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Hypoglycemia Diet

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Food NameAlcoholCaffeineFiberComplex CarbsGlucoseSugars
Butter, salted0.000.00.0 0.1
Butter, whipped, with salt0.000.00.0 0.1
Butter oil, anhydrous0.000.00.00.00.0
Cheese, blue0.000.00.0 0.5
Cheese, brick0.000.00.0 0.5
Cheese, brie0.000.00.0 0.5
Cheese, camembert0.000.00.0 0.5
Cheese, caraway  0.00.0  
Cheese, cheddar0.000.00.0 0.5
Cheese, cheshire  0.00.0  
Cheese, colby0.000.00.0 0.5
Cheese, cottage, creamed, large or small curd0.000.00.00.02.7
Cheese, cottage, creamed, with fruit0.000.20.2 2.4
Cheese, cottage, nonfat, uncreamed, dry, large or small curd0.000.00.00.31.9
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Hypoglycemia

information from the National Institutes of Health

Hypoglycemia, also called low blood glucose or low blood sugar, occurs when blood glucose drops below normal levels. Glucose, an important source of energy for the body, comes from food. Carbohydrates are the main dietary source of glucose. Rice, potatoes, bread, tortillas, cereal, milk, fruit, and sweets are all carbohydrate-rich foods.

After a meal, glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream and carried to the body's cells. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps the cells use glucose for energy. If a person takes in more glucose than the body needs at the time, the body stores the extra glucose in the liver and muscles in a form called glycogen. The body can use glycogen for energy between meals. Extra glucose can also be changed to fat and stored in fat cells. Fat can also be used for energy.

When blood glucose begins to fall, glucagon—another hormone made by the pancreas—signals the liver to break down glycogen and release glucose into the bloodstream. Blood glucose will then rise toward a normal level. In some people with diabetes, this glucagon response to hypoglycemia is impaired and other hormones such as epinephrine, also called adrenaline, may raise the blood glucose level. But with diabetes treated with insulin or pills that increase insulin production, glucose levels can't easily return to the normal range.

Hypoglycemia can happen suddenly. It is usually mild and can be treated quickly and easily by eating or drinking a small amount of glucose-rich food. If left untreated, hypoglycemia can get worse and cause confusion, clumsiness, or fainting. Severe hypoglycemia can lead to seizures, coma, and even death.

In adults and children older than 10 years, hypoglycemia is uncommon except as a side effect of diabetes treatment. Hypoglycemia can also result, however, from other medications or diseases, hormone or enzyme deficiencies, or tumors.

Treatment of Hypoglycemia

Signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia vary from person to person.
People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. They may need a change in their treatment plan: less medication or a different medication, a new schedule for insulin or medication, a different meal plan, or a new physical activity plan.
This hypoglycemia diet food database can help you devise an appropriate meal plan based on recommendations of your physicians.

When people think their blood glucose is too low, they should check the blood glucose level of a blood sample using a meter. If the level is below 70 mg/dL, one of these quick-fix foods should be consumed right away to raise blood glucose:

  • 3 or 4 glucose tablets
  • 1 serving of glucose gel—the amount equal to 15 grams of carbohydrate
  • 1/2 cup, or 4 ounces, of any fruit juice
  • 1/2 cup, or 4 ounces, of a regular—not diet—soft drink
  • 1 cup, or 8 ounces, of milk
  • 5 or 6 pieces of hard candy
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey

Recommended amounts may be less for small children. The child's doctor can advise about the right amount to give a child.

The next step is to recheck blood glucose in 15 minutes to make sure it is 70 mg/dL or above. If it's still too low, another serving of a quick-fix food should be eaten. These steps should be repeated until the blood glucose level is 70 mg/dL or above. If the next meal is an hour or more away, a snack should be eaten once the quick-fix foods have raised the blood glucose level to 70 mg/dL or above.

Hypoglycemia and Alcohol

Drinking alcoholic beverages, especially on an empty stomach, can cause hypoglycemia, even a day or two later. The body's breakdown of alcohol interferes with the liver's efforts to raise blood glucose. Heavy drinking can be particularly dangerous for people taking insulin or medications that increase insulin production. Alcoholic beverages should always be consumed with a snack or meal at the same time.

Hypoglycemia and Caffeine

Caffeine should be avoided. Caffeine stimulates the production of adrenaline. So does reactive hypoglycemia. Therefore, caffeine in the diet can make symptoms worse because the production of adrenaline is increased. NIH research indicates that caffeine may increase an individual's sensitivity to hypoglycemia through the combined effects of reducing substrate delivery to the brain via constriction of the cerebral arteries, whilst simultaneously increasing brain glucose metabolism and augmenting catecholamine production.

Hypoglycemia Diet and Complex Carbs vs. Simple Sugars

To relieve reactive hypoglycemia, some health professionals recommend

  • eating foods high in complex carbohydrates (fiber, starch)
  • avoiding or limiting foods high in simple sugar, especially on an empty stomach

Complex carbohydrates take longer to break down in the intestine, and this helps to keep blood glucose levels more consistent. Fiber is a type of complex carbohydrates.


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