Glucose is the body’s main source of energy. It is absorbed by the body cells with the aid of insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas. Hypoglycemia occurs when the blood glucose level falls below the normal level.
Hypoglycemia usually occurs in diabetics on insulin medication. When we consume excess carbohydrates, greater than the amount needed by the body to sustain its activities, the extra glucose is converted into glycogen and stored in the liver and muscles. In healthy humans, when the blood glucose level falls for some reason such as during a fast, glucagon, a hormone secreted by the pancreas, triggers break down of glycogen into glucose.
However, in diabetics this natural process of conversion of glycogen into glucose is impaired due to reduced sensitivity to glucagon. Nonetheless, epinephrine or adrenaline, a hormone produced by the adrenalin glands might boost the blood glucose level naturally. But insulin medications, taken to increase the insulin level, obstruct the upward movement of the blood glucose level, leading to hypoglycemia.
Hypoglycemia occurs suddenly. Mild to moderate hypoglycemia could be instantly treated by consuming a glucose rich food or drink. Hypoglycemia could be fatal if it is left untreated for a long time.Hypoglycemia could be prevented by modifying the diet. People who have a risk of developing hypoglycemia should avoid simple carbohydrates.
Foods high in simple carbohydrates and concentrated sweets such as table sugar, candy, ice cream, cake, cookies and carbonated drinks are rapidly digested and absorbed in the bloodstream. They increase the risk of reactive hypoglycemia. Risk of hypoglycemia could be reduced by replacing simple carbohydrates with complex carbohydrates.
Along with complex carbohydrates, the hypoglycemia diet should contain adequate proteins, especially from animal sources. Proteins are slowly digested by the body. This source of energy could fuel the body without causing abnormal fluctuations in the blood glucose levels.
Fiber rich foods should be included in the diet for hypoglycemia. Instead of consuming fruit juices, you should consume whole fruits. Wheat bran, oats, legumes, whole grains and leafy vegetables are rich sources of fiber.
Three balanced meals along with three nutritious snacks in between the meals could lower the risk of hypoglycemia. Alcohol could trigger hypoglycemia. Alcoholic drinks should be avoided by people susceptible to hypoglycemia.