Low blood sugar is referred to medically as hypoglycemia and usually happens when a person’s blood sugar levels drop below the standard range of between 5 and 6 millimoles per liter. 

Diabetic medications can cause hypoglycemia in people with diabetes, but many people experience low blood sugar without being diabetic.

Symptoms of low blood sugar include:

  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Headaches
  • Paleness
  • Nausea
  • Irregular or increased heart rate
  • Hunger
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Tingling of the mouth, tongue, or cheeks

Severely low blood sugar can cause confusion, slurred speech, coordination problems, and blurred vision.

Reactive hypoglycemia is a condition where a person’s blood sugar drops after they have eaten a carbohydrate-rich meal. Carbohydrates trigger a surge of insulin which causes a spike then drop in blood sugar. 

Eating small, frequent meals with a combination of healthy fats, proteins, and a small portion of whole-grain, slow-releasing carbohydrates will help to keep the blood sugar levels balanced. Sugar and refined carbohydrates should be avoided completely.

Hypoglycemia is often a symptom of adrenal insufficiency. When the adrenal glands have been overstressed the body will struggle to regulate a person’s blood sugar levels. People with adrenal fatigue can experience hypoglycemia but if they have a blood test their blood sugar levels may appear normal.

Supporting the adrenal glands is essential to prevent blood sugar fluctuations. It is not ideal to fast or to go for long periods of time without food if you have hypoglycemic episodes. Skipping meals depletes the body’s reserves too quickly and advances adrenal fatigue.

When the adrenal glands become fatigued they slow down their production of cortisol which plays a vital role in the conversion of nutrients to glucose, leaving our cells depleted of the fuel they need to make the energy to keep our bodies going.

When our blood sugar drops and we experience the symptoms associated with hypoglycemia, it can be very tempting to eat something sweet. This is not always the best option. If your blood sugar is dangerously low, you can eat a glucose sweet, but that should be followed by a small meal or snack. Something like peanut butter with honey on a wholegrain slice of bread would be a better option and will prevent a continuous spike and drop in blood sugar levels.

Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 26 January 2023 to learn more. Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am