Grass Roots Nutrition: Blood Sugar

Grass Roots Nutrition: Blood Sugar

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Dear Holly: My doctor just checked my blood work and told be about my Hemoglobin A1c – what is that? -Annual PhysicalDear


Annual Physical: Your Hemoglobin A1C, or HbA1c for short, is a measure of what your blood sugars have been up to for the past two or three months. Everyone has some sugar in our blood: it is how we transport carbohydrates from our food, or from storage in our liver, to fuel our muscles and our brain. This is normal and healthy – we need some carbohydrates to fuel daily living.


We can measure your current blood sugar with a finger stick. For those of us without diabetes or any other issue managing blood sugar, it is usually about 70.


The HbA1c is the measurement of the average past blood sugar readings and is presented as a percentage. This is a measure of sugar permanently stuck to the red blood cells. I like to think about the sugar in our blood as graffiti – the more sugar floating around, the more graffiti will be measured in the A1c.


If your blood sugar is normal, your A1c will be between 4.5 and 5.4%. If your A1c is between 5.5 and 6.4%, that is considered impaired glucose management. It is not high enough to land you with a diagnosis of diabetes, but it is a red flag that something needs to change. If your A1c is 6.5% or greater, that could be a diagnosis of diabetes. Speak with your physician and dietitian to find the right lifestyle changes for you.


Keep in mind that diagnosis guidelines are not the same as treatment goals. For some people with a diagnosis of diabetes, keeping their A1c below 7% is an appropriate goal.


Next time you visit with you doctor, ask him or her what your numbers are, including your A1c. Unfortunately, I have heard clients report that their doctor didn’t tell them their numbers are, or that they brushed them off as ok when they are not. Or worse, a doctor says that your A1c is “a little high” when in fact, it is high enough to be a diagnosis of diabetes. Be your own advocate, ask for the numbers and know what they mean.


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What’s your question for Holly? Send them to For more information and to make an appointment to work on your goals, visit Grass Roots Nutrition, LLC and BrideBod, owned by Holly Larson, Registered Dietitian. Visit Holly online at and follow her on facebook at Have a delicious, healthy day!