Why do you suffer from Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar levels)?
Hypoglycaemia is the medical term used to describe low blood sugar levels and the symptoms that arise from it. Rather than an actual disease itself, hypoglycaemia is a syndrome which is indicative of another health problem and, whilst it is most commonly associated with diabetes, there are a number of other conditions that can result in low blood sugar levels.
When you eat foods that contain glucose, it is absorbed into the bloodstream and eventually taken to your cells where it is used for energy. This process requires insulin, which is produced by the pancreas in response to the intake of glucose. Excess glucose not needed for energy is stored either in the liver or muscle as glycogen for later use; or is stored in fat cells as body fat.
When the mechanism of releasing glycogen from the liver or muscle in response to low blood glucose levels becomes impaired, symptoms of hypoglycaemia develop.
- Side effects of certain medications
- Excessive alcohol
- Certain cancers
- Serious illnesses such as kidney failure, liver disease or heart problems
- Insulinoma (pancreatic tumour)
- Hereditary fructose intolerance
- Hormonal deficiencies
- Early stages of pregnancy
- Prolonged fasting
- Long periods of strenuous exercise
Signs and symptoms
The main symptoms associated with hypoglycaemia are:
- Feeling dizzy
- Trembling, particularly of the limbs
Symptoms may also include:
- Being pale
- Feeling weak
- Feeling irritable when hungry
- A higher heart rate than usual
- Blurred vision
- Temporary loss of consciousness
- In extreme cases, coma
- Regular exercise can help – simply walking for 30 minutes each day can help to stabilize blood sugar levels.
- Keep meal times regular and don’t skip meals. Include healthy snacks so that there is no more than 3 hours between eating.
- Keep a record of when hypoglycaemic attacks occur, and the events that precede them – so that lifestyle can be adapted accordingly and the necessary steps taken to rectify it.
All simple and refined sugars (including white sugar, brown sugar, fructose, corn syrup, honey, chocolates, sweets, cakes, biscuits, ice-cream, jams) should be avoided as these cause massive highs and lows in blood sugar levels and stress the pancreas and adrenal glands.
Eliminate processed and junk foods, fried foods and salt.
Alcohol will also cause major swings in blood sugar and should be avoided.
Eat foods high in fibre (such as artichokes, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, chia seeds, flaxseeds, beans, apples, pumpkin seeds, almonds and sweet potatoes), and eat small, frequent meals.
Maintain a good intake of healthy fats, such as Virgin coconut oil, MCT oil, extra virgin olive oil, nuts and seeds (like almonds, chia, hemp and flax), and avocado.
Some symptoms of low blood sugar may be related to, or made worse by, food allergies, so it is worth having this investigated.
Some people find that a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet improves their symptoms. (This seems to conflict with research that shows that high protein intake can impair the body’s ability to process sugar, possibly because protein increases insulin levels, which in turn reduces blood sugar levels).
Even modest amounts of caffeine may increase symptoms of hypoglycaemia. For this reason, caffeinated drinks (such as coffee, tea, energy and some fizzy drinks) should be avoided.
Nutritional supplement treatment options
Chromium supplementation can prevent blood sugar levels from falling excessively in people with hypoglycaemia.
Copper has been shown to help control blood sugar levels in diabetics. Since there are similarities in the way the body regulates high and low blood sugar levels, copper might be helpful for hypoglycaemia as well.
Glucomannan is a water-soluble dietary fibre that is derived from konjac root (Amorphophallus konjac). Trials have shown that the addition of glucomannan to a meal can prevent hypoglycaemia in adults.
Magnesium – Research has shown that supplementing with magnesium can prevent blood sugar levels from falling excessively in people with hypoglycaemia.
Other minerals and vitamins that have been found in research to help control blood sugar levels include:
- Vitamin B3
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
Botanical treatment options
Bilberry leaves have traditionally been used to control blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Research shows that all berries help reduce the body’s glucose response after eating a high sugar meal.
Other herbs for hypoglycaemia include:
Alfalfa, bitter melon, black cohosh, damiana, dandelion, ginseng, gymnema sylvestre, ho-sho-wu (polygonum), licorice, mullein, parsley, saw palmetto, suma, uva ursi.
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Article contributed by Dr Tracy S Gates, DO, DIBAK, L.C.P.H., Consultant, Pure Bio Ltd. Copyright © Pure Bio Ltd 2023. All rights reserved. Pure Bio Ltd is a leading UK supplier of the highest quality PURE nutritional supplements, based in Horsham, West Sussex.
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