Managing Hypoglycemia with Better Diet and Lifestyle Choices

Glucose is the most crucial energy source for the human body. 

In most of our body cells, glucose is broken down to produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the energy molecule that fuels many of our cells’ processes. 

Glucose is delivered to our cells from the bloodstream. Therefore we need a steady supply of glucose in the blood to supply energy to function properly. When there is insufficient glucose in the blood, the person will suffer from hypoglycemia, adversely impacting cell and organ function.

People with hypoglycemia often experience fatigue, sweating, shakiness, irritability, and sometimes irregular heartbeat. When the condition worsens, the person may lose consciousness, suffer from seizures, end up in a coma, and even lead to death. Therefore, you want to be mindful of any symptoms indicating abnormally low blood sugar levels.  

Glucose in the blood either comes from the food that we eat or from the breakdown of glycogen, the glucose storage molecule, which is converted into glucose when needed and released into the bloodstream.

When the food we eat is digested, glucose is released from it. The glucose is then absorbed by the small intestine and enters the bloodstream. 

The body cells then take up the glucose from the bloodstream for use as an energy source or to be stored for future use in the liver or fat tissue.

When checking blood glucose levels, mild hypoglycemia is defined as having blood glucose under 70 mg/dL for over 10 minutes. Mild hypoglycemia does not require external assistance, but sugar needs to be ingested fast. 

More severe hypoglycemia needs immediate medical attention. 

Those with diabetes are most prone to hypoglycemia. However, if you consume a poor diet or on an extreme weight loss diet, consume alcohol regularly, suffer from an eating disorder, or have problems regulating glucose metabolism, you may also develop hypoglycemia. 

Various medications are available to control hyperglycemia. However, those medications are associated with adverse reactions such as hypoglycemia, weight gain, digestive issues, liver toxicity, and skin rash. Overall, blood glucose levels are not well controlled by medications alone, mainly due to poor compliance, inappropriate self-care behavior, and psychological difficulties with self-administered insulin injections. 

Herbal supplements and dietary changes are safe, effective, and often also convenient; therefore, they should be considered the first line of treatment. [1-11]

Here are some ways to prevent hypoglycemic episodes:  

Reduce or eliminate alcoholic drinks

Drinking alcohol can inhibit gluconeogenesis, the metabolic pathway that generates glucose in the body. Furthermore, alcohol can prevent the liver from functioning as it should, reducing liver glycogen content. So there is a decrease in blood glucose levels that may drop to severely low levels and cannot be fixed by releasing the glucose stogie molecule glycogen because the body is deficient in glycogen due to alcohol consumption. This is especially a problem for people with diabetes at risk of hypoglycemia. The alcohol can remain in the body for hours, impacting your liver and blood sugar levels for a long time. Moreover, alcohol may also adversely interact with medication for diabetes. [12-16]

Choose foods with a low glycemic index (GI)

Swap high GI foods such as refined carbohydrates and sugar with low GI options to promote better blood sugar management. There are favorable effects of low GI diets on fasting glucose and insulin sensitivity. In a decade-long study led by a team from the College of Health Solutions and Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center in Phoenix, participants on diets with a low GI score showed improvements in markers of glucose balance. [17]

Foods with a low glycemic index score include green vegetables, all legumes, and whole grains. Most fruits are also low on the GI scale.

Eat smaller meals or snacks throughout the day.

Skipping meals is harmful to people prone to hypoglycemia, but it’s also problematic as you tend to get too hungry in between meals. Therefore, if you are high-risk for hypoglycemia, it is better to eat smaller meals every 3 to 4 hours a day than large meals three times a day.

If you’re too busy to plan and prepare small meals every four hours, practice smart snacking. According to research, healthy snacking habits can regulate plasma glucose, boost insulin release, and improve glycemic control. [18] Snacks that are low GI and healthy include bananas, grapes, apples, and oranges. Other delicious snacks for people prone to hypoglycemia are whole-grain crackers with all-natural peanut butter, fresh vegetables with hummus, and nuts with fresh berries. 

Food combining

Since carbohydrate-rich foods affect blood glucose levels the most, consuming various foods with different glycemic indices in the same meal can help control hypoglycemia. 

Consuming a meal rich in fiber from whole grains or potatoes along with a protein source such as any legumes or seeds has been shown to reduce both daytime and nighttime hypoglycemia. On the other hand, consuming foods with a high glycemic index such as refined carbohydrates along with fats has been shown to increase daytime hypoglycemia.


Cinnamon has been clinically studied, showing strong scientific evidence supporting the hypoglycemic activity of cinnamon in type 2 diabetic patients. However, this study also showed that cinnamon provides limited benefits in lowering blood glucose levels in specific subject populations, including type 1 diabetic and postmenopausal type 2 diabetic patients [19-23].


Fenugreek has shown high consistency in lowering fasting blood sugar levels (FBS) or glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels in diabetic patients.

The best results were shown with daily supplementation of 15 g fenugreek seed soaked in water or 100 g of fenugreek seed powder, or 5 g of natural fenugreek.

However, scientific evidence also shows that fenugreek does not lower blood glucose in healthy and obese subjects. [24-33]


To lower the risk of hypoglycemia and all of its effects on your health, you want to minimize alcohol consumption and the consumption of high GI foods that may disrupt healthy glucose levels. If you also practice good snacking and food combining habits throughout the day, you can prevent hypoglycemia. Because severe hypoglycemia can be life-threatening, it’s crucial to monitor blood sugar levels and symptoms.

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