Hypoglycemia Diet is the special diet that is developed for those individuals whose blood glucose levels are below normal. A person’s blood sugar must be less than 70 mg/dl in order to be classified as ‘hypoglycemic’. There is a complex natural process that the human body has in place, in order to regulate blood glucose levels. The adrenaline hormone, released by adrenal glands, situated just above the kidneys is largely responsible for this hypoglycemic response. Sudden adrenaline release into the blood stream leads to common symptoms associated with hypoglycemia - dizziness, excessive sweating, anxiety, rapid heartbeat etc. Hypoglycemia may occur due to certain liver disorders or because of specific tumours. These conditions are responsible for what is known as Organic hypoglycemia. Reactive hypoglycemia is a condition in which even slightly high levels of blood sugar (eg through high sugar intake) sets the regulatory process into action, resulting in a fall in blood sugar level below normal. In either case, the best way to manage the condition is to control the entry of glucose into the bloodstream at a steady slow and even pace for the body to be able to maintain equilibrium.
Features of Hypoglycemia Diet
- Simple Carbohydrates commonly known as simple sugars are most rapidly released into the blood stream, owing to their uncomplicated structure. Honey, corn syrup, fruits, milk and normal table sugar are simple carbohydrates that undergo rapid digestion and release sugar into the bloodstream very quickly after consumption. Therefore meals that have a high percentage of simple carbohydrates can lead to reactive hypoglycemia. High sugar foods like cakes, pastries, candies, ice-creams must be avoided in the Hypoglycemic Diet.
- Complex carbohydrates take longer to disintegrate in the intestine, thus resulting in more stable and gradual rise in blood glucose level. Whole grain cereals, pasta, whole wheat bread, potatoes etc., have complex carbohydrates and are hence more acceptable in the Hypoglycemia Diet.
- Proteins are required by the body for growth and tissue maintenance. Like complex carbohydrates, they are converted into glucose by the body at a very slow pace. Hence intake of protein rich foods like lean meat, fish, poultry and egg whites proves to be beneficial.
- Since a low-fat diet has been reported to help in treatment of hypoglycemia, use of cream, butter, full-cream milk should be avoided. Amount of oil used in cooking should be minimal.
- High fiber intake delays gastric emptying, which in turn slows down the digestion and subsequent absorption of glucose. Thus consumption of whole fruit such as an orange is preferred over consumption of fruit juice which is stripped off its fibre.
- Alcohol consumption should be avoided as it is capable of causing hypoglycemia independent of other factors.
- Caffeine is known to stimulate adrenaline production and therefore needs to be avoided.
Benefits of Hypoglycemia Diet
- Following the dietary guidelines for Hypoglycemia Diet allows an individual to maintain more stable blood sugar levels.
- This diet can assist in weight loss which has a positive impact on blood glucose control.
- Appropriate selection of foods high in complex carbohydrates, fiber and proteins can help maintain steady blood sugar levels.
- Daily food intake must be divided into 5-6 small, well balanced meals to ensure optimal blood sugar levels and prevent unnecessary peaking.
Easy Hypoglycemic Diet
It is believed that the hypoglycemic diet should ideally be the ‘Natural Diet’ that our bodies are most adept to obtaining nutrition from. The easiest nutritional treatment of the hypoglycemic condition includes –
- A high protein-complex carbohydrate meal to prevent the hypoglycemic dip. For instance a high protein breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day. This could be a combination of egg whites and toasted whole wheat bread slices with a herbed yoghurt dip.
- Intake of plenty of green leafy vegetables and adequate amounts of fruits high in fibre like apples, guavas, papaya, watermelon, pineapple etc.
- Variations must be introduced into the diet for better results.
- An Easy Hypoglycemic diet can include supplementation of the diet with multi-vitamin, multi-mineral nutrients. B-complex vitamins, calcium, Zinc, Iron, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, E and omega-3-fatty acids supplements can be added.
- Certain other dietary supplements that could cause a slowdown in the absorption of glucose (thus avoiding release of stress hormones and peaking of blood sugar) include Psyllium husk, Fenugreek seeds, Grapefruit and Cinnamon. Documented evidence shows how these and other natural herbs have a beneficial effect in hypoglycemic conditions.
Sample Menu Plan for Hypoglycemic Diet
- Breakfast : Boiled or scrambled egg whites with wheat bread toast + lemon tea
- Midmorning: An apple/orange or a glass of vegetable juice
- Lunch or Dinner : Grilled fish or chicken + brown rice + boiled vegetables
Or Spinach soup + lentils/beans + tomato, carrot, bell pepper, celery salad
And Yoghurt with blended fresh fruit (strawberries/kiwi)
The easy hypoglycemic diet cannot be considered a ‘quick-fix’. It takes some time for the body to adapt to an altered nutritional lifestyle. Adequate time is essential to absorb and metabolize essential nutrients in order for them to be transformed into enzymes, coenzymes, neurotransmitters, and neuro-receptors for timely adrenaline release.