When Low Blood Sugar Attacks – Lithia Weight Loss Center
It might be safe to say that we all have experienced, at least a few times in our life, what it feels like to have low blood sugar. Or what many like to call getting hangry! If you’re nerdy about the body and it’s physiology like we are here at STRONGLIFE, this is called reactive hypoglycemia. Your body is reacting to its environment (what you ate), doing what it knows to do, but unfortunately causes our blood sugar to drop, drastically.
This can be pretty normal and non-concerning when it happens every once in a blue moon, however, it can be pretty telling of our health risks when it happens regularly! In fact, it’s a predictor of Type 2 Diabetes. Here I will dig into the physiology behind reactive hypoglycemia so you can get an understanding of what exactly is occurring in your body and the symptoms that arise because of it. Then, provide you some information on how to reduce the frequency of this happening and improve your overall health.
What IS reactive hypoglycemia, and what typically causes this to happen:
Normal blood sugar levels range from 70-100mg/dL. Reactive hypoglycemia is when those levels drop to less than 40-50 mg/dL, typically within 4 hours after a meal. That’s a pretty steep drop! What causes this to happen is a meal high in refined carbohydrates which causes a big spike in our insulin secretion, so we can utilize or store all that sugar we just consumed, but this also means that our cells are taking up that sugar, and not enough is maintained in our blood stream. Think – big surge, then a crash!
As you know, there is always a way that our body tries to compensate for these abnormal reactions and find solutions to keep us as healthy as possible. So, after the crash, our body triggers our adrenal glands to release adrenaline (aka epinephrine) and cortisol. Think – fight or flight. In moments of danger, we need energy to either fight, or run as fast as we can to get away. Adrenaline and cortisol initiate processes to increase our glucose levels so we are able to do just that! But in this instance with reactive hypoglycemia, there is no danger. It’s caused by our eating habits. These two hormones, doing their part, are actually what cause many of the symptoms related to reactive hypoglycemia, which I’ll mention in the next section.
With blood sugar variability occurring regularly in this way, big surge, steep crashes, this can initiate the development of insulin resistance over time, increasing chronic inflammation, and leading down the road to Type 2 Diabetes. Especially if compounded with a family history and/or pre-existing risk factors. Great news about this though, YOU have all the control with reactive hypoglycemia and can really turn your own health around to live life optimally!
Common symptoms you may feel:
- Feeling shaky or jittery
- Excessive hunger – almost ravenous feeling
- Anxiousness or rapid heartbeat all of a sudden
- Sweating when you are not being physically active
- Blurry vision
- Headache and/or irritability
How to Regulate Your Blood Sugar
- Include more low glycemic foods that don’t have as much of an influence over your insulin secretion and blood sugar – non-starchy veggies such as leafy greens, cucumbers, brussels sprouts, broccoli, stone fruits such as peaches, nectarines, plums.
- Be sure to include proteins and fats in your meals and snacks – for example, don’t have just carrots, carrots & hummus. If you have a meal such as chicken and salad, be sure to include some high-quality fats like olive oil, walnut oil, avocado, or nuts, instead of croutons.
- Reduce refined carbohydrates – cereals, white breads, crackers, pasta, soda, pastries, etc.
- Reduce consumption of caffeine (or be mindful of how much and when as caffeine can exacerbate low blood sugar and increase your cortisol even more.)
- Reduce alcohol – alcohol can disrupt gluconeogenesis, which is your body’s ability to produce sugar, and bring your blood sugar back to normal.
- Certain nutritional supplements can help this process of reducing the variability in your blood sugar levels – chromium, magnesium, L-carnitine. (But should always be prescribed specific to you, which we can do here at STRONGLIFE!)
At STRONGLIFE Weight Loss in Lithia, FL, we can help you address any underlying issues, whether you realize they’re there or not, and improve your overall health.
We hope that you found this as valuable as my patients have over the years. If you’re interested in a patient-centered process that takes into account all aspects that affect your health, then we would encourage to visit our website at www.stronglifeweightloss.com.