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Stress Management for Health Course

Stress and Hypoglycaemia

"Pure, white and deadly." (Professor John Yudkin)
Description of white, refined sugar.

Most of us have experienced the feeling of being more irritable and less able to think clearly when we have not eaten for some time and our blood sugar is low.  Hypoglycaemia is a condition where the level of glucose in our blood stream is too low.  It is not an illness and does not mean we have diabetes.  It is brought about by the western diet, which is high in fat, low in fibre with a high amount of refined carbohydrates (sugary foods).

Our blood glucose levels are designed to be stable, however a diet high in refined sugars such as fizzy drinks, cakes, biscuits, sweets and alcohol all cause the blood sugar to rise too quickly which stimulates the pancreas gland to dump excess insulin into our blood stream and as a result our blood sugar levels can plummet far too low, too quickly. This deprives the brain of glucose; the brain is very dependent on glucose and doesnt do well with a low blood sugar so it stimulates the release of stress hormones bringing about the fight/flight response which amongst other things unlocks the bodys fat reserves to be used for energy.

Hypoglycaemia can be a complication for people with diabetes but it can also affect people who don't have diabetes who consume a highly refined sugar based, (junk food) diet causing their blood sugar to swing up and down instead of being more stable as it is when refined sugars are replaced by complex carbohydrates, which still have their fibre intact.  The sugar in natural, non-processed, complex carbohydrate food is bound up with its fibre content which allows for a slow release of the glucose, instead of being suddenly dumped as happens with refined carbohydrates where the fibre is processed out giving the body an instant hit of sugar making the blood sugar rise too quickly.

Some people are more vulnerable to developing hypoglycaemia than others; their pancreas begins to become hypersensitive and secretes high levels of insulin.    It can seem incredible to believe that what we eat and the resultant hypoglycaemia can have such effects, but research has shown that they do.


Conditions Linked to Hypoglycaemia


Hypoglycaemia is not an illness but it can be a complicating factor in many health problems such as:


        Panic Attacks



        Alcohol dependence










Do not diagnose yourself as suffering hypoglycaemia.  Some of the symptoms of hypoglycaemia can mimic other health conditions so see your Doctor.


How to Keep Blood Sugar Levels Stable


In order order to keep our blood sugar levels more stable we need to eat a more wholefood diet and reduce our intakes of refined carbohydrates and move away from a diet containing mainly refined carbohydrates to a deit that is mainly made up to complex carbohydrates.  Each of us on a western diet consumes nearly one hundred pounds of refined sugar per year.  Most people would say that they don't eat this much but 80% of this sugar intake is hidden in processed foods.  There is even sugar added to foods like frozen peas, alot of breakfast cereals have alot of added refined sugar.


        Do not skip meals

        Eat regularly

        Avoid refined sugary foods   

        Cut down on cigarettes,

      caffeine and alcohol

        Consume complex carbohydrates


Try to avoid the following as much as possible:





        Refined sugars

        White bread

        Fizzy drinks




Replace them with complex carbohydrates such as:



        Wholegrain cereals

        Make your own sugar free muesli


There are tremendous benefits to be gained from eating a complex carbohydrate based diet such as more energy, less fatigue and less stress, but don't expect overnight results, the first few days of changing to a more healthy eating plan can be difficult as you crave refined carbohydrates.  It is important to try to resist this.  It is also important, when you remove refined carbohydrates, that you replace them with some form of complex carbohydrate. 


The Most Common Symptoms of Hypoglycaemia


        Blurred vision








        Jaundiced look


        Poor concentration

        Panic feelings

        Lack of co-ordination



        Free-floating Anxiety




        Chest pain


        Feelings of inner trembling

        Constant hunger

        Over acid stomach


        Food cravings

        Excessive smoking


        Premenstrual tension

        Lack of sex drive

        Cold hands and feet

        Stiff muscles

        Stiff joints

        Swollen feet


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