• Monitoring your A1c
  • Watch what you eat
  • Get physically active
  • Control your weight
  • What exactly is A1c?

    Monitoring your A1c

    Watch your diet and keep monitoring your blood glucose at home to help keep your A1c in check.

    Keeping your diabetes in good control is the key to staying healthy. Control is best judged by keeping an eye on both the results of your own home blood glucose monitoring and your A1c result.

    A1c testing should be performed routinely in all people with diabetes. The frequency of A1c testing will depend on your general health and age, the treatment you are on, and the judgment of your diabetes team. For most people, the test should be done annually and the target is to have an A1c of less than 7%.

    There should be a correlation between your A1c level and your own home blood glucose readings. This means the A1c test can also be used as a check on the accuracy of your meter (or the results you report yourself).

    There are simple things you can do each day to maintain your diabetes control.

    Watch what you eat

  • Make sure to eat a variety of foods and watch portion sizes. It is often not what we eat but how much that causes the problems.
  • Cut down on saturated fat as much as possible.
  • Opt for low-fat varieties where possible.
  • Remove visible fat from meats.
  • Grill rather than fry.
  • Cut down on refined sugars by using more natural products.
  • Anything produced in bulk will have fat, sugar or salt added to improve taste.
  • Eat regularly.
  • Skipping meals or eating at different times each day can make it difficult to keep your blood sugar level under control. Likewise, eating on the move is not a good idea as you do not get the enjoyment or satisfaction from what you eat. It also makes it more difficult to keep track of what you are eating and when.

    Get physically active

    Regular physical activity is an important part of managing diabetes. Physical activity can help lower your blood sugar level and help reduce your risk for heart disease, which is linked to diabetes. Being active helps your body transport glucose into your body cells and will make weight management easier.

    Everyone can be more active - even sitting in a chair, you can do leg and arm exercises. Where possible, everyone should have at least 30 minutes of brisk exercise a day - for many that may be a walk at a speed at which you can carry on a conversation but at the same time you get warm.

    Control your weight

    If you're overweight, try to lose those extra pounds or at least make sure you are not putting on any more. If you can lose even a few pounds, your blood sugar levels may be easier to control and you may be able to reduce your medication. When trying to lose weight, it is a good idea to cut out alcohol, as we all know that after a drink, those 'niblets' are often too tempting to refuse. So start today, find out what your A1c is and follow the steps above to lower it or if already under 7% to keep it there.

    What exactly is A1c?

  • A1c is a chemical title for glycosylated haemoglobin. Haemoglobin is the red pigment in our red blood cells that carries oxygen around the body.
  • Glucose sticks to haemoglobin permanently and the more glucose in the blood, the more of our haemoglobin gets glucose attached to it.
  • The glycosylated haemoglobin is the amount of our haemoglobin with glucose stuck to it, expressed as a percentage. Results are within a narrow range, from 5.5% to 12%, so even a small change like 7.8 to 7.3 is quite important.
  • Haemoglobin doesn't last forever, so it gets replaced regularly with fresh stuff that doesn't have any glucose on it, then we start again. That is why we say that the A1c gives an impression of our blood glucose levels over the previous three months.
  • Each sharp rise in our blood glucose only makes a little glucose stick to haemoglobin, so the overall A1c percentage doesn't rise much. A relatively high glucose level, say 12mmol/l, over a long period like two weeks, has a much bigger impact on the A1c, than the occasional high.
  • Issue May/June 04