Before we get into the hypoglycemia food list, let us learn a little more about this condition. Hypoglycemia is a metabolic disorder caused by a drop in blood glucose level to a point below the minimum necessary for proper brain function (about 80 mg/100 ml). Hypoglycemia symptoms include weakness, a feeling of hunger, nervousness, cold sweat, dizziness, palpitations, fainting, and if left untreated, even coma (hypoglycemic coma).
The most widespread cause of hypoglycemia is excess insulin due to:
- An elevated dose injected as an antidiabetic treatment
- An extreme increase in insulin secretion by the pancreas itself as it responds to a sudden rise in glycemia caused by sugar consumption
A balanced hypoglycemia diet plan with regular meal times and few sweets can help prevent hypoglycemia. However, in acute situations, it may be necessary to administer a certain amount of sweets or sugar to raise the blood glucose level. Drinking a cup of milk and consuming a slice or two of bread will release the glucose into the blood more slowly. If one is in a medical facility, they may be given an injection of glucagon to raise blood sugar. However, when a hypoglycemic attack occurs, it indicates poorly regulated diabetes.
Hypoglycemia comes on reasonably rapidly and may be due to too much exercise, skipping or delaying a meal, too much insulin, or too large a dose of hypoglycemic medications. Because of inadequate glucose in the blood, the body runs out of fuel or energy. Serious problems may occur if one is driving a car, working with heavy machinery, or swimming.
Other conditions that may predispose toward hypoglycemia include fasting, congestive heart failure, certain types of cancer, chronic kidney failure, excessive alcohol intake, high fevers, stomach surgery, and emotional problems. A physician should carefully evaluate everyone that develops hypoglycemia.
Hypoglycemia Food List
1. WHOLE GRAINS: These provide complex carbohydrates (starch), which slowly transform to glucose during digestion. The fiber in whole grain slows the digestion of these carbohydrates even more (from 4 to 5 hours). This helps maintain a constant blood glucose level and prevents the sharp increases and decreases typically of the sugars contained in refined products.
2. LEGUMES: In addition to proteins, legumes provide complex carbohydrates that release glucose slowly and steadily, without sharp variations in blood glucose level.
3. NUTS: Nuts provide energy primarily in the form of fats, mostly unsaturated, which are easily assimilated, and do not provoke variations in glycemic levels.
Foods to Avoid With Hypoglycemia
1. SUGARS: Sugars pass rapidly to the blood, increasing glucose level. In predisposed individuals, the pancreas responds to disproportionately, secreting too much insulin to metabolize this glucose. This then causes the glucose level to drop below normal, resulting in hypoglycemia. If one attempts to restore the glucose level by consuming more sweets, the same vicious cycle of sharp fluctuations in blood sugar level is repeated.
2. REFINED BAKED FOODS: Products made from refined flours and sugars are digested more quickly than whole grains and legumes and provoke a rapid rise in blood glucose level. In susceptible individuals, this initiates an exaggerated pancreatic response, which secretes excess insulin, causing hypoglycemia.
3. ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES: Alcohol alters pancreatic function in both its exocrine aspect (production of pancreatic juice for digestion) and its endocrine role (secretion of insulin). Because of this, it fosters inadequate insulin production with its consequent sharp oscillations in blood glucose level with episodes of hypoglycemia.
4. STIMULANT BEVERAGES: Stimulants fight the sense of fatigue experienced in hypoglycemia, but this is a subjective improvement, which is not accompanied by any energy-producing nutrients. Once the initial effect has passed, one experiences an even greater state of exhaustion.
Hardinge, Mervyn G and Harold Shryock. “Family Medical Guide.” Hardinge, Mervyn G and Harold Shryock. Family Medical Guide. Ed. Marvin Moore and Bonnie Tyson-Flynn. Vol. three. Oshawa; Washington, D.C.; Hagerstown: Pacific Press Publishing Association; Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1999. Three vols. 302. Print.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Foods and Their Healing Power.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Foods and Their Healing Power. Trans. Annette Melgosa. Vol. 2. Chai Wan: Editorial Safeliz, 2005. 287, 288. Print. [hypoglycemia food list]