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A quick random blog

Monday, October 03, 2011

One of the Wisteria Wolves mentioned having a rough day because her blood sugar dropped, and I thought to post a little something cautioning people to watch their blood sugar.

Hypoglycemia--low blood sugar--is usually associated with diabetics, but it isn't limited to diabetics. Lots of things can trigger it, including alcohol consumption, some medications (including aspirin), metabolic disorders, diseases of the liver, kidneys, the pancreas, and other adrenal glands, and other organs. It can even be triggered by eating too many refined carbohydrates (sugar, white flour, white rice, etc.) as these break down quickly and cause the blood sugar to spike--which causes the body to dump insulin.

Basically, the way the body works normally is that you eat food, and as it breaks down sugars are released into the blood stream. When the sugar levels rise over a certain point, it flips a switch which causes the body to release insulin, which removes the sugar. After awhile, the blood sugar levels start to drop as the sugar is removed and not replaced--but the body needs a certain level of sugar in the blood. So it flips a different switch, this one releasing glucagon signals, a hormone that tells your liver to release the glycogen (stored glucose in the liver, also stored in the muscles) back into the blood stream. Normal, healthy blood sugar is between 80-100 mg/dL fasting and 100-140 mg/DL after food. If your blood sugar drops below 80 Mg/dL, you have low blood sugar.

According to WebMD, the symptoms of hypoglemia are:

"Mild hypoglycemia can make you feel hungry or like you want to vomit. You could also feel jittery or nervous. Your heart may beat fast. You may sweat. Or your skin might turn cold and clammy.
Moderate hypoglycemia often makes people feel short-tempered, nervous, afraid, or confused. Your vision may blur. You could also feel unsteady or have trouble walking.
Severe hypoglycemia can cause you to pass out. You could have seizures. It could even cause a coma or death."

What to do if you or someone you know has low blood sugar? Well, usually the first response is to get some sugar into the body--juice is one of the best things you can give them because it's a simple sugar that goes quickly to the blood stream. Hard candy, fruit, etc. also work--the simpler the sugar the better (counter our logic most of the time when we want those complex carbs and high fiber foods--the reason we want them normally is because they slow down the body breaking down the food and keep us fuller longer). Then you want to follow it up with something more substantial, because if you just dump a bunch of sugar into the blood stream but don't follow up, it spikes and then crashes again. So you want to eat something with complex carbs but also fats and especially protein--foods to keep the blood sugar even longer.

If you have problems with low blood sugar, you need to make sure you eat regularly, even if it's just a small snack, every few hours--and that snack ideally should include both proteins and complex carbohydrates. If you are prone to it, it's also a good idea to always eat food with alcohol as alcohol suppresses the hormone that tells the liver to release sugar back into the blood.
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  • EILEEN828
    Very nice blog. It pulled alot of scattered info together and painted a picture from start to finish in a neat and concise way. Mini snacks do seem to help me alot, my favorite a few almonds.
    3391 days ago
    This is fantastic info, and should be heeded by all. As you point out, we usually associate it with diabetics, but anyone can have issues with it. Thank you!
    3404 days ago
  • 4CYNDI
    Great info! I know I tend towards hypoglycemia, the low end so I've changed my diet and eat way less of the simple sugars (excluding whole fruits). My go to snacks now are apples and grapes. I'm dreading the time when grapes are no longer feasible as they make a great addition to my lunch box. I digress though.

    Thanks again for sharing!
    3404 days ago
    You know, this sounds *exactly* like what happened to one of my co-workers last night (she ended up going home early 'cause she felt so crappy and she's off sick tonight). Thanks for the info!

    3405 days ago
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