When the blood glucose level falls lower than normal the condition is known as hypoglycemia. Certain diseases like some kinds of tumors and liver disease cause a certain type, known as organic hypoglycemia, which usually need surgical or medical treatment. However, there is another kind, which affects some people in whom the body responds in a different manner when food is digested. Some types of foods are digested as well as absorbed swiftly, which results in a sharp spike of glucose in the bloodstream. While the body adjusts quite smoothly to this spike in most people, in some people there is an over-reaction, and a process is set off to lower the blood glucose, resulting in a sharp drop in the blood glucose level. This causes many people to suffer from low blood sugar. Such individuals should follow a diet that helps maintain their blood sugar levels. The information provided in the following paragraphs, will help you change your diet and manage your blood sugar levels.
Hypoglycemia in People with Diabetes
There are two types of hypoglycemia; one that is related to diabetes and one that occurs in people who do not have diabetes. Low blood sugar occurs when the blood sugar levels drop significantly. The main source of glucose is carbohydrate-rich food. When a person skips meals, undergoes rigorous physical activity or takes in a lot of alcoholic beverages, it may result in low blood sugar. The body begins to breakdown the stored reserves of glucose in order to produce energy. People with diabetes tend to take medications and injections that helps lower their blood sugar levels. In some cases, diabetics tend to suffer from side effects of diabetes medications. The oral diabetes medications and insulin injections cause the blood sugar levels to drop significantly.
People often complain of low sugar, during their sleep. These people may find themselves having nightmares, excessive perspiration and may wake up feeling excessively tired, confused or disoriented. Other symptoms include feeling excessively hungry, nervous, dizzy, confused, difficulty speaking, anxiety and weakness.
Diet for Diabetics Suffering from Hypoglycemia
People with low blood sugar should speak to a qualified dietician and plan their low blood sugar diet. However, there is no hard and fast rule when it comes down to hypoglycemic diet. The basic idea is that you should eat food at the correct time to avoid feeling faint and weak. Let us have a look at foods for low blood sugar patients.
- Carbohydrates should not be eliminated from the diet. Instead, the consumption of complex carbohydrates should be increased. Complex carbohydrates are absorbed at a slower rate compared to simple carbohydrates and hence do not cause the quick fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Some of the complex carbohydrates are legumes, vegetables, whole grain rice, pasta, cereals and breads.
- Stay away from foods comprising simple carbohydrates like soda pop, pastries, cookies, cakes, candy, pies, molasses, honey, table sugar, jellies, and jams.
- Increase the consumption of high fiber foods. Fiber is the undigested part of grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits. When these foods are eaten the carbohydrate is absorbed more slowly, thus preventing the sharp spikes and lows of blood sugar that is a characteristic condition. Some of the sources of soluble and insoluble fiber are whole grains such as cereals, bran, brown rice, and wheat; vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage; root vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and beetroots; fruits like apples, strawberries, and citrus fruits; dried beans, peas and other legumes.
- Instead of drinking fruit juice, it is better to eat the whole fruit, whether fresh or canned. The fiber in the fruit slows down the absorption of sugar.
- It is advisable to have smaller meals interspersed with snacks.
- It is best to avoid beverages and foods that contain caffeine because it causes similar symptoms, thus worsening your condition.
- Alcoholic beverages should be avoided, as alcohol causes a drop in blood sugar levels, especially if taken on an empty stomach.
- It is advisable to get your body weight down to optimum levels according to your height, as excessive weight can hinder the body's ability of using insulin.
Types of Hypoglycemia not Related to Diabetes
There are two types of hypoglycemia that can affect individuals without diabetes. The first type is reactive hypoglycemia, also called the postprandial hypoglycemia. This occurs when the body over-reacts to the increase in blood glucose level, within 1-4 hours after meal. The other type includes fasting hypoglycemia. It is also known as postabsorptive hypoglycemia. This condition is often connected to an underlying disease like liver disorder.
Hypoglycemic Diet for Non-Diabetics
When there is a fall in the blood glucose level, the consumption of carbohydrate containing foods can increase it back up, hence a snack or a meal should be eaten. Some people think that eating a candy bar or drinking a sweet carbonated beverage is the obvious solution. However, these foods are made up of simple sugar, which will cause a spike in the blood glucose level and a corresponding sharp fall, thus resulting again in low blood glucose.
A better choice would be eating foods that comprise complex carbohydrates such as cereal, bread, soft pretzel, bagels, or whole grain crackers. The body derives glucose from foods that are made of complex carbohydrate for a longer time period, therefore there is less fluctuations in the blood glucose level. For example, any food made with grain, such as whole wheat bread along with cheese, or any other protein-cum-fat food, is the best combination to eat if you have a tendency for hypoglycemia. This is because the protein and fat slow down the process of digesting the carbohydrate, thus stabilizing the blood glucose level in the body.
The protein-cum-fat food includes half a peanut sandwich on bread with some raw carrots. Low fat cheese eaten along with whole grain crackers will also suffice. You should eat some plain yogurt mixed with fresh fruits to bring up your blood sugar levels. Other foods for blood sugar fluctuations include low-fat milk with banana, half an apple with half cheese slice along with whole wheat bread.
Good Foods for Low Blood Sugar
The following list consists of food for low blood sugar. You can try to include these foods in your diet and overcome low blood sugar. These foods are rich in proteins, good fats, complex carbs and fibrous carbohydrates.
- All types of beans
- Brussels sprouts
- Lean meats and poultry (beef, chicken and turkey)
- Nut butters (peanut butter)
- Plain yogurt
- Protein powders
- Whole grains
It is important that you eat more than three meals a day. You should munch on something healthy every 3 hours to maintain your blood sugar levels. Include complex carbohydrates, proteins, low-fat and high fiber foods in your diet. If you suspect your blood sugar level dropping, immediately eat some complex carbohydrate food. It is dangerous if your blood sugar levels drop below 70 mg/dL. The aim of a hypoglycemia diet is to slow down the absorption of food. Speak to a healthcare expert or a dietitian for advise before starting any type of diet for low blood sugar.