A condition in which blood sugar plummets and the body becomes starved of the energy it needs to function is known as hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.
Symptoms Of Low Blood Sugar
Uncomfortable symptoms can include:
- Inability to concentrate
- Rapid heart rate
In some cases, there can even be nausea, double vision and balance, and hearing problems. These symptoms are all associated with a low supply of glucose to the brain, which needs sugar to function. Although diabetes, which causes hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) seems to be the opposite of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), the dietary treatments for both conditions are very similar. The key factor is to keep blood glucose concentrations stable and avoid as many fluctuations as possible.
Eat Little But Often
help keep blood glucose continually topped up, lessening the dips which can make you feel fatigued and affect mental performance. Avoiding heavy meals also means you are less likely to experience troublesome peaks in blood sugar. These temporary elevations- bigger after a predominantly carbohydrate meal-are followed by a large insulin release and a sharp decline in blood sugar.
As a bonus, there is some evidence that eating little and often can make it easier to maintain a healthy weight, and consuming regular small amounts of carbohydrate foods is also the best-known way to cope with premenstrual symptoms and cravings, which can all relate to blood sugar levels.
As a rule of thumb, you should aim for four half sized meals plus two to three snacks a day. Apples, bananas toast, breakfast cereals, dried fruit, and a handful of unsalted nuts make good choices.
Glycemic Index (GI Factor)
If eating little and often is not practical for your lifestyle then you need to plan the meals you do eat more carefully. The secret is to become acquainted with the glycemic index (GI) of carbohydrate foods- the new way of classifying them according to how fast they raise blood glucose. Foods with a high GI cause sharp rises in blood sugar, whereas foods with a low GI raise blood sugar more gently and for longer, and so are better to avoid symptoms of hypoglycemia.
No meal is important than breakfast, and if you are going to make it through the morning without a flirtation with the biscuit tin you will need to eat a breakfast that keeps blood glucose levels raised for as long as possible. Unfortunately, some of the more popular choices like toast and marmalade or sugary cereals have a high GI, and just don’t cut it for those with a tendency towards hypoglycemia.
A better choice would be a steaming bowl of old fashioned porridge. Alternatively, you could temper any rise in blood sugar with a bowl of natural yogurt and fresh fruit, or choose an omelet or boiled egg instead. The main point is that eating breakfast is essential to raise your energy levels, but making the right choice is vital to avoid those catastrophic mid-morning dips.
Some researchers are convinced that having breakfast the night before can offset certain symptoms of low blood sugar experienced on waking, particularly morning migraines. Because morning migraines occur at all ages, especially at weekends when it’s common to rise later, there is no reason to suppose a similar regime would not work for adults too. But if you do eat snacks late, make sure it is something light and non-fatty if you want to avoid sleeping problems. Cereal or a milky drink fits the bill well.
How To Avoid Low Blood Sugar
- Do eat regular meals and snacks.
- Do take regular gentle exercise- it helps improve insulin control.
- Do try taking a supplement of chromium.
- Do take medical advice if symptoms persist.
- Don’t eat too many highly refined sugary foods.
- Don’t skip meals, particularly breakfast.
- Don’t drink large amounts of coffee or alcohol, especially without food.
- Don’t do strenuous exercise on a completely empty stomach. It can cause blood glucose to fall.