Blood sugar imbalances are very common in today’s society. Both high and low blood sugar can have negative effects on the human body. Many people realize that hyperglycemia is a harmful state that can lead to diabetes and obesity over time. What is not talked about enough, however, is hypoglycemia and why it is necessary to avoid it.
In this article, we’ll look at what hypoglycemia is, the common causes and symptoms, along with things you can do to improve it. If you often find yourself suddenly hungry or have drastic energy drops during the day, then hypoglycemia is likely present.
What is hypoglycemia?
Hypoglycemia is when blood sugar falls below the normal threshold for the body. This is typically less than 70 mg/dL for most people. This state is commonly reached in three ways:
- Too many fast-digesting carbohydrates are consumed per meal, causing a large spike in insulin that rapidly lowers blood sugar.
- You burn your sugar stores and the body is not adapted to using fat as an alternative energy source.
- In diabetic patients, too much insulin was given after a meal.
When blood sugar drops so low, the body goes into a panic that can cause many different symptoms.
What are the symptoms of hypoglycemia?
When blood sugar falls below the body’s threshold, several things happen. There will immediately be a spike in cortisol. Cortisol plays the role of releasing stored sugar from the liver to temporarily increase blood sugar. In times of stress, this serves to provide an immediate source of energy. In this context, it fulfills the function of preventing hypoglycemia.
Symptoms of hypoglycemia include:
- Tremors in the hands and muscle weakness in the lower limbs.
- Mood changes and disorientation.
- Tiredness and lethargy.
- Blurry vision.
- Sudden and abrupt hunger.
- Sudden sweating for no apparent reason.
- Agitation and palpitations.
- Dizziness and vertigo
- Tingling on the skin,
- In the case of being in bed, falling asleep and not being able to wake up can be a symptom of severe hypoglycemia, in these cases, the person must be woken up by someone else and be assisted immediately by medical personnel.
Particularly if you notice this happening around 3 hours after a meal, you are likely experiencing hypoglycemia. This can be confirmed by using a blood glucose monitor to measure the level of sugar in the blood.
How to act in case of hypoglycemia?
During an episode of mild to moderate hypoglycemia, the person is usually aware of these symptoms. The main treatment is to administer carbohydrates, which are a form of sugar.
In cases of severe hypoglycemia, where the person is unconscious, medical assistance is urgently required so that they can receive glucose intravenously. Hypoglycemia can happen unexpectedly and have serious consequences, especially if it is severe.
The pancreas and blood sugar.
When we talk about hypoglycemia, it helps to understand how blood sugar is controlled. The pancreas creates two primary hormones that play regulatory roles in maintaining blood sugar levels. These two hormones are insulin and glucagon.
Insulin is released when we consume carbohydrates. Carbohydrates raise blood sugar, and insulin helps move sugar out of the blood and into the muscles and liver as glycogen. When excess sugar is consumed, it is stored as fat or cholesterol.
Glucagon has the opposite function of increasing blood sugar by stimulating the release of stored sugars in the liver. It is stimulated by low blood sugar, cortisol, and protein consumption. The glucagon also promotes fat burning.
Insulin overproduction and excessive carbohydrate consumption lead to hypoglycemia, the stimulant glucagon may play a therapeutic role in keeping blood sugar stable.
How to avoid hypoglycemia?
Having understood in a very basic way the balance of sugar in the blood, we can analyze what are the best strategies to avoid hypoglycemia. If hypoglycemia is something you experience on a regular basis, you may need a number of strategies to avoid it. However, the best option is undoubtedly a consultation with an endocrinologist who can refer you to a nutritionist specialized in diabetes or hypoglycemia.
1. Reduce your carbohydrate intake
First of all, it is important to reduce your carbohydrate intake. It is the constant bombardment of carbohydrates that leads to fluctuations in blood sugar. When blood sugar rises, so does insulin. Elevated insulin causes the blood sugar level to lock up.
Those who follow a standard American diet tend to consume between 300 and 500 carbohydrates per day. A more suitable range to start with would be between 100-150 grams. Ideally, this would come from low-glycemic sources such as root vegetables, organic berries, apples, grapefruit, and small amounts of raw honey. Lowering carbohydrate intake to about 30 grams per meal appears to provide desirable effects for some people.
Opting for foods rich in fiber will further slow the release of sugar into the blood while providing benefits to the gut with foods that produce butyrate. Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid that can provide many metabolic benefits to the body and can provide benefits for people with metabolic disorders.
2. Eat healthy fats.
By cutting back on carbohydrates, you can replace those calories with healthy fats, which will help further stabilize your blood sugar. Eventually, working on converting fat into a primary energy source over carbohydrates can go a long way. In the initial stages of reducing your carbohydrate intake, they will serve to satiate your appetite.
Combining healthy fats with carbohydrate-containing foods helps reduce the glycemic response to many foods. This helps stabilize blood sugar and prevent recurring hypoglycemia after meals.
- Nuts like almonds, cashews, and walnuts.
- Olive oil and olives
- Peanut butter and peanut oil.
- Sesame seeds.
3. Add magnesium to your diet.
Magnesium is involved in hundreds of processes in the body. Based on a wide range of research, we now know that magnesium actually plays an important role in regulating blood sugar. In fact, a recent study showed that low magnesium stores in the body increase the risk of fatty liver and prediabetes .
The best foods for magnesium include green leafy vegetables, pumpkin seeds, sea vegetables, wild fish, avocado, and dark chocolate.
Using additional magnesium supplements can be very helpful in maintaining high magnesium levels as well. The most used is magnesium chloride that can be added to the daily diet.