|Posted on September 22, 2017 at 11:05 AM|
Are you diagnosed with hypoglycemia or diabetes, or at high risk of developing either disorder? If so, consider addressing your symptoms from a holistic viewpoint. You may or may not be surprised to hear that minimally altering your diet can have maximal effects on your health.
There are also lifestyle factors that can contribute to reducing symptoms associated with hypoglycemia and diabetes. These are outside the scope of this blog post, but you can learn more by contacting Harmony in Health.
I must emphasize, if you are currently taking medication for diabetes please do not stop doing so without consulting your physician. The guidelines outlined in this post can be undertaken while you continue taking medication.
First, let’s review what hypoglycemia and diabetes are.
What are hypoglycemia and diabetes?
Hypoglycemia occurs when the body cannot metabolize sugars correctly and blood sugar levels are too low (Murray 1994). Glucose (a form of sugar) is the brain’s primary source of fuel, so it is not surprising that the brain is one of the first areas you will see symptoms if your sugar levels are low. Symptoms include “depression, anxiety, irritability, blurred vision, excessive sweating, confusion, etc.” (Murray 1994).
Diabetes occurs when the body cannot metabolize carbohydrates, fats, and proteins correctly and blood sugar levels are too high after fasting (Murray 1994). There are two types of diabetes: Type I and Type II. Type I diabetes occurs when “the pancreas does not secrete enough insulin”, whereas Type II occurs when “the cells of the body become resistant to insulin” (Murray 1994). Symptoms of diabetes include “frequent urination and excessive thirst and appetite” (Murray 1994).
What does diet have to do with hypoglycemia and diabetes?
Today, most people consume what is known as the “Western diet”. We consume a lot of fat, refined sugar, and animal products, and very little dietary fiber. In case it isn’t obvious to you (though we hope it would be), this is not healthy! We’re taking in a lot of refined carbohydrates, which “are the most important contributing factor to diabetes and reactive hypoglycemia” (Murray 1994)!
Why is this the case? Let’s look at what happens when we eat refined carbohydrates.
When you eat refined sugar, it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, causing a spike in blood sugar. To combat this, the body tells the pancreas to secrete insulin. The insulin lowers blood sugar levels, often causing the symptoms of hypoglycemia listed above. In response to the dip in blood sugar, the body tells the adrenal glands to secrete epinephrine, which increases blood sugar. If this is happening repeatedly over time, the adrenal glands get tired, so to speak, and cannot muster up enough energy to respond. This lack of response is what leads to hypoglycemia – without the epinephrine to increase blood sugar, it remains low. If refined sugar/carbs continue to be eaten regularly, the body will become insensitive to insulin, or the pancreas will also become tired, and hypoglycemia turns into diabetes (Murray 1994).
By following the Western diet, you are literally eating yourself to a state of ill health. But, just as diet can contribute to the development of hypoglycemia and diabetes, so too can it contribute to symptom management.
What diet should you be following?
When it comes to hypoglycemia and diabetes, a diet known as the “high complex-carbohydrate, high-fiber diet, or HCF diet”, has proven most effective. This diet is “high in cereal grains, legumes, and root vegetables, and restricts simple sugar and fat intake” (Murray 1994).
This diet has proven to promote many positive changes in people with diabetes, including (Murray 1994):
- “Reduced abnormally high after-meal blood sugar
- Increased sensitivity of tissue to insulin
- Reduced low-density lipoproteins (LDLs), cholesterol that increases the risk of atherosclerosis – or the buildup of cholesterol-containing plaque in the arteries
- Increased high-density lipoproteins (HDLs), cholesterol that lowers the danger of atherosclerosis
- Reduced triglycerides (stored fat) and progressive weight reduction”
For more information on how to follow the HCF diet and still get an adequate intake of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, contact Harmony in Health today!
Michael T. Murray (1994): Diabetes and Hypoglycemia: Your Natural Guide to Healing with Diet, Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs, Exercise, and Other Natural Methods