Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, is often thought about as part of diabetes, but there is also non-diabetic hypoglycemia. Non-diabetic hypoglycemia is just as equally problematic. When blood sugar is too low, the cause is not as important as realizing the impact. Some of the effects of hypoglycemia are immediate while others take time to manifest, resulting in long term deficits in your health.
What is Non-Diabetic Hypoglycemia?
Hypoglycemia, which again is the same as low blood sugar, is most often thought about in diabetics. This group of individuals often uses medications, including insulin, to lower their glucose, which is often high. When their glucose drops too low as a result of the medication, they are considered in a hypoglycemic state. However, an entire different segment of the population deals with non-diabetic hypoglycemia. Non-diabetic hypoglycemia occurs for reasons that are almost the exact opposite of why someone would develop diabetes.
While diabetes arises as a result of excess carbohydrates in the diet, non-diabetic hypoglycemia occurs from a lack of carbohydrates in the diet. Carbohydrates are essential as the preferred energy source for our body. Yes, the total amount of carbohydrate and the source should factor in, but carbohydrates are necessary. In addition to not eating enough carbohydrates, insufficient production of hormones and neurotransmitters (nervous system communicators) can lead to non-diabetic hypoglycemia. Contrary to common medical thought, this does not require the presence of a named disease of the glands that produce the chemicals that helps us keep glucose balanced.
4 Clues that You May Have Non-Diabetic Hypoglycemia
Fatigue: The Number One Symptom of Non-Diabetic Hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia is the same as low blood sugar. Blood sugar is the body’s preferred energy source. Therefore, hypoglycemia equals low energy, or fatigue. It is as simple as that. If you don’t have enough fuel in your vehicle, it doesn’t go. If you don’t have enough fuel in you, you don’t go either. Or at least you don’t function very efficiently.
The cells in your brain are no different than other tissues in the body. They need energy. In fact, 25-33% of the total carbohydrates you consume in the diet each day fuels your brain. Therefore, if the brain is not getting fuel, it cannot function efficiently. While the brain can function off of ketones, as seen with lower carbohydrate and higher fat diets, this is not the optimal energy source. Your brain cells need to make energy and do it easily to communicate with each other. If brain cells are not communicating, neither are you effectively. If you want to wake your brain up, feed if the right fuel, predominantly non-starchy vegetables.
Anxiety: Is Following a “Healthy Diet” Your Problem
Non-diabetic hypoglycemia goes hand in hand with anxiety. Anxiety is far more common than in the past, and while there is not one cause, non-diabetic hypoglycemia is often part of the cause. Therefore, addressing it is also part of the solution for anxiety. As blood sugar declines, adrenaline is released, along with a few other things. Adrenaline helps bring blood sugar up, but it also speeds up the brain when released often enough. If you wind the brain up routinely, you end up with anxiety.
The Most Surprising Reason: You Follow a Paleo Diet / Low Carbohydrate Diet
That’s right! Following a low carbohydrate, or even those that sometimes try to follow a no carbohydrate diet, are at high risk of non-diabetic hypoglycemia. As mentioned earlier, hypoglycemia is low blood sugar. Blood sugar levels are directly affected by the carbohydrates in our diet. The fewer the carbohydrates, the greater the chance of hypoglycemia. While low carbohydrate diets have shown benefit for weight loss and improving blood sugar levels when high, they are not ideal for individuals that have normal or more importantly low fasting glucose. If you work out routinely, have been eating a Paleo Diet, or some other form of low carbohydrate diet, and / or do not have sufficient hormone production (many don’t), then you are probably dealing with non-diabetic hypoglycemia and could benefit from the addition of some carbohydrates in your diet. However, before you take off and start just eating any carbohydrate, I am advocating that you get the vast majority of those carbohydrates from starchy vegetables. The Paleo Diet, when appropriately applied, should not be thought of as a low carbohydrate diet, but rather a diet of unprocessed food that emphasizes plants.
How to Start Dealing with Non-Diabetic Hypoglycemia
Step one of managing low blood sugar that is not diabetes related is eat sufficient amounts of the right types of carbohydrates. The type of carbohydrates that you will not go wrong with are starchy vegetables. I have said that a few times in this post. Therefore, it must be important. So in parting, I want to leave you with a tool. I have attached a list of starchy vegetables that you can incorporate into the diet to begin managing your non-diabetic hypoglycemia.