THE MEANING OF LOW BLOOD SUGAR
HYPOGLYCAEMIA is the formal name for low blood sugar. Hypo is the greek word for low and glycaemia means sugar or glucose. Low blood sugar is the body chemistry condition where the amount of glucose in the blood is below the amount needed for the cells of your body to function properly.
WHAT IS BLOOD SUGAR AND WHY DO WE NEED IT?
Glucose (blood sugar) is the fuel the cells of your body use for energy /heat and is needed for the nervous system to function efficiently.. Glucose is used by every cell in the body. The cells in the brain and retina of the eyes use glucose for fuel, though other cells are able to use fats or amino acids(proteins) if necessary
WHERE DO WE GET GLUCOSE FROM?
The best source of glucose is carbohydrate foods. These are vegetables, fruits, seeds, grains and beans.
SYMPTOMS OF LOW BLOOD SUGAR
Symptoms occur when your blood sugar is too low and certain cells in the body are not receiving enough energy from glucose to function properly. Usually the first areas to be affected are your central nervous system and eyes because they use only glucose for energy. This is why people with low blood sugar (hypoglycaemics) experience blurred vision, double vision, irritability, nervousness, anxiety, fatigue and dizziness
Everyone has a few of these symptoms occasionally, this is usually due to transient hypoglycaemia, which is defined as a temporary or passing drop in blood sugar levels, and this is soon rectified by the body’s own sugar regulation mechanism. Once a balance is achieved, the symptoms usually disappear. If, however, there is a real long term imbalance in the sugar regulation the symptoms may well disappear or change, but will always return unless the imbalance is corrected.
If you have some of these symptoms frequently or always you can suspect that you have low blood sugar.
Headaches Anxiety Mood swings
Fatigue Bladder frequency/Urgency Cravings
Irritability Poor concentration Weight problems
Crying spells Numbness Tingling/numbness in feet
Blurred/double vision Muscle stiffness Indecisivness
Light or noise sensitivity Mental confusion Temper outbursts
PMS Cold hands and feet
THE LINK BETWEEN LOW BLOOD SUGAR AND M.S.
Not many people have linked M.S. with low blood sugar and are not aware of the influence of blood sugar changes on muscle and nerve tissue. Muscle weakness, poor co-ordination, cold hands and feet, pins and needles and general fatigue are common M.S. symptoms and are ALSO symptoms of hypoglycaemia
Research has shown that there is a link between M.S. and gluten intolerance. This has been supported by patients with M.S. who have followed a gluten free diet (wheat free). However, this type of diet produces a temporary rebalancing of a low blood sugar situation and , if this is the case, it is not the gluten alone that contributes to the symptoms but all forms of cereal and carbohydrate.
Many people with M.S. are sensitive to sugar and cereal grains and obtain a measure of symptom relief on a standard hypoglycaemic diet.
CHANGES IN PERSONALITY
The personality of a person with low blood sugar can change
So rapidly that they can become a different person . In my practise I have found that the majority of people with stress can also have physical symptoms which often come before emotional changes. I.e. tiredness can come before depression; headaches, palpatations and dizziness can come before anxiety; agraphobia can be preceeded by panic; suicidal tendencies preceeded by menstrual disorders and exhaustion.
In hypoglycaemia the nervous system is deprived of essential fuel (glucose) and the brain is subsequently affected. Changes in mood, depression, anxiety, irritability, poor concentration, feelings of panic – these may be due to low blood sugar
THESE ARE COMMON PROBLEMS OF HYPOGLYCAEMICS
IN THE HOME - child or spouse abuse, divorce or separation
EMPLOYMENT – Lateness, absenteeism, arguments, low and /or poor productivity and creativity
CHILDREN - Learning difficulties, behaviour problems, juvenile delinqency and crime
ALCOHOL OR DRUG ABUSE – Many studies reveal the the majority of alcoholics and drug abusers have hypoglycaemia. You would be amazed at the amount of coffee, cigarettes and pastry consumed at an Alcholics Anonymous Meeting. Some former drug addicts use sweets to relieve their desire for drugs.
HYPOGLYCAEMIA, DIABETES AND M.S.
It has been said that the hypoglycaemic person of today is the diabetoc of tomorrow. In this case we are talking about totally opposite conditions. Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) is a condition of the over reaction of insulin production causing low blood sugar. When a hypoglycaenic person gets older the pancreas becomes overworked and eventually gives up and becomes exhausted, the production of insulin becomes insufficient therefore leading to diabetes.
However, the diets of hypoglycaemics and diabetics are remarkably similar. The low blood sugar patient avoids sugar to allow the pancreas to reduce and normalise insulin output, while the diabetic needs to avoid sugar because his body does not produce enough insulin to convert, transport and utilize the sugar. In many glandular imbalances whether affecting thyroid, pituitary or adrenal glands, the line between overactivity and underactivity may be very finely drawn, as an imbalance can occur either way, but in the early stages the problem can be reversed if correct treatment is applied.
In my practice I have seen many people with M.S. who have low blood sugar and have been completely unaware of their problem and have put many of their symptoms down the a diagnosis of M.S.
HOW TO DETERMINE IF YOU HAVE HYPOGLYCAEMIA
HOW One of the chief characteristics of low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) is the combination of physical and mental symptoms together with a huge variation of symptoms. People may feel on top of the world at times and then at other times may feel exhausted and depressed for no apparent reason. Hypoglycaemia is not an organic disease it is an imbalance in the nervous, circulatory, digestive and endocrine systems. Therefore, any symptoms are the expression of a number of interrelating and fluctuating factors. These factors are influenced by diet, emotion,menstruation, time of the day, stress and fatigue.
There is not a scientific method to determine if you have hypoglycaemia but using the following methods will give you a fairly definite conclusion:
Assess symptoms (if you have some of these symptoms frequently or always suspect hypoglycaemia)
Follow a low blood sugar diet programme and see if you improve.
Glucose Tolerance Test: This is a blood test and must be done under medical supervision.
This test is sufficient for a diagnosis of diabetes but it ,may be insufficient as a means of establishing reactive hypoglycaemia.
DIETARY AND LIEESTYLE APPLICATIONS
Eat smaller more frequent meals throughout the day, this alleviates adrenal and pancreas stress by maintaining blood glucose levels.
Always eat breakfast . Breakfast is meant to ‘break the fast’ and stabilize blood sugar.
Remove all refined sugar, processed foods, hydrogenated fats, caffeine and alcohol from the diet. Eat wholegrains, seed, nuts, lean meat and fish. High fibre diets help to stabilise blood sugar and should be combined with small protein snacks.
Sugar, chocolate, and sweets such as cake, pies, pastries, custards, ice-cream,salted nuts and all cereal products; diabetic foods, syrup, molasses
sugar and honey. Avoid ordinary coffee, tea, alcohol,soft drinks, caffeine, tobacco, potatoes, rice, grapes, raisins, plums, figs, dates, bananas, spaghetti, macaroni, and noodles. THESE DIETS SHOULD ONLY BE USED UNDER THE DIRECT SUPERVISION OF A PRACTITIONER.
Avoid alcohol and any food allergens
Regular exercise is helpful to stabilize blood sugar levels.
Snack ideas: 1-2 tablespoons protein powder in vegetable juice; raw,unsalted seeds or nuts; a piece of organic cheese or alternate type of chees (soy or almond cheese); almond or soy milk; Steamed vegetables with a protein source (chicken, turkey or hard boiled egg)
Avoid stress and practice relaxation
B Vitamins – important in carbohydrate metabolism
Chromium – essential in glucose metabolism
Zinc – a component of many of the enzymes which regulate energy production from glucose – it is also important in normal insulin function
Pancreatic/digestive enzymes – needed to support the pancreas and break down food.
Calcium and magnesium
The diagnosis and treatment of Low blood sugar (Hypoglycaemia) is not a simple matter but in my clinic low blood sugar problems are very common - not just with people with M.S. and my advise is to consult a medical or non medical practitioner as this treatment needs monitoring as no two people are alike. Many people miss the energy provided by the previous high sugar diet and reassurance and guidance is often needed.
Pamela was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis three years ago. Her symptoms were blurred vision, fatigue, weakness and pins and needles in one hand with an arm that felt heavy. She had on occasions experienced some bladder urgency but nothing that she couldn’t cope with. Pamela had also suffered with PMT for many years especially since the birth of her last child.
A hair mineral analysis showed that she was deficient in magnesium and zinc also low levels of chromium and potassium. The vega test showed that her pancreas was slightly underfunctioning and that she was intolerant to yeast.
Pamela had quite a good diet but mentioned that she smokes 2-3 cigaretts a day and had taken marjuana. She drank tea and coffe with sugar and also drank diet drinks.
Pamela was placed on a hypoglycaemic diet. A multivitamin and mineral programme , B complex, Evening primrose oil and B.12 lozenges.and chromium.
A physical therapy programme was advised to mobilize her neck and spine..
After two months Pamela began to feel slightly better , the pins and needles had gone and her bladder was much improved. This case demonstrates the ‘whole body approach’ to M.S.