Hypoglycemia is a condition that occurs when your blood sugar (glucose) is too low. Blood sugar below 70 mg/dL is considered low.
Symptoms you may have when your blood sugar gets too low include:
- Cold sweats
- Double vision or blurry vision
- Fast or pounding heartbeat
- General discomfort, uneasiness, or ill feeling (malaise)
- Irritability (possible aggression)
- Shaking or trembling
- Sleeping difficulty
- Tingling or numbness of the skin
- Tiredness or weakness
- Unclear thinking
Extreme forms of hypoglycemia will show up on a general blood chemistry panel as a glucose level that is below normal. However, many people who experience hypoglycemia have glucose levels that are within the normal range. Therefore testing your blood glucose level is generally not helpful for diagnosing the most common forms of hypoglycemia described above.
The most reliable way for the average person to determine whether or not they are hypoglycemic is simply to realize that their symptoms go away when they eat. This is a sure sign that you are suffering from hypoglycemia. Why do people have hypoglycemia?
Unless you are starving yourself, experiencing extreme athletic activity, treating diabetes, or have a rare metabolic disorder, there must be some other reason for the frequent drops in your blood sugar.
In the patients that we see and in my own personal experience, one of the primary causes of hypoglycemia is that people are not properly absorbing the nutrients from the food that they eat. Therefore even though they are eating a lot and eating frequently, they don’t benefit from their food the way the average person does.
These people get hungry within a couple of hours after eating, and they have to eat again, or ingest some candy to get their blood sugar back up. But it never lasts very long. These people have trouble gaining weight, though it’s not a prerequisite for having hypoglycemia. And people often will say that their need to eat is a sign of a high metabolism. This is incorrect. It’s a sign of malabsorption. Ironically, there need not be any obvious digestive problems when someone does not digest their food well.
What is causing the malabsorption? In my experience the primary cause of this problem is food allergies and intolerances. If you are eating something to which your immune system is responding (which is the case in most food intolerance and sensitivities), then that food isn’t just providing some nutrition, it’s also providing a reason to be attacked as if it were a foreign invader. That interferes with the absorption of nutrients, and it also takes a lot of energy. Eating will keep you alive, but it won’t keep you going like it should. The result being hypoglycemia.
How to Solve the Problem
The goal is to improve your digestion and absorption of nutrients, whether or not you have problematic digestive problems. Sorting out your food allergens and intolerance with the proper blood tests is very important to resolving hypoglycemia. This requires specialized testing not run by most physicians. Then you must eliminate those foods from your diet in order to allow your digestive tract to heal.
And finally, emphasize protein in your diet. It will help the healing process and support your energy and blood sugar levels much longer than carbohydrates can. Other factors can also be involved that can also be sorted out, but most people will find that their energy and endurance will noticeably improve and continue to get better with time.