Don’t believe hypoglycemia affects you? Think again…

Don’t believe hypoglycemia affects you? Think again…

According to leading experts some 80 million or more Americans have hypoglycemia and most don’t even know it!  Are you one of them? Let’s take a look at some of the symptoms of this most confusing, complicated and too often misdiagnosed condition.

Fatigue, insomnia, mental confusion, nervousness, mood swings, headaches, depression, phobias, heart palpitations, craving for sweets, cold hands and feet, forgetfulness, blurred vision, inner trembling, outbursts of temper, sudden hunger, allergies and crying spells.  

This list contains just a few…the entire list by Dr. Nancy Appleton, author of Suicide by Sugar; includes over 100 symptoms!

How about we look at this from another point of view?

You try to sleep but you’re restless all night long.  So when you finally do get up, you need at least three cups of coffee to function.  You struggle to get to work, already feeling tense because you’re late; and when you do arrive, you snap at your co-workers for some minor guidelines they forgot to follow. You reach for another cup of coffee both before noon and at 3 o’clock when you feel that afternoon slump  about to overcome you.

Or you got up late, too busy to eat breakfast, run off to your first meeting of the day.  Great, they’re serving coffee and donuts! Lunch, I’ll just have a yogurt with fruit…that should be healthy.

It’s five o’clock and you’re running to get the kids from school but your pounding headache makes it a difficult drive.  Then you’re too rush to cook a healthy dinner because you either have to run out for a late night meeting, your children have to do a school project and you still didn’t buy the necessary supplies needed. So dinner is a quick macaroni dish, chicken you picked up at Publix or as a last resort, canned soup and sandwiches.

Do you realize that though all this scenario, your blood sugar is going up and down like a yo, yo?

Your coffee, donuts, sugar laden yogurt, skipping meals and stress can lead to hypoglycemia symptoms that just keep getting worse if left untreated!

Do you believe that if you just make some small changes you can see a difference in your attitude, behavior and thinking process that can lead to better personal and professional relationship?

Here are some quick and easy changes to stabilize your blood sugar and avoid the highs and lows of hypoglycemia…a condition most of you don’t realize affects you on an everyday basis:

  1. Start and end the day with protein.  That means breakfast is a must, even if it is a good protein drink, hard boiled egg, apple slices with almond butter. Check out my list of suggested snacks on our ….If you have dinner early, make sure you have a protein snack an hour or so before going to bed. Otherwise you will be going 12 to 14 hours without food, a reason some find very difficult to get out of bed in the morning!
  2. If you have yogurt, make sure it is plain Greek yogurt and add your own fresh fruit and nuts.  Too many name brands are full of sugar which will drop your blood sugar in just a few hours leaving you fatigued and hungrier.
  3. Watch you consumption of orange juice…most believe it is the perfect drink of juice, especially since it is advertised as “natural!”  Each 8 ounce glass of orange juice e contains 8 teaspoons of sugar!!!
  4. Preparation is the key!  Make some meals ahead of time, preferable over the weekend. You can freeze some and serve them on a night when you have literally no time to cook.
  5. Always carry a protein snack with you, especially if you are driving.  Feel weak, it is easy to grab a few almonds or string cheese.
  6. If your place of work has coffee available just as soon as you arrive, ask to add herbal teas, nuts and allowable fruits.
  7. Exercising strenuously, especially without eating before or after, will definitely lower your blood sugar…sometimes to extreme.  Instead of worrying so much about how you look, listen to your body’s reaction. If symptoms persist, you may have to slow down your exercise program or change your routine entirely.   

The purpose for this particular blog is to let you know that how you think, feel and act can be a result of what you are or are not eating!  Before you take the pain pill for your headache, it could be from the three cups of coffee you had to start the day. The tranquilizer you feel you need for your anxiety could simply be that you skipped breakfast and lunch and your body is running without fuel…won’t and can’t function!  And finally the sleeping pill you crave at night could be that the candy, ice cream and soda you had before going to bed is keeping you wired and unable to have those forty winks your body needs, craves and deserves.

Please, take stock, evaluate your dietary habits, keep a diet/symptom diary and assess those foods and habits you think or know need adjusting. In doubt, reach out for more information or assistance.  You don’t have to do it alone!

Here’s to your health…make it count!


The Forgotten Blood Sugar Disorder: Hypoglycemia

The Forgotten Blood Sugar Disorder: Hypoglycemia

By Dr. Keith Berkowitz, M.D. Medical Director for The Center For Balanced Health and Medical Advisor for the Hypoglycemia Support Foundation

According to the American Diabetes Association, 21 million Americans have diabetes and another 54 million American are at risk with pre-diabetes or elevated blood glucose.

Because of this, our attention has been concentrated on treating high blood glucose while largely ignoring other blood sugar disorders. Poor eating habits, the addition of unhealthy ingredients, increased stress and poor sleeping habits has led to the increased incidence of this under-appreciated blood sugar disorder: hypoglycemia.

Hypoglycemia has been traditionally defined as a low blood glucose level (serum levels less than 70 mg/dl either taken fasting, randomly or after a glucose challenge). Unfortunately, most individuals I see in my practice do not present with these results but instead present with normal blood glucose levels, the ability to lose some weight but not the last 10 to 20 pounds or unexplained low energy levels.

One reason for this is that most individuals only have fasting blood glucose or an HgbA1c taken by their health professional. An HgbA1c level represents the average amount of glucose in the blood over a three month period. A level of 4.0% is equal to an average blood glucose level of 60 mg/dl while a level of 5.0% is equal to a blood glucose level of 90 mg/dl. HgbA1c levels between 4.8% and 5.9% are considered normal. Levels below 4.8% are usually consistent with hypoglycemia.

Individuals with hypoglycemia can often have symptoms that include: headaches, increased irritability, difficulty concentrating, palpitations, light-headedness, fatigue, anxiety, excessive sweating or urination, leg cramps, dizziness and clamminess. Other symptoms can be related to eating. Patients I see with this diagnosis often feel more tired after meals, feel “sick” when they either miss a meal or if a meal is delayed.

So, if you have significantly reduced calories or carbohydrates, are you still unable to lose weight?

Are you unable to lose that last 20 pounds no matter what you try?

Eating a low carbohydrate diet but still hungry and/or tired after meals?

I just may have a solution for you.

Traditionally treatment for hypoglycemia has been to give sugar. Unfortunately, this treatment only provides temporary relief and in very sensitive individuals causes an even greater reaction thirty minutes to two hours later. Although, a strict low carbohydrate diet is helpful, it does not always solve the problem by itself.

In my practice, the Center for Balanced Health, I see individuals with such pronounced hypoglycemia that their blood sugar drops almost immediately after a glucose challenge. It’s the equivalent of filling an automobile with gas only to find that the gas tank has a very large leak.

At the Center for Balanced Health, we help patients manage their hypoglycemia by telling them to:

  • Eat five to six small meals a day about every three hours. Think of yourself as a fuel-efficient automobile. You want constant flow of energy (glucose) throughout the day.
  • Avoid meals that are too small or too large especially at night. Meals that are too small will not provide enough energy to get you through the day. Meals that are too large place a larger burden on your metabolic system to process these nutrients and thus can trigger a hypoglycemic reaction.
  • DON’T skip meals especially breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it sets the tone.
  • Balanced eating. Always have some protein and fat at each meal or snack. Avoid and limit foods high in sugar or other refined carbohydrates especially on a empty stomach. Still utilize a controlled carbohydrate approach and get your carbohydrates from foods high in fiber (dark green leafy vegetables, non starchy vegetables, avocado, high fiber low carbohydrate crackers as examples)
  • Get a good night’s sleep. Good sleep helps replenish your system so that your body works more efficiently.
  • Use of a fiber supplement (make sure you take with enough water) or eating a high fiber food (without refined carbohydrates or sugar) before meals or snacks can help slow the absorption of carbohydrates and thus prevent rapid declines in blood sugar.
  • Exercise regularly. Strength training can improve glucose metabolism
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, tobacco use
  • Avoid the use of stimulants

If you suspect hypoglycemia, the best diagnostic test is a glucose tolerance test with insulin levels and an HgbA1c. I usually do this test in my office because a glucose challenge can sometimes precipitate symptoms of low blood sugar.