Every day Jacqueline A. would crawl out of bed with barely enough time for a piece of toast and her morning coffee. At work she began noticing that although she was productive for the first couple of hours, if she didn’t have her mid-morning coffee and cigarette, she knew she couldn’t make it until lunch-time.
Jacqueline usually ate her lunch at her favourite pasta restaurant and always left time to enjoy another coffee and cigarette. On her way back to the office she usually stopped at the local bakery for dessert. But something always happened to Jacqueline in the afternoon. No matter how much coffee she drank, she was unable to stay alert and concentrate on her work. More often than not, she became irritable and angry with her co-workers. By the time she left for home, she was tired and depressed.
What happened to Jacqueline is not unusual for many people who suffer from hypoglycemia. While her daily routine my seem exaggerated to the health conscious individual, it is very similar to how thousands of people treat their bodies. If we followed Jacqueline home, we’d probably see that she’d have more pasta for dinner. And because of the numerous cups of coffee she drank during the day, she may have a cocktail before bed to help her sleep.
Hypoglycemia is clinically understood to mean low-blood-sugar. There has been a long-standing debate between the orthodox medical community and nutrition-minded practitioners concerning the prevalence of hypoglycemia. Orthodox doctors feel that this condition is over diagnosed, while others have seen this diagnosis change the lives of thousands for the better.
Glucose from carbohydrates is an important fuel that our muscles and organs rely on for energy.
Our brains are fuelled exclusively by glucose and can last for only a few minutes in its absence. Insulin regulates the amount of glucose in our blood-stream and assists in its entry into tissues. Normally, this system functions smoothly and blood sugar levels never get too high or too low.
When we ingest simple carbohydrates, such as white bread and sugar, they are broken down very quickly and the resulting glucose floods our blood stream. When the body senses this it secretes enough insulin to clear the glucose away and may ultimately leave too little.
The body will not allow glucose levels to drop too far without offering another chance for recovery.
The problem lies within the over-stimulation of these systems. Our bodies should not need to do this as often as it sometimes does. When we provide the body with only simple carbohydrates and stimulants we, in effect, exhaust the mechanisms that would normally keep our blood sugar levels stable.
Most symptoms of hypoglycemia occur 2-5 hours after eating. Exercise may also trigger symptoms because the body has utilized (burned-up) its fuel. The primary symptoms are:
Because the brain relies heavily on glucose, it is usually the first to suffer from low levels. It is easy to see why many hypoglycemics are misdiagnosed with psychological problems. Premenstrual Syndrome is often linked to hypoglycemia. Behavioural problems in children can frequently be traced to a diet of refined carbohydrates and junk food.
As stated earlier, refined (simple) carbohydrates are the worst enemy to stable blood sugar. Foods such as white flour products, refined grains, and sugar cause a rapid rise in blood sugar followed by a rapid drop. Complex carbohydrates such as whole grains and vegetables provide a steady supply of glucose and lasting energy.
Caffeine causes an increase in the release of insulin which clears the blood stream of glucose. The “high” one experiences with caffeine is often followed by a sharp drop in energy and the symptoms of hypoglycemia. Unfortunately the answer for many is to reach for more coffee.
Chronic stress can be detrimental to the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar. In addition, the adrenals are constantly being challenged and may eventually stop functioning well.
Smoking increases the release of both insulin and glucagon. Initially there is a release of too much sugar, followed by an insulin clean-up. As with coffee, a smoker may address symptoms of hypoglycemia with another cigarette.
Alcohol not only increases insulin production, it also interferes with normal glucose utilization. As expected, a rapid drop in blood sugar occurs after drinking. Craving is one of the symptoms of hypoglycemia, and for the drinker this means an increase in the desire for more alcohol. Chronic alcohol abuse can lead to more serious insulin problems like diabetes.
It is impossible to stress enough the importance of a good breakfast. If the body has a steady supply of energy, the “afternoon slump” so many people are familiar with will not occur. By eating frequent high-quality meals, the bloodstream never has too much or too little glucose. When we miss a meal, our blood sugar plummets to the point where symptoms occur.
|Chromium||enhances the body's ability to utilize insulin|
|Niacin||facilitates the uptake of glucose and may help prevent or slow the progression of diabetes|
|B Complex||for proper digestion and utilization of foods, and for the conversion of glucose to energy|
|Zinc||needed for proper release of insulin|
|Magnesium||Aids in carbohydrate (sugar) metabolism|
|Dandelion root||assists pancreatic function which controls insulin production|
|Licorice||aids the adrenals and regulates blood sugar|
|Devil's club||helps regulate blood sugar|