The importance of A1c and how to lower it

What is A1c? What are the health issues that can result from a high A1c? What are some ways of lowering your A1c?

A1c is a simple blood test that gives doctors a picture of your average blood sugar over the last two or three months. If you have diabetes, keeping your blood sugar in a healthy range is key. In fact, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that a healthy blood sugar range is an A1c of less than 7% for most people.*

The ADA recommends that you get your A1c test twice a year, so you can help catch spikes in blood sugar levels. If your medications have changed or your last A1c was not in your target range, then the ADA recommends testing every three months.

Issues from a high A1c

When A1c rises above 7%, the risk for issues like stroke and heart disease also rises.‡ Plus, high blood sugar can harm your heart, blood vessels, kidneys, feet, and eyes.

Your healthcare team is here to help

If your A1c is high, your healthcare team is available to help. They understand that life challenges can come up and influence your diabetes management. They can review your medications, diet, and how often to test your blood sugar.

3 ways to lower your A1c

Here are some helpful tips to lower your blood sugar and manage your diabetes:

Get moving – Being active makes your body more sensitive to insulin and helps control your blood sugar levels and lower your A1c. When you are active on a regular basis, it can lower your A1c. The ADA recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week.# Read how to add more movement in your day and tips on exercising safely when you have diabetes.

Eat right – You don’t have to give up your favorite foods if you have diabetes. Instead, you may need to eat them in smaller portions (every two to three hours) or prepare them in a healthy way. Check out these healthy recipe options from the ADA in their diabetes food hub. Here are some quick tips:

  • Eat at regular times and don’t skip meals.
  • Drink water instead of juice or soda.
  • Limit alcoholic drinks.
  • For a sweet treat, choose fruit.
  • Control your portions using the plate method.

Take your meds – Most people with type 2 diabetes take medications and/or insulin. Taking medication as prescribed helps to manage your blood sugar and lower your A1c. But what if your medications stop working so well? It’s common for the effectiveness of your medications to change over time. Your doctor may adjust your medications to work better for you.

Consider Virta

Take the guesswork out of lowering your A1c and reducing the risk of diabetes issues with Virta®. Virta’s nutrition program doesn’t require calorie counting or exercise, and it’s tailored to your tastes and lifestyle. Virta is designed to reverse diabetes with a personalized treatment plan to help you lose weight, lower your A1c, and reduce or stop your medications – all at no additional cost. See if you are eligible.


The Big Picture: Checking Your Blood Glucose, American Diabetes Association

†  Health Checks for People with Diabetes, American Diabetes Association

‡  Risk Factors for Diabetes-Related Complications, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

# Weekly Exercise Targets, American Diabetes Association  


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