount of glycosylation of the hemoglobin in the red blood cells. Among other uses, the test helps diabetic and prediabetic patients track their average blood sugar over time. With regular testing, patients can monitor their progress and track the impact that medication, lifestyle, and healthy habits have on their blood sugar.[4]

The test measures the relative amount of glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) compared to the total hemoglobin in your blood. Blood glucose levels are greatly impacted by lifestyle and frequently change. HbA1c readings – which measure an average over a period of 60 to 90 days – are less likely to be impacted by daily glucose fluctuations.[5]

What is a healthy A1C range?

In 2019, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommended a reasonable A1C goal for many non-pregnant adults, defined as <7% (53 mmol/mol). Providers might reasonably suggest more stringent A1C goals (such as 6.5 % [48 mmol/mol]) for selected individual patients if this can be achieved without significant hypoglycemia or other adverse effects of treatment.[4]

Less stringent A1C goals (such as <8% [64 mmol/mol]) may be appropriate for certain patients and are frequently contingent on other health factors.[4]

chart diabetes levels
Courtesy of the American Diabetes Association

What are the most recent innovations in HbA1c testing?

For patients monitoring their HbA1c levels – i.e., patients at risk for or actively managing diabetes – the OneDraw™ A1C Test System by Drawbridge Health is an exciting new technology that provides a convenient, comfortable way to collect blood for A1C testing. The OneDraw™ A1C Test System is comprised of the OneDraw Blood Collection Device and the OneDraw A1C Test.

onedraw device to collect blood for a1c testing

The OneDraw Blood Collection Device is a small, single-use device that draws, collects, and stabilizes a capillary blood sample from the upper arm. Instead of using a traditional hypodermic needle to puncture a patient’s vein, the device is placed on the skin and blood is gently collected using tiny lancets with a light vacuum suction. The blood sample is then stabilized and contained within a removable cartridge and transport sleeve, designed to protect the sample during transport to a designated certified clinical laboratory, where the A1C Test is performed.

Learn more about OneDraw, from Drawbridge Health.

How do I lower my A1C levels?

Whether you have diabetes or just want to live a healthier lifestyle, there are several reliable ways to reduce your A1C/blood sugar levels, including:[6]

  • Nutrition: A nutritious diet consisting of whole foods, with limited refined carbohydrates and adequate fiber, is a primary way to manage blood sugar levels over time.
  • Exercise: Regular exercise helps keep the pancreas healthy and functional, helping your body metabolize sugar.
  • Planning: In partnership with your physician, you should develop a robust wellness plan — that includes diet, exercise, and if required, medication — and follow through.
  • Routine monitoring: Routine A1C monitoring is critical for tracking changes to your blood sugar over time, allowing you to see the impact your lifestyle changes are making.

The Takeaway

Taking proactive steps to ensure a healthy blood sugar-to-hemoglobin A1C ratio is advisable no matter your health circumstances. By making good nutritional choices, exercising, and (if required by your physician) performing regular A1C monitoring pillars of day-to-day life, you can work towards a healthy blood sugar level and metabolism.

References

  1. “The Epidemic of Obesity and Diabetes,” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3066828/
  2. “Types of Diabetes Mellitus,” https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/guide/types-of-diabetes-mellitus#1
  3. “Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes,” American Diabetes Association 2019 (Volume 42, Supplement 1).
  4. “Hemoglobin A1c Test (HbA1c),” https://www.emedicinehealth.com/hemoglobin_a1c_hba1c/article_em.htm#how_is_hemoglobin_a1c_measured
  5. “Medical Definition of Glycosylated hemoglobin,” https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=16295
  6. “15 Easy Ways to Lower Blood Sugar Levels Naturally,” https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/15-ways-to-lower-blood-sugar#section2 

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