Hypoglycemia Diets (Low Blood Sugar Diets)
Correcting low blood sugar or hypoglycemia requires four crucial elements. Low blood sugar diets are only one of these main components. All four are important:
- In consultation with your health professional advisor choose one from among the several different available hypoglycemia diets. Making this choice correctly is a major focus of our office consultations.
- Select nutritional supplements to increase the effectiveness of your low blood sugar diet.
- Identify and treat physical and psychological illness that bring out or worsen vulnerability to hypoglycemia. Such accompanying health issues are almost always also present.
- Provide holistic support for your body’s natural healing systems, thereby
reducing low blood sugar reactivity. The most important of these strategies:
- Relaxation Skills
- Training To Reduce the Effects of Stress
- Retraining distressed breathing
- Just The Right Amount of Exercise
- Better Sleep
Low Blood Sugar Diets, Hypoglycemia Diets
There are two main, different types of low blood sugar diets:
- Low carbohydrate hypoglycemia diets, which reduce all forms of carbohydrates, thereby increasing protein and fat.
- High carbohydrate low blood sugar diets, which reduce intake of simple sugars, breads, and all processed grains. In contrast, they expand emphasis on vegetables, fruits, berries and whole grains.
Despite their key differences, both of these low blood sugar hypoglycemia diets have important factors in common:
- These hypoglycemia diets all recommend eating smaller but more frequent meals, with between meal snacks.
- All low blood sugar diets reduce intake of sugars of all kinds (including molasses and honey) and as important, simple, processed carbohydrates e.g most breads, cereals, potatoes, and rice. The reason for reducing these frequently eaten foods: the digestive system converts most processed carbohydrates rapidly into sugar. Thus, for hypoglycemia diets, whole wheat bread is just as bad as white bread.
- Reducing or eliminating caffeine is an effective aide to any hypoglycemia diet. (But taper off slowly since caffeine withdrawal symptoms can be fierce).
- Reducing alcohol is also important for low blood sugar diets (but taper off in steps if you drink a lot, since alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be very dangerous).
- Adding a small amount of protein or a modest amount of fat along with each
carbohydrate serving helps most hypoglycemia diets. This slows the rate of
food passing through the stomach.
With slower passage through the stomach, blood sugar increases less rapidly after eating. The less rapid rise in blood sugar, reduces the insulin response. Less insulin means that blood sugar falls more slowly. Blood sugar falling slowly, makes the destructive over-reaction of adrenalin and cortisol less necessary to prevent sugar from falling too low. With adrenalin and cortisol under control, hypoglycemia symptoms resolve.
- Olive oil is particularly effective for low blood sugar diets, because of
its exceptionally high ability to slow the stomach down. A giant benefit, for
relatively few calories.
Add one to three teaspoons of olive oil to each meal to strengthen your low blood sugar diet. Spread the olive oil on your food or take it straight from the teaspoon. Once the low blood sugar diets are working well, you can cut back on your olive oil dose.
Which of the low blood sugar diets are best for your individual needs? Each version of the hypoglycemia diet has its pros and cons. When we see patients in the office, we helping you select which diet is best for your individual needs.
Surprisingly we find that for about 80% of our patients with hypoglycemia the best hypoglycemia diets are those that are relatively high in total carbohydrates, but very low in sugar and most grains. Instead take your carbs almost all from colored fruits, vegetables, berries, and selected, coarse whole grains. Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, has endorsed this eating style, as probably the healthiest nutrition for most of us whether or not we need a hypoglycemia diet.
Dr. Willett’s research has completely revised the traditional food pyramid. Instead of breads and grains forming the broad base with fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds an afterthought, the new, modern pyramid creates a much larger space at the base for these highly nutritious, whole foods. However, despite the increasing recognition of this Mediterranean Style approach to eating, in our office we still find that about 20% of people continue to do better on an overall low carbohydrate much as older generation nutritionists advocated including Robert Atkins, M.D., and Carlton Fredericks, Ph.D.
Select Nutritional Supplements Increase the Benefit from Hypoglycemia Diets
Nutritional supplements that complement hypoglycemia diets: Start with a broad based multi-vitamin. If your hypoglycemia diet contains enough colored fruits, vegetables and berries, you might not need much more in the way of supplements. However, often we find the following additional nutrients are useful:
- Chromium 50-200 ugms a day
- Fish oil (omega-3) 1 to 3 grams a day
- Magnesium: 200-500 mg a day (start low and build up; watch out for diarrhea)
- Selenium 200 ugms daily
- N-Acetyl Cysteine 300-600 mg daily (a precursor of the antioxidant and detoxifying factor: glutathione)
Strengthen your low blood sugar diets by identifying and treating the common physical and psychological conditions that bring out or worsen hypoglycemia diet vulnerability
The search for physical and mental stressors is a critical part of our office evaluation. Often, these are the factors that stress the blood sugar/insulin/adrenal axis, which is what makes us vulnerable to hypoglycemia in the first place. This feeds then into a vicious cycle. The worse you feel, the worse your hypoglycemia, the worse your hypoglycemia, the worse you feel, etc.
So, it’s important to identify and treat any physical dysfunction including low thyroid, unidentified infection, digestive disorders. Similarly, if you tend to feel stressed or depressed, these mental stressors also bring out hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia, in turn, make psychological symptoms worse. Again, a vicious cycle. A hypoglycemia diet and treating the physical and mental stressors, is how you achieve the very best result.
Provide Holistic Support For Your Body’s Natural Healing Systems
When we see patients in the office we systematically review the function of each of the body’s major physiological systems, identify sub-par function and take steps to correct them. Again, a low blood sugar diet, plus holistic support is much more effective than a hypoglycemia diet alone. Among the most important systems to look at:
- Gastroenterology (G.I.) Function including digestion, absorption, balance of bacterial flora, yeast, food allergies, etc.
- Liver Detoxification Systems: How the body processes and eliminates both foreign chemicals and metabolic waste products
- The rhythm of breathing and breathing’s intimate relationship to the brain’s relaxation response
- The Immune System, and the immune system’s relationship to both the brain and the gut
- Biomechanics, the muscle-skeletal system’s stresses and strains
- Restorative Sleep
- Hormonal Balance: thyroid, adrenal, sex hormones and others
- Exercise “not too much or too little” - the Goldilocks Principle