Managing hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia means a low blood sugar level. When your blood sugar drops to a level you are not comfortable with, you can become weak, pale, shaky, moody, nauseous, acutely tired. have problems sleeping, headaches, and your body can break out in cold sweat. In children hypoglycemia can occur from birth, especially in small-for date babies They a pear pale, lethargic and can be difficult to settle from toddlerhood onwards low blood sugar can cause hyperactivity and extreme moods, making children very hard to appease Older hyperactive children may become violent and adults have been known to cause grievous bodily harm while suffering from a hypoglycemic attack. Hypoglycemia should be taken seriously, especially as there is so much that can be present and treat it.

One of the problems in diagnosing hypoglycemia is that everyone is different in some people symptoms appear even when their blood sugar level is above the point at which it is technically considered to be low. Your doctor may be unsympathetic medically there is apparently nothing wrong, but you still feel terrible and need to know what can be done

There are two main types of hypoglycemia, fisting hypoglycemia which occurs when you haven’t eaten for six or more hours, and reactive hypoglycemia, which occurs any time from thirty minutes to four hours after a meal. Either type suggests that your blood sugar regulatory system not functioning effectively A third scenario, periodic hypoglycemia is usually caused by hormonal changes in your body

 What causes hypoglycemia?

Usually, when you eat a carbohydrate (sugar-containing) food, either in a simple term itch chocolate or ice cream or in a more complex form such as a piece of bread or potato the body secretes a hormone called insulin The insulin enables your body to use the sugar as fuel or store it as fat for Liter ivies If your body NEC rets too little insulin the blood sugar level remains too high and you become diabetic Hypoglycemia is the opposite condition and is thought in many cases to be due to too much insulin being produced, which leads to the blood sugar level dropping too low

Fasting hypoglycemia is less common and more serious than reactive hypoglycemia, as it can be a symptom of uncontrolled diabetes, armor of the pancreas the organ that secretes

insulin), liver damage, or starvation such as occurs with anorexia nervosa or cancer. Hypoglycemia can also be a symptom of either an underactive or overactive thyroid gland. If you suffer from symptoms such as weakness or dizziness, seek the advice of your doctor. You should also be aware that some medication can precipitate hypoglycemic symptoms, but when you stop taking the medication the condition usually disappears.

The majority of people who feel that they suffer from hypoglycemia simply have a problem with the regulation of their blood sugar levels, which can be easily rectified by adopting good eating habits. The results can be astounding A patient of mine suffered from extreme hypoglycemic attacks, spectrally during the morning when he was stressed at work. These attacks cursed him to lose his temper to such an extent that colleagues were complaining, and be felt so out of control that he thought he was heading for a nervous breakdown on changing his diet, the symptoms completely disappeared.

Testing for hypoglycemia

Many people feel as if they suffer from the symptoms of hypoglycemia I have described. Although it is relatively easy to test for fasting hypoglycemia, it a little trickier to test for reactive hypoglycemia. The most common test used is the Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT). This entails taking a very sugary drink and testing the blood sugar levels at regular intervals, to find out whether your body reacts appropriately to the rise in sugar. If your sugar level behaves abnormally, your doctor may diagnose fasting hypoglycemia, in which case other tests will probably be arranged to determine the cause.

Alternatively, your doctor may tell you that although you don’t suffer from fasting hypoglycemia, your blood sugar level pattern indicates that you have a sensitivity to sugar. which causes your body to overreact to sugary foods? If there is no evidence of an abnormality, your problem could be periodic, or occasional, hypoglycemia Whichever situation you are in, you can do a great deal to eliminate the symptoms. Eating to avoid and treat hypoglycemia The nutritional principles for managing hypoglycemia are focused on keeping Your sugar level as constant as possible. In people who don’t have an abnormal GIT it is often the dramatic fluctuations – the rapid rises and falls in sugar level that cause them to feel unwell, rather than the absolute sugar level.


The first and foremost guideline is to base you’re eating plan on fresh vegetables, fruits, wholegrain cereals, lean proteins, dairy foods, small amounts of fat and plenty of water. See the section on Understanding your nutritional needs. The best way to check whether your diet is well balanced is to keep a food dairy  people are often astounded by the difference between what they think they eat and the facts that face them when they see it written down Keep a note of your symptoms, so that any patterns and trigger foods can be identified.


Eating regularly helps stabilize your blood sugar levels. Try not to leave more than three or four hours between meals or snacks. This citing patter serves two purposes it prevents your blood sugar from dropping too low, and it helps you refrain from overeating at meal times, which could cause your body to become overloaded with various sugar containing foods The majority of people I see find that they feel a lot better.

if they have five are six snacks, rather than two or three large meals a day. Some patients then worry about their weight increasing. You shouldn’t put on weight if the total amount of food you consume throughout the day is Nat greater than you would consume in three normal meals. For instance, save your dessert until two or three hours later. Of course, it is also important that the snacks you choose are neither high in fat nor in sugar.


You can run into problems if you end up having to dash or stagger around looking for good snacks or leave yourself hungry for too long. Fresh and dried fruits and wholegrain biscuits can easily be kept in your bag or at work,


If you eat a sugary food on an empty stomach the effects can be felt in minutes the rapid rise in blood sugar level stimulates your body to secrete a large amount of insulin, which then causes your sugar level to fall very quickly. This is when you experience the horrible dizziness or other symptoms Note that there are various types of sugar in food, such as sucrose glucose. fructose, brown sugar, molasses, honey, and they all have similar effects on blood sugar levels.

The reason that I recommend fruit as a healthy snack is related to the beneficial fiber content: it still contains sugar. in the form of fructose, but the fiber cushions the rise in sugar level. Products labelled ‘no added sugar’ are by no means sugar-free; usually they are high in natural sugar of one kind or another. if you feel that you can’t live without sugary fats, or you really enjoy them as an occasional treat, have them after you have eaten a meal containing a lot of fiber: vegetables, wholegrains (such as brown rice, whole-wheat pasta) or pulses.


Although artificial sweeteners do not directly aggravate sugar levels in the body, I do not recommend them for several reasons. First, they don’t taste very goods, you can feel dissatisfied after a meal or snack and therefore become tempted to eat something else. Secondly, substituting one sweet taste for another does not help our bodies, as we are still subject to the negative cycle of cravings, t’s far better to try to wean ourselves off the desire for excessively sweet things Finally, some people suffer from digestive complaints such as bloating, diarrhea wind or pain when they cat foods containing artificial sweeteners.


Avoiding caffeine (which is present in coffee, tea, cola drinks and hot chocolate can have a positive effect on your hypoglycemic body. Caffeine causes your pancreas to secrete more insulin, thereby aggravating symptoms Some people can tolerate small amounts of caffeine as long as it is not drunk on an empty stomach, but as an initial step I recommend you cut out all caffeine. Be prepared to suffer from caffeine withdrawal symptoms such as headaches irritability for a day or two, but if you can ride through it, taking a heartache relieving pill if necessary, the results will be well worth it. Drink plenty of water herb teas.


Alcohol on an empty stomach causes your blood sugar level to drop rapidly after initially being absorbed very quickly. If you wish to drink alcohol, make sure you have it with a meal that contains some fiber, on prepare yourself with a high fiber Snack before you go out the fiber will help to cushion the adverse effects by slowing down the absorption of sugar into the blood .


Nicotine, present in cigarette smoke, disturbs the production of both insulin and another hormone called glucagon. Glucagon is secreted by the liver in response to low blood sugar levels, it enables the liver to release glucose if you smoke your body can find it very difficult to regulate its sugar levels, as it is forever reacting to a dose of nicotine. You will notice a vast improvement your hypoglycemia if you give up.


Hypoglycemia can be aggravated by excess body weight. low weight and fluctuating weight, crash dieters often suffer from severe hypoglycemia symptoms Try to keep your body weight stable and within the ideal range: if you need to lose weight,   your ideal weight Stress can also aggravate hypoglycemia. Remember that hypoglycemia symptoms decrease your ability to concentrate and perform, so taking time to eat properly is time well spent. Skipping meals is counterproductive This is an important point for parents to emphasize when children are revising for exams.

Periodic hypoglycemia

Some women find that at certain times of the month their bodies become severely hypoglycemic. This can cause mood swings. lethargy and loss of concentration. Men sometimes find that periods of stress can hit them hard, they become short-tempered and unpleasant to be with Children sometimes become dizzy if they play a sports game on an empty stomach. These scenarios are often caused by fluctuating levels of hormones such as estrogen, adrenaline and cortisol.

 , but anyone who suffers from symptoms of hypoglycemia should make an effort to implement the above guidelines, as they can make a significant difference If exercise is your problem area. for instance. during the after-work squash game or a morning gym workout, eat a high fiber, sugar containing snack such as a banana or a few dried fruits about half an hour before you exercise.

Tackling a hypo attack

All of this advice should help to prevent further attacks, but just in case here’s the survival plan

• Have a sweet, high-fiber snack to help bring your sugar level up to normal. Sweets and chocolates are the worst foods for you to take as a rapid rise in sugar level will cause your body to produce a lot of insulin, which will then cause your sugar level to drop even further Fruit combines sugar and fiber so a fruit-based snack is ideal.

· Eat a well-balanced meal as soon as possible.

• Rest. Vigorous exercise will make symptoms worse. Relax, keep warm and have a hot drink such as a mug of hot milk or chamomile tea.

• Avoid caffeine. This will make things worse Diabetics, as the treatment of a diabetic hypoglycemic attack is a little more complicated than this. People who have medical conditions such as a gut malabsorption problem like Crohn’s disease should seek the advice of a professional dietitian.


People who suffer from bouts of hypoglycemia sometimes ask me whether they should be taking a chromium supplement. Chromium is a mineral which is needed in minute quantities in our body. It is essential for the production of insulin, the hormone that controls blood sugar levels. The body also excretes more chromium when you consume a lot of very sugary foods. Therefore, if you avoid sugary foods your chromium level should remain at a satisfactory level.

Boosting your intake of chromium rich foods such as cheese, shellfish (mollusks such as scallops, clams, oysters), baked beans and whole meal products has in some cases improved hypoglycemic symptoms. I wouldn’t recommend a supplement, as the quantities needed are so small