Best Foods For Low Blood Sugar
For patients with diabetes, monitoring blood sugar levels is a part of daily life.
Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, can occur for many people with diabetes who are on certain medications, including insulin. It can occur for a variety of reasons including skipping a meal, exercising strenuously, taking too much insulin or consuming alcohol, especially on an empty stomach.
Low blood sugar can be as minor as a slight inconvenience or as serious as a life-threatening emergency. Thats why it is important to boost blood sugar before it becomes problematic.
Angela Norton, a diabetes educator at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, has diabetes herself, so she knows firsthand the tips and tricks of keeping blood sugar on track. Although blood glucose is considered normal if above 70 mg/dL, Norton says patients with diabetes should not wait until they reach below that threshold to take action.
Treat when you feel the symptoms, even if your blood sugar is not below 70, because as long as it is less than 100, it may be dropping fast, she says.
When it comes to treatment, Norton shares these five foods to help boost low blood sugar.
1. CandyWhen hypoglycemia occurs, patients should follow the 15-15 rule. Consume 15 grams of carbohydrates to raise blood glucose and check your levels again after 15 minutes. When the numbers return to normal, eat a snack to stay on track.
Gummy candies contain carbohydrates, which have a large impact on blood sugar levels.
Preventing Low Blood Sugar Levels
Here are some other tips to help you avoid low blood sugar levels:
- Eat all your meals and snacks on time and try not to skip any.
- Take the right amount of insulin.
- If you exercise longer or harder than usual, have an extra snack.
- Don’t take a hot bath or shower right after an insulin shot.
- Stick to your diabetes management plan.
- Check your blood sugar levels regularly, so you can tell if your blood sugars are running too low and your treatment plan needs adjustment.
- Carry something containing sugar with you at all times and take it right away if you have symptoms. Don’t wait to see if the symptoms will go away they may get worse!
Alcohol and drugs can cause major problems with your blood sugar levels, so avoiding them is another way to prevent diabetes problems. Drinking can be particularly dangerous even deadly for people with diabetes because it messes up the body’s ability to keep blood glucose in a normal range. This can cause a very rapid drop in blood glucose in people with diabetes. Drug or alcohol use is also dangerous because it may affect someone’s ability to sense low blood sugar levels.
Learning how to recognize the signs of low blood sugar levels and get them back to normal is an important part of caring for diabetes. Keeping track of your blood sugar levels and recording lows when they occur will help you and your diabetes health care team keep your blood sugar levels in a healthy range.
Understanding Your Blood Sugar
The best way to understand how your blood sugar changes day-to-day is to regularly use a blood glucose meter to check your blood sugar level. If youre newly diagnosed, its also helpful to keep a food journal in addition to a blood sugar log, as well as tracking any physical activity.
Your blood sugar patterns are unique to you. Over time youll have a better understanding of which foods raise your blood sugars the most, as well as how your blood sugar responds to different types of exercise.
Some people with diabetes choose to use a continuous glucose monitor to monitor their blood sugar trends.
A continuous glucose monitor is a device with a sensor worn under the skin which measures blood sugar levels every 5-15 minutes. This is useful for identifying trends in blood sugar levels and can help predict and identify hypoglycemia sooner.
Using a CGM can reduce the amount of finger prick glucose tests needed each day, which is an added benefit.
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Prevention Of Low Blood Sugar
Do not skip or delay meals. If your diet plan includes snacks, make sure to take these.
Measure insulin dosage carefully and inject it properly. If you cannot see well, a family member or a visiting nurse can prepare your insulin injections for you.
Take only the prescribed amount of insulin or oral medication for diabetes that your doctor has ordered.
Keep exercise consistent from day to day. Eat a snack or reduce your insulin prior to unusual exercise.
If you are taking insulin, notify your doctor if you have low blood sugars four or more times per week or if you have a severe low blood sugar. Severe low blood sugars are those less than 40 mg., those requiring help from another person, or those which cause you to have a convulsion or become unconscious.
If you are taking oral medication for your diabetes notify your doctor or nurse if blood sugars are running less than 80 mg. or if you have a severe low blood sugar.
How Can I Prevent Low Blood Sugar
Your best bet is to practice good diabetes management and learn to detect hypoglycemia so you can treat it earlybefore it gets worse.
Monitoring blood sugar, with either a meter or a CGM, is the tried and true method for preventing hypoglycemia. Studies consistently show that the more a person checks blood sugar, the lower his or her risk of hypoglycemia. This is because you can see when blood sugar levels are dropping and can treat it before it gets too low.
If you can, check often!
- Check before and after meals.
- Check before and after exercise .
- Check before bed.
- After intense exercise, also check in the middle of the night.
- Check more if things around you change such as, a new insulin routine, a different work schedule, an increase in physical activity, or travel across time zones.
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What Symptoms To Watch For
There are several common symptoms associated with low blood sugar. These symptoms arise due to the adrenal glands releasing both epinephrine and cortisol in response to hypoglycemia.
However, not everyone will experience all of these symptoms, and low blood sugar reactions can change. If you suspect you have low blood sugar, the best thing to do is check your blood sugar to confirm.
People who have had diabetes for a long time or who have experienced hypoglycemia frequently may develop hypoglycemia unawareness.
Hypoglycemia unawareness is a diabetes complication where people dont experience the usual warning signs of low blood sugar before it occurs. Up to 40% of people with type 1 diabetes experience hypoglycemia unawareness.
Enjoy A Square Of Diabetes
Sugar should be limited when you have diabetes, so it may sound surprising to learn that dark chocolate can be part of a diabetes-friendly diet. But consider this: A review published in August 2011 in the journal BMJ looked at studies involving more than 114,000 people and found that those who ate the most chocolate had a 31 percent lower risk for diabetes and a significantly reduced risk for heart disease and stroke compared with people who ate the least. And a study published in February 2014 in the Journal of Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders found that having about 10 g of flavonoid-rich cacao a day could lower LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels in people with diabetes.
Look for dark chocolate with more than 70 percent cacao. But because chocolate also contains fat and sugar, limit yourself to one small square a day, Smithson cautions.
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Avocados Are Great For Controlling Blood Sugar
Similar to almonds, avocados are rich in blood sugar stabilizing monounsaturated fatty acids. One cup of avocado has 21 grams of fat, 14 of which are healthy monounsaturated fat, 12 grams of carbohydrates, and a small amount of protein . The fat in avocados is digested gradually and does not cause a rapid rise in blood sugar. You can eat a large serving of avocados and you won’t have to worry about it spiking your blood sugar. Also a compound called beta-sitosterol in avocados is effective at reducing inflammation after working out, and lower inflammation levels are associated with lower insulin resistance. Avocado oil is also a great alternative to processed salad dressings for people who are concerned about their blood sugar levels, and you can come up with your own healthy salad dressings by adding natural herbs and spices to the oil.
High Blood Sugar Causes
Sometimes the cause of a blood sugar spike is clear . But other times, the cause is a little more mysterious.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, losing sleep, skipping breakfast, not drinking enough water, or drinking coffee can cause blood sugar instability.
Even weirder, sometimes a sunburn can cause a spike! The pain of a burn causes stress, and high levels of stress can mess up your blood sugar. So bust out the sunscreen for the sake of your pancreas!
Other causes include eating high-sugar/high-carb foods, drinking alcohol, getting sick, and changing medication. A diet low in fiber and high in refined carbs or sugars and a sedentary lifestyle also make high blood sugar more likely.
So, what can you do when your blood sugar gets too high? Here are some natural ways to get your sugar back into a safe zone.
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How Does Diabetes Affect Metabolism
Diabetes is a metabolic disorder, which means it directly impairs the bodys ability to release and store energy from food. This happens due to problems with insulin production.
When a person eats carbohydrates, the body begins to break them down into their simplest form, which is glucose. This glucose then enters the bloodstream, delivering energy to cells around the body.
Usually, if blood glucose levels are too high, the pancreas releases insulin. This hormone tells the liver to remove glucose from the blood and turn it into glycogen, which the body can use later.
However, in people with diabetes, insulin levels become lower than they need to be. This leaves high levels of glucose in the blood, which serious consequences if left untreated.
There are two main types of diabetes:
How Does Diabetes Affect Protein Metabolism
In addition to carbohydrates, the body can use protein as an energy source. In some situations, the body can break down protein from its own muscles for energy. Experts term this catabolism.
An older 2008 article notes that people with type 1 diabetes who do not have enough insulin from their medication may experience catabolism, leading to a significant reduction in muscle mass. This same effect does not occur in people with type 2 diabetes.
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Foods That Lower Blood Sugars In Diabetics
Maintaining low blood sugar levels can be difficult for diabetic patients.
While a low carb diet appears to be useful on the whole, there are also many foods shown to help. Either by lowering blood sugars and/or improving insulin sensitivity.
This articles looks at 10 of the best foods and supplements for lowering blood sugars, based on current research.
Just know they should never be used in place of your diabetes medication, but rather alongside.
Does Everyone Have Symptoms From Hypoglycemia
Some people dont have symptoms or dont notice them. Healthcare providers call that situation hypoglycemia unawareness. People with such a challenge arent aware when they need to do something about their blood sugar. Theyre then more likely to have severe episodes and need medical help. People with hypoglycemia unawareness should check their blood sugar more often.
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Almonds Are One Of The Best Blood Sugar Stabilizing Foods
Almonds are high in monounsaturated fats which are associated with stable blood sugar levels. They are also a good source of several vitamins and minerals that can have a wide range of beneficial effects on the body. Magnesium is one mineral in particular that can lower your blood sugar. The fats in almonds are metabolized slowly by your body, as well as the protein and carbs. One cup of almonds has 45 grams of fat, 28 grams of which are healthy monounsaturated fat, 20 grams of protein, and 20 grams of carbohydrates. This is an excellent balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat which makes almonds almost like a small complete healthy meal. A perfect snack to keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day and keep you energized between meals without putting on weight.
Warm Up With Green Tea For An Antioxidant Boost
Tea has been used medicinally in Japan and China for thousands of years, but its exact health benefits on ailments like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, are unknown, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Yet some research offers clues as to how the green variety may impact insulin resistance and blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
For example, a review published in June 2013 in Diabetes & Metabolism Journal cited research that suggested people who drank six or more cups of green tea per week were 33 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than were people who consumed only a cup of green tea per week. The review also cited a study that suggested those who drank green tea regularly for more than a decade had smaller waistlines and a lower body fat composition than those who didn’t consume green tea regularly. Researchers explain the super-brew also contains polyphenols, antioxidants shown to regulate glucose in the body, which may help to prevent or control diabetes.
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What Are The Complications Of Low Blood Glucose
Mild-to-moderate low blood glucose can be easily treated. But severely low blood glucose can cause serious complications, including passing out, coma, or death.
Repeated episodes of low blood glucose can lead to
- high blood glucose levels, if worry or fear of low blood glucose keeps you from taking the medicines you need to manage your diabetes8
- hypoglycemia unawareness, a condition in which you dont notice any symptoms of low blood glucose until your blood glucose level has dropped very low
High Calorie Foods May Or May Not Cause The Blood Sugar Level To Rise
Many people think that all high-calorie foods raise blood sugar level, but this is not always the case.
In general, foods that cause blood sugar level to rise the most are those that are high in carbohydrates, which are quickly converted into energy, such as rice, bread, fruits and sugar. Next are foods high in protein, such as meats, fish eggs, milk and dairy products, and oily foods. However, even though carbohydrates affect blood sugar levels, if you don’t eat them your diet will be unbalanced and you won’t feel satisfied after your meal, which can lead to excessive consumption of foods rich in protein and fat.
Food containing three major nutrients
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The Blood Sugar Level Regulation Mechanism
When you eat rice, bread, or any other typical food high in carbohydrates, it is digested by the stomach and small intestine, where it is absorbed into the blood as glucose. Figure 1 shows how it is absorbed into the body.
Figure 1: Absorption of glucose
When glucose enters the bloodstream, insulin facilitates its uptake into the body’s cells. When an excess of glucose is ingested, insulin over secretion occurs. Insulin increases the biosynthesis of fat and suppresses its breakdown. Thus, it becomes easier for fat to accumulate in body tissues.
Blood sugar level will not drop if the sugar in the blood is not properly processed due to, for example, too little insulin being secreted, or resistance to the action of insulin. If blood sugar levels have not decreased several hours after eating on a regular basis, this indicates a susceptibility to diabetes. To avoid this and stay healthy, we should eat types of foods that will not cause a sudden, extreme rise in blood sugar levels.
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What is a healthy blood sugar level
- Fasting blood sugar level 99mg/dL
- Postprandial blood sugar level 7.8mmol/L
Grapefruit Is Excellent For Preventing Insulin Resistance
Not only is grapefruit proven to be effective as a weight loss aid, it is also excellent at preventing insulin resistance. Grapefruit have an antioxidant called narigenin which is effective at preventing insulin resistance. Studies found that mice who were given narigenin were able to control their blood sugar levels in spite of the amount of glucose that they ate. It turns out that this antioxidant may be one of the most potent compounds that can prevent insulin resistance as more research on grapefruit is performed. Grapefruit can interfere with the absorption of a wide range of different medications so if you are on any medications it is important to discuss eating grapefruit with your medical provider before you start adding it into your diet. If you are not on medications you don’t have to worry as it is a natural fruit that doesn’t have any harmful interactions by itself.
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