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Survival Food for Hypoglycemia

I recently had a hypoglycemic attack. The first in months and months ... and because it had been a while, I'd forgotten my first rule: no sugar in the morning/protein preferred.

My son recently got a gluten-free cereal that had a lot of sugar. Even though it tasted horribly sugary, I ate a bowl, with rice milk. An hour later, I realized what I'd done, and started gnawing on half a protein bar.

Two hours later, we were in the middle of our Saturday errands when I began to tremble. I could barely stand. My hands shook. I was sweating. Breathing heavy. Almost couldn't talk. My head was going to explode, and everything was fading. I felt faint.

We rushed to the nearest place to eat (unfortunately, a McDonald's). My son and Hubby looked scared; my Son held my shaking hand as I tried to patiently wait at the table. I couldn't - I sent Son over to get something, anything, from Hubby. As soon as I was handed food, I chomped down. I'm sure I looked like a big fat woman with no control, and by the shaking of my hands, I also looked like an addict or someone with Parkinson's.

This episode reminded me: we need to stock up on enough items to get me through several hypoglycemic attacks. The following is from the website:

Nutrient and Supplemental Therapy:
Acute hypoglycemia therapy focuses on immediately raising the blood sugar level. Any substance containing carbohydrates, such as saltine crackers, fruit juice, or hard candy, if taken at the beginning of a hypoglycemic episode, will help raise blood sugar quickly and ease the severity of an attack. A severe hypoglycemic attack is therefore a good time to consume rapidly absorbed simple sugars. Fruit juice, glucose syrup, or sugary soft drinks can be lifesaving. Milder attacks can be managed with foods that contain complex carbohydrates, which are less rapidly absorbed. However, these should not be used by a person having a severe attack (i.e., a diabetic with an insulin reaction).

The following nutrients have been shown to help normalize blood glucose levels:

Chromium. Chromium is widely recognized as an essential trace element. It has multiple effects on insulin levels. Chromium has been widely studied in the context of type 2 diabetes for its ability to lower blood sugar levels at higher doses by increasing insulin sensitivity (Racek J 2003). However, studies have also shown that chromium can help enhance glucagon secretion (McCarty MF 1996).

Amino acids. Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the human body and is involved in more metabolic processes than any other amino acid (Stumvoll M et al 1999). Few clinical trials have been conducted to determine if glutamine supplementation can increase glucose levels. Amino acid infusions, however, are known to raise glucagon levels, which in otherwise healthy individuals produces an increase in glucose (Nair KS et al 1990). Hypoglycemia was induced by insulin infusions in diabetic and nondiabetic subjects in two studies. The participants then received amino acid mixtures. The results indicated a sharp rise in glucagon secretion in normal participants and a modest rise in diabetic participants (Caprio C et al

A study in an animal model demonstrated that the liver's ability to produce glucose from certain amino acids was increased during hypoglycemia induced by insulin. Glucose levels increased in animals given the amino acid infusion but not in control animals given only a saline infusion (de Souza HM et al 2001).

N-acetylcysteine. N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is a protein amino acid that has antioxidant properties. It has been shown to alleviate hypoglycemia in rodents exposed to toxic chemicals by preventing the rapid loss of glucose. For example, in one study of rats exposed to a toxin that causes hypoglycemia, administration of 200 mg/kg NAC prevented depletion of glucose (Sprague CL et al 2005). In another study of rats exposed to arsenic, which is known to cause hypoglycemia, administration of 163.2 mg/kg of NAC daily prevented hypoglycemia (Pal S et al 2004).

Lifestyle Changes for Hypoglycemics:
A well-balanced diet will help normalize blood sugar levels. Usually a regimen moderate in protein, unrefined carbohydrates (such as whole-grain products and vegetables, which are slow to be absorbed), and fats is recommended. Foods high in rapidly absorbed sugars should be avoided. This diet can help prevent reactive hypoglycemia due to a sudden influx of glucose into the blood.

The use of a fiber supplement before meals also helps control the rate of absorption of dietary carbohydrates. Alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, and other stimulants should be avoided because they are capable of precipitating a hypoglycemic attack. Small meals taken often during the day are recommended to control the amount of carbohydrates entering the system and to prevent rapid declines in blood glucose levels.

Guess we're stocking up on crackers, fiber tablets, chromium, glutamine, and dried veggies. Do you have a special diet to prepare for?

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