When treating hypoglycemia, reestablishing glucose (blood sugar) levels is essential. Hypoglycemia is not a disease (like diabetes), but people with hypoglycemia should follow a diet similar to a diet people use to control diabetes.
Diet for Hypoglycemia
People suffering from hypoglycemia should avoid or limit simple carbohydrates (sugars). Simple carbohydrates are absorbed into the bloodstream quickly, causing blood sugar levels to rise rapidly and go out of control. This leads to hypoglycemia.
Fructose (a natural sugar) found in fruits and vegetables do not absorb as quickly as other simple carbohydrates. Most individuals with hypoglycemia (and diabetes) can tolerate moderate amounts of this natural (unrefined) sugar.
Some complex carbohydrates (such as starches found in corn and potatoes) have been shown to be absorbed by the body quickly, similar to simple carbohydrates.
The glycemic index (GI), developed in 1981, expresses how quickly blood glucose levels rise after ingesting a certain food containing carbohydrates. Foods with lower values should be chosen.
• Foods with a GI of 10-39 are absorbed slowly. This group of foods includes raw and dried apples, dried apricots, fresh pears, fresh cherries, raw grapefruit, raw and cooked carrots, roasted peanuts, soybeans, black beans, butter beans, red lentils, rice bran, and yogurt (plain, nonfat, and unsweetened).
• Foods with a GI of 40-69 are absorbed more quickly. This group of foods includes honey, unsweetened apple, grapefruit, and pineapple juices, raisins, cantaloupe, beets, corn, sweet potato, green peas, pinto beans, blackeyed peas, old-fashioned oatmeal (cooked), brown rice, and whole wheat bread.
• Foods with a GI of 70-100 are absorbed rapidly. This group of foods includes dried dates, watermelon, pumpkin, boiled parsnips, rutabaga, baked white potato (with skin), red-skinned potato (peeled), white rice, rye bread, and white bread.
Simple carbohydrates: Glucose has a GI of 100, sucrose has a GI of 60, and fructose has a GI of 20.
Not all foods with a low GI are good sources of food in a diet for hypoglycemia. For example, sausage (GI=28) is high in saturated fats which can impair glucose tolerance.
If eating foods with a moderate to high GI, other nutrients (protein and healthy fats) should be included to help slow the absorption of carbohydrates.
Population and clinical studies show that hypoglycemia is clearly related to insufficient amounts of dietary fiber in the diet.
Water-soluble forms of fiber have the most beneficial effects on controlling blood sugar. They help slow down the digestion and absorption of other carbohydrates. Foods containing good amounts of water-soluble fiber include legumes, nuts, seeds, oat bran, apples, pears, and most vegetables.
More Information on Diet for Hypoglycemia:
Chromium is vital in controlling blood sugar levels properly. A deficiency in chromium can be a contributing factor to hypoglycemia (diabetes and obesity).
Many other nutrients are important for proper carbohydrate metabolism. Eat a healthy diet. Avoid processed foods.
Alcohol causes blood sugar levels to drop and should be avoided.
Eating small, frequent meals can be effective when treating hypoglycemia.
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