Managing Hypoglycemia with Better Diet and Lifestyle Choices

Glucose is the most crucial energy source for the human body. 

In most of our body cells, glucose is broken down to produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the energy molecule that fuels many of our cells’ processes. 

Glucose is delivered to our cells from the bloodstream. Therefore we need a steady supply of glucose in the blood to supply energy to function properly. When there is insufficient glucose in the blood, the person will suffer from hypoglycemia, adversely impacting cell and organ function.

People with hypoglycemia often experience fatigue, sweating, shakiness, irritability, and sometimes irregular heartbeat. When the condition worsens, the person may lose consciousness, suffer from seizures, end up in a coma, and even lead to death. Therefore, you want to be mindful of any symptoms indicating abnormally low blood sugar levels.  

Glucose in the blood either comes from the food that we eat or from the breakdown of glycogen, the glucose storage molecule, which is converted into glucose when needed and released into the bloodstream.

When the food we eat is digested, glucose is released from it. The glucose is then absorbed by the small intestine and enters the bloodstream. 

The body cells then take up the glucose from the bloodstream for use as an energy source or to be stored for future use in the liver or fat tissue.

When checking blood glucose levels, mild hypoglycemia is defined as having blood glucose under 70 mg/dL for over 10 minutes. Mild hypoglycemia does not require external assistance, but sugar needs to be ingested fast. 

More severe hypoglycemia needs immediate medical attention. 

Those with diabetes are most prone to hypoglycemia. However, if you consume a poor diet or on an extreme weight loss diet, consume alcohol regularly, suffer from an eating disorder, or have problems regulating glucose metabolism, you may also develop hypoglycemia. 

Various medications are available to control hyperglycemia. However, those medications are associated with adverse reactions such as hypoglycemia, weight gain, digestive issues, liver toxicity, and skin rash. Overall, blood glucose levels are not well controlled by medications alone, mainly due to poor compliance, inappropriate self-care behavior, and psychological difficulties with self-administered insulin injections. 

Herbal supplements and dietary changes are safe, effective, and often also convenient; therefore, they should be considered the first line of treatment. [1-11]

Here are some ways to prevent hypoglycemic episodes:  

1. Reduce or eliminate alcoholic drinks

Drinking alcohol can inhibit gluconeogenesis, the metabolic pathway that generates glucose in the body. Furthermore, alcohol can prevent the liver from functioning as it should, reducing liver glycogen content. So there is a decrease in blood glucose levels that may drop to severely low levels and cannot be fixed by releasing the glucose stogie molecule glycogen because the body is deficient in glycogen due to alcohol consumption. This is especially a problem for people with diabetes at risk of hypoglycemia. The alcohol can remain in the body for hours, impacting your liver and blood sugar levels for a long time. Moreover, alcohol may also adversely interact with medication for diabetes. [12-16]

Choose foods with a low glycemic index (GI)

Swap high GI foods such as refined carbohydrates and sugar with low GI options to promote better blood sugar management. There are favorable effects of low GI diets on fasting glucose and insulin sensitivity. In a decade-long study led by a team from the College of Health Solutions and Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center in Phoenix, participants on diets with a low GI score showed improvements in markers of glucose balance. [17]

Foods with a low glycemic index score include green vegetables, all legumes, and whole grains. Most fruits are also low on the GI scale.

Eat smaller meals or snacks throughout the day.

Skipping meals is harmful to people prone to hypoglycemia, but it’s also problematic as you tend to get too hungry in between meals. Therefore, if you are high-risk for hypoglycemia, it is better to eat smaller meals every 3 to 4 hours a day than large meals three times a day.

If you’re too busy to plan and prepare small meals every four hours, practice smart snacking. According to research, healthy snacking habits can regulate plasma glucose, boost insulin release, and improve glycemic control. [18] Snacks that are low GI and healthy include bananas, grapes, apples, and oranges. Other delicious snacks for people prone to hypoglycemia are whole-grain crackers with all-natural peanut butter, fresh vegetables with hummus, and nuts with fresh berries. 

Food combining

Since carbohydrate-rich foods affect blood glucose levels the most, consuming various foods with different glycemic indices in the same meal can help control hypoglycemia. 

Consuming a meal rich in fiber from whole grains or potatoes along with a protein source such as any legumes or seeds has been shown to reduce both daytime and nighttime hypoglycemia. On the other hand, consuming foods with a high glycemic index such as refined carbohydrates along with fats has been shown to increase daytime hypoglycemia.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon has been clinically studied, showing strong scientific evidence supporting the hypoglycemic activity of cinnamon in type 2 diabetic patients. However, this study also showed that cinnamon provides limited benefits in lowering blood glucose levels in specific subject populations, including type 1 diabetic and postmenopausal type 2 diabetic patients [19-23].

Fenugreek

Fenugreek has shown high consistency in lowering fasting blood sugar levels (FBS) or glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels in diabetic patients.

The best results were shown with daily supplementation of 15 g fenugreek seed soaked in water or 100 g of fenugreek seed powder, or 5 g of natural fenugreek.

However, scientific evidence also shows that fenugreek does not lower blood glucose in healthy and obese subjects. [24-33]

Takeaway

To lower the risk of hypoglycemia and all of its effects on your health, you want to minimize alcohol consumption and the consumption of high GI foods that may disrupt healthy glucose levels. If you also practice good snacking and food combining habits throughout the day, you can prevent hypoglycemia. Because severe hypoglycemia can be life-threatening, it’s crucial to monitor blood sugar levels and symptoms.

Feel free to comment below and let me know what you liked best about this article.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I’d be honored if you would share it with your family, friends, and followers by clicking the Like, Tweet, and Share buttons. If you are serious about improving your health no matter what your age or circumstances, and are ready to finally achieve optimal health and lose the weight you’ve been struggling with, then click HERE to check out my online Guerrilla Diet Wholistic Lifestyle Bootcamp for Healthy and Lasting Weight Loss.

If you are not already on my mailing list where you will receive my weekly articles packed with scientifically based health, and nutrition content, as well as many FREE bonuses and special offers, and much more, then  click HEREto subscribe.

Thank You, 🙂

Dr. Galit Goldfarb

References

  1. Ho J, Leung AK, Rabi D. Hypoglycemic agents in the management of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Recent Pat Endocr Metab Immune Drug Discov. 2011;5:66–73.
  2. Levetan C. Oral antidiabetic agents in type 2 diabetes. Curr Med Res Opin. 2007;23:945–52. 
  3. Bartlett HE, Eperjesi F. Nutritional supplementation for type 2 diabetes: a systematic review. Ophthalmic Physiol Opt. 2008;28:503–23.
  4. Plutzky J. Macrovascular effects and safety issues of therapies for type 2 diabetes. Am J Cardiol. 2011;108:25B–32B. 
  5. Lee T, Dugoua JJ. Nutritional supplements and their effect on glucose control. Curr Diab Rep. 2011;11:142–8.
  6. Madsbad S, Kielgast U, Asmar M, Deacon CF, Torekov SS, Holst JJ. An overview of once-weekly glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists-available efficacy and safety data and perspectives for the future. Diabetes Obes Metab. 2011;13:394–407. 
  7. Home P. The challenge of poorly controlled diabetes mellitus. Diabetes Metab. 2003;29:101–9.
  8. Starner CI, Schafer JA, Heaton AH, Gleason PP. Rosiglitazone and pioglitazone utilization from January 2007 through May 2008 associated with five risk-warning events. J Manag Care Pharm. 2008;14:523–31.
  9. Davì G, Santilli F, Patrono C. Nutraceuticals in diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Cardiovasc Ther. 2010;28:216–26. 
  10. Hollander P, Raslova K, Skjøth TV, Råstam J, Liutkus JF. Efficacy and safety of insulin detemir once daily in combination with sita-gliptin and metformin: the TRANSITION randomized controlled trial. Diabetes Obes Metab. 2011;13:268–75.
  11. Najm W, Lie D. Herbals used for diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome. Prim Care. 2010;37:237–54.
  12. Deaciuc I.V., D’Souza N.B., Lang C.H., Spitzer J.J. Effects of acute alcohol intoxication on gluconeogenesis and its hormonal responsiveness in isolated, perfused rat liver. Biochem. Pharmacol. 1992;44:1617–1624. doi: 10.1016/0006-2952(92)90480-7. 
  13. Mathew P, Thoppil D. Hypoglycemia. [Updated 2021 Jan 13]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. 
  14. Madison L.L., Lochner A., Wulff J. Ethanol-induced hypoglycemia: II. Mechanism of suppression of hepatic gluconeogenesis. Diabetes. 1967;16:252–258. doi: 10.2337/diab.16.4.252.
  15. Krebs H.A. The effects of ethanol on the metabolic activities of the liver. Adv. Enzyme Regul. 1968;6:467–480. doi: 10.1016/0065-2571(68)90029-0. 
  16. Kandi, S. , deshpande, N. , rao, P. , & Ramana, K. (2014). Alcoholism and Its Relation to Hypoglycemia – An Overview. American Journal of Medicine Studies, 2(3), 46-49.
  17. Vega-López S, Venn BJ, Slavin JL. Relevance of the Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load for Body Weight, Diabetes, and Cardiovascular Disease. Nutrients. 2018;10(10):1361. Published 2018 Sep 22. doi:10.3390/nu10101361
  18. Sikalidis A, Oztag M. Good Snacking Practice Is Positively Associated with Better T2DM Management in Turkish Patients (P18-044-19). Curr Dev Nutr. 2019;3(Suppl 1):nzz039.P18-044-19. Published 2019 Jun 13. doi:10.1093/cdn/nzz039.P18-044-19
  19. Altschuler JA, Casella SJ, MacKenzie TA, Curtis KM. The effect of cinnamon on A1C among adolescents with type 1 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2007;30:813–6.
  20. Vanschoonbeek K, Thomassen BL, Senden JM, Wodzig WK, van Loon LJ. Cinnamon supplementation does not improve glycemic control in postmenopausal type 2 diabetes patients. J Nutr. 2006;136:977–80.
  21. Solomon TP, Blannin AK. Changes in glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity following 2 weeks of daily cinnamon ingestion in healthy humans. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2009;105:969–76.
  22. Blevins SM, Leyva MJ, Brown J, Wright J, Scofield RH, Aston CE. Effect of cinnamon on glucose and lipid levels in non insulin-dependent type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2007;30:2236–7. 
  23. Hlebowicz J, Hlebowicz A, Lindstedt S, Björgell O, Höglund P, Holst JJ, et al. Effects of 1 and 3 g cinnamon on gastric emptying, satiety, and postprandial blood glucose, insulin, glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide, glucagon-like peptide 1, and ghrelin concentrations in healthy subjects. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;89:815–21
  24. Raghuram TC, Sharma RD, Sivakumar B, Sahay BK. Effect of fenugreek seeds on intravenous glucose disposition in non-insulin dependent diabetic patients. Phytotherapy Research. 1994;8:83–6.
  25. Sharma RD, Raghuram TC. Hypoglycaemic effect of fenugreek seeds in non-insulin dependent diabetic subjects. Nutr Res. 1990;10:731–9.
  26. Kochhar A, Nagi M. Effect of supplementation of traditional medicinal plants on blood glucose in non-insulin-dependent diabetics: a pilot study. J Med Food. 2005;8:545–9.
  27. Lu FR, Shen L, Qin Y, Gao L, Li H, Dai Y. Clinical observation on trigonella foenum-graecum L. total saponins in combination with sulfonylureas in the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Chin J Integr Med. 2008;14:56–60.
  28. Mathern JR, Raatz SK, Thomas W, Slavin JL. Effect of fenugreek fiber on satiety, blood glucose and insulin response and energy intake in obese subjects. Phytother Res. 2009;23:1543–8.
  29. Bordia A, Verma SK, Srivastava KC. Effect of ginger (Zingiber officinale Rosc.) and fenugreek (Trigonella foenumgraecum L) on blood lipids, blood sugar and platelet aggregation in patients with coronary artery disease. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 1997;56:379–84.
  30. Chevassus H, Gaillard JB, Farret A, Costa F, Gabillaud I, Mas E, et al. A fenugreek seed extract selectively reduces spontaneous fat intake in overweight subjects. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2010;66:449–55.
  31. Gupta A, Gupta R, Lal B. Effect of Trigonella foenum-graecum (fenugreek) seeds on glycaemic control and insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes mellitus: a double blind placebo controlled study. J Assoc Physicians India. 2001;49:1057–61.
  32. Kassaian N, Azadbakht L, Forghani B, Amini M. Effect of fenugreek seeds on blood glucose and lipid profiles in type 2 diabetic patients. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2009;79:34–39.
  33. Abdel-Barry JA, Abdel-Hassan IA, Jawad AM, Al-Hakiem MH. Hypoglycaemic effect of aqueous extract of the leaves of Trigonella foenum-graecum in healthy volunteers. East Mediterr Health J. 2000;6:83–8.

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field