How Do I Lower My HbA1c? (Especially For Those Above a 7.0)
Numerous scientific studies reveal the catastrophic long term results of an elevated HbA1c.
The headline above seems to be all we diabetics hear. Another study about the pitfalls and disasters awaiting us diabetics.
Am I correct in saying, ‘Another study showing my potential demise is only solidifying my anger with the lack of studies on how to control blood sugars effectively and thus avoiding these terribly destructive effects of out of control blood sugars.”
About a dozen years after my diagnosis of type 1, the first indication of damage reared its ugly head. These first twelve years I tried very hard to follow the current advice about blood sugar control but nothing would work consistently and then discouragement set in. I continued to follow the medical advice I had been taught and slowing but progressively got worse.
Beginning with intestinal problems like Crohn’s/colitis, massive systemic inflammation, plantar fasciitis so severe that upon waking in the morning my foot and ankles were one solid mass of inflammation and pain. Walking for the first hour was tricky until they loosened up. Always, always in pain. I felt as if I was ageing right in front of the mirror, looking older than I should and more worn out than my peers. The intestinal issues completely drained any energy I may have once had.
Every day that elapsed was another struggle to manage life because the more out of control the blood sugars the more dramatic the emotions. These emotional swings and lack of understanding of why I was this way, cost me a couple of marriages.
This is another study reporting the conclusion of rapid cellular degradation due to hyperglycemia, from the Journal of Internal Medicine Study abstract:
Diabetes and advanced glycation endproducts
“Prolonged exposure to hyperglycemia is now recognized as the primary causal factor in the majority of diabetic complications.”
“Indeed, it has been demonstrated that intracellular AGEs may form at a rate up to 14‐fold faster in high (30 mM) glucose conditions.”
You may be asking, What are AGEs. this is the scientific description:
“Bio‐reactive advanced glycation endproducts (AGE) alter the structure and function of molecules in biological systems and increase oxidative stress.”
In short, when our blood sugars are high, we create an exponential number of these oxidative stress compounds. These compounds basically cause rapid ageing, inflammation may become systemic. Arterial damage leading to retinopathy, heart disease, strokes and renal failure or complications.
With all this clinical evidence and there are 1500 plus more references to this subject, what can type 1‘s do to position themselves on the right side of science?
The ugly truth is to manage your blood sugars as tightly as possible. Tight, meaning in the normal blood sugar range (4mmol/70 mg/dl to 8mmol/150 mg/dl).
The ability to stabilize your sugars in range will reduce your risk of continued cellular damage and avoid the destructive AGE’s.
But how do you lower your HbA1c when all you do is spend your entire day going up, then going down, this was my problem and may also be yours. So damn frustrating not to mention the overwhelming tiredness and exhaustion you feel when riding the rollercoaster. The sheer inconvenience of a low when trying to go about your busy day or the butt dragging high sugars that completely exhaust us. The family plans interrupted just before you plan to attend because of unruly blood sugars. It sucks, I’ve been there too many times also.
So do I have a silver bullet for you or magic elixir to make this suddenly go away? No, but what we can talk about is what are you currently doing to manage your diabetes. Then incorporate a system that has a proven track record, time and time again. Yes even with all you have going on!
The bottom line is: If your A1c is constantly above a 7.0… you’re likely going to end up another statistic in the studies I referenced above.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Like Type 1s, we’re not sentenced to live a horrible life feeling like crap and then dying early of some of the disease I mentioned earlier.
Instead, we can take control.
Here are 3 Tips to Keep Your A1c Under Control:
1) Try the “Ravenous Experiment”
For years I questioned why, when my sugars were high, was I so hunger, ravenous is more like it. Then when I was in range or getting low, no hunger. So, one day I try an experiment. If you are ravenous when your sugars are above 8 mmol/150 dl/mg, try this experiment.
Resist the urge to eat by drinking water, first. Then depending on your carb dosing, the idea is to take a smaller amount of short-acting insulin to bring your sugars down gently into range but most importantly below 8.5 mmol/150 mg/dl. This is approximately the level people start experiencing the effects of hunger and we want to be below 8.5/150.
The hunger is not a true hunger of the stomach but one of deep metabolic necessity requiring insulin. You see the higher levels of blood sugar are an indication of insulin deprivation and or insulin resistance.
Every cell in your body requires the appropriate amount of glucose for its survival. Without an adequate amount or recognition of insulin, the cell cannot access glucose to burn. Without glucose it gets hungry, sending signals of starvation to the brain. The brain interprets this as hunger and we have this ravenous sensation come over us to start eating. The challenge is to eat and bolus the right amount of insulin to correct for the food and the excess glucose in the blood. When in fact, the bloodstream already carries enough glucose for hours if the insulin levels are corrected. So, no eating required.
By not eating and allowing the blood sugar to reduce you are reducing the amount of caloric intake and thus less insulin. This is critical if weight management has been a concern. The end result is less hunger and again less demand for insulin, win, win.
2) Adjust Your Insulin With the Seasons
You may experience a seasonal change with your insulin demand, requiring more insulin in the winter or darker months.
The relationship of less sun and lower Vitamin D levels are prevalent throughout the entire populations of northern or southern hemispheres. This study shows that Type1’s are low in Vitamin D, to begin with. Vitamin D has been studied for its ability to improve insulin resistance or the correlation between low vitamin D and insulin resistance. Type 1’s may experience insulin resistance when they are using large amounts of insulin, the key is to find that perfect balance for you.
The addition of a Vitamin D + K2 is a great health tool for us Type 1’s. Because we tend to be low, have your levels checked and consider adding it to your routine, you will soon see a difference.
3) Use Magnesium
Very few people get enough magnesium and Type 1’s need this essential mineral more than anyone. Not that we are special, we are, but because the side effects of running a high blood sugar also disrupt the calcium in our system, drawing out more calcium carbonate to buffer the acidity. This higher amount of calcium places a higher demand for magnesium to accomplish many functions, especially the smooth muscles of our organs. An excerpt and link to a study glycemic control in children with hypomagnesaemia:
Magnesium is also critical for relaxing the muscles. Does anyone have stiff calves or feet? I bet you do. Include magnesium into your schedule, you will love feeling relaxed. This condition plagued me for many years but no more.
Over the next 24-hours, try one of these tips and see how you feel. Notice if you feel more stable and whether or not you can feel the impact of taking control here.
It takes knowledge and commitment to bring about change.
Are you ready to do whatever it takes better your HbA1c?
Let me share with you what has worked so effectively with many of my clients and of course yours truly.
If you are above a 7.0 HbA1c…
Looking forward to your call,
- Diabetes and advanced glycation endproducts