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Diabetic Diet Plan to Lower A1C

Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use insulin. In 2014, 8.5% of adults aged 18 years and older had diabetes. In 2019, diabetes was the main cause of 1.5 million deaths, and 48% of them occurred before the age of 70. (1)
Diabetes treatment includes having a proper diet plan and regular physical activity, lowering blood glucose and the levels of other known risk factors that damage blood vessels. Insulin is necessary for type 1 diabetes; people with type 2 diabetes can be treated with oral medication but may also require insulin.
Hemoglobin A1C
is a blood test for type 2 diabetes and prediabetes. It measures your average blood glucose or blood sugar level over the past three months. (2)
A normal A1C level is below 5.7%; if your A1C is between 5.7-6.4%, you are prediabetes and at risk of diabetes and must retest for diabetes every year. And finally, if A1C is more than 6.5%, you have diabetes and should test twice a year. If your A1C result is too high, you may need to change your diabetes care plan. The goal for most people is to lower their A1C below 7%. (2)
Some factors can impact A1C level and falsely decrease or increase your A1C result, including liver disease, kidney failure, some medicine, blood transfusions, blood loss, thalassemia, severe anemia, early or late pregnancy, etc. If you have any other factors, let your doctor know and ask if you need any additional tests.
A1C is an important factor for managing diabetes in the long term. But not the only factor for managing diabetes, and it doesn't replace regular blood sugar testing at home. (3)
If your blood sugar levels are too high, your A1C levels get high too. Lowering blood sugar levels will reduce the A1C percentage. Many studies show that lowering A1C levels can help slow the progression of diabetes and its side effects, such as nerve damage or cardiovascular disease in both types of diabetes. (4, 5)

How Can You Lower A1C Levels?

As mentioned before, to lower A1C, you should lower blood sugar and control it in the long term. You can reduce the A1C percentage by changing your diet plan, exercising, and taking medicine. A diet plan and exercise work for long-term weight loss and thus will reduce A1C levels. Diet, in particular, has the strongest nonpharmaceutical effect on A1C levels. You can't increase your physical activity enough to make up for the excess calories that most people take in, but you can easily control your diet plan.

Diet Plan to Lower A1C

What and how much you eat directly affects your blood sugar and, in turn, affects your A1C. First of all, getting into the habit of eating three meals a day and three snacks is a great way to control blood sugar and A1C levels. In addition, aiming to eat your meals at about the exact times each day will make it easier to stabilize your blood sugar. Do not skip meals or delay eating your meals as much as possible. Skipping meals, too much time passing between meals, overeating, or too often eating can cause your blood glucose levels to fall and rise too much. Blood sugar ups and downs especially happen if you take any diabetes drugs or insulin.
So the first step is to regulate your eating time and your diet.

Choose the Right Carbs in Your Diabetic Diet Plan

Some people with diabetes think carb foods are evil, and they should avoid carbohydrates as much as possible. But reality and research show something else. It's difficult to cut out carbs completely, and it's not the smartest thing to do in a diabetic diet to lower A1C because carb foods provide essential nutrients that you won't get from protein and fat. It is important to consider foods with complex carbohydrates in your diet plan.
Refined carbs, such as sugar, chips, soda, cookies, and other sweets, some white bread and white rice have been stripped of their fiber and most vitamins and minerals; they just contain calories and can cause spikes in blood sugar. Besides increasing the risk of diabetes, overeating refined carbs have been linked to some other chronic diseases like CVD or obesity. Then you should avoid refined carbs in the diabetic diet plan to lower A1C.
So, choose unrefined carbs full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals in your diabetic diet plan to lower A1C. These carbs include whole grains, whole fruits, vegetables, and legumes.

Watch the Number of Carbs You Eat in a Diabetic Diet to Lower A1C

Although you are allowed to have healthy carbs in a diabetic diet, and eating them provides benefits, the amount of carbs you consume directly affects your blood sugar and should be under control.
Overeating carbs from any food source in the diet can mean higher blood sugar and a higher A1C. Aim to eat the same amount of carbs in your meals and snacks each day and count grams of carbs in each meal; for example, try to eat 40-50 grams of carbs in main meals and 20-30 grams of carbs in snacks.
Carbs counting helps you keep your blood sugar steady and A1C in your control, whether you take diabetes medicine or not.
Since each person needs different amounts of carbohydrates, it's best to check with a dietitian about your diet carb goals.

Eat More Fiber in Your Diabetic Diet Plan to Lower A1C

Fiber has a significant impact on blood sugar. Dietary fiber plays an essential role in controlling blood glucose and risk factors associated with diabetes like cholesterol, CVD, obesity, etc. A diet high in fiber lowers your blood sugar. You can get dietary fiber in two ways, taking supplements or getting through your diet. (6, 7, 8)
Increasing your dietary fiber can also help manage cholesterol levels and weight. High fiber foods are filling, and most are lower in glycemic index (GI), which can help control your appetite while having less effect on blood sugar levels.
Soluble fiber, with a particular role in reducing blood cholesterol, blood sugar, and A1C, is found in oat, oat bran, nuts, linseeds, barley, soya, fruit and vegetable, beans, pulses, and lentils. Among good sources of insoluble fiber are bran, nuts, seeds, whole-meal bread, wholegrain cereals, and the skin of some fruit and vegetables. (9)
Eat more high-fiber foods in your diabetic diet plan to lower A1C, but keep an eye on the portion sizes of your diet, especially if you are watching your weight.
You can add salad or vegetables to your diet plan without any concern about gaining weight.

Be Fat Smart

Dietary fat is particularly interesting in the diabetic diet because fatty acids affect glucose metabolism, enzyme activity, insulin signaling, and gene expression. According to some research, replacing saturated fats and particularly trans fatty acids with unsaturated (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated) fats in the diabetic diet plan to lower A1C benefits insulin sensitivity and likely reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. (10, 11)
A diet of less than 30% total calorie intake, with a low intake of saturated and trans fat, in particular, is the optimal diet for enhancing insulin sensitivity, improving type 2 diabetes, and lowering A1C.(12)
In a diabetic diet plan for lowering A1C, saturated fats from meats, chicken skin, and fat-rich dairy products should be replaced with foods rich in healthy oils, including nuts, seeds, olives, avocado, and vegetable oils like non-hydrogenated margarine. (10)

The bottom line

Although a good diabetic diet plan is one of the most important parts of a healthy lifestyle to lower A1C, you shouldn't forget physical activity. If you want to lower your A1C, consider regular exercise. Exercise and being physically active provide numerous health benefits like lowering blood sugar and A1C. Other advantages are weight management, building muscles, reducing the risk of heart disease, increasing energy, lowering the risk of depression and stress, and improving mood.
Note that if your physician has prescribed medication, such as metformin, miglitol, insulin, or anything else, it's necessary to take them exactly as prescribed and on time.

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