The majority of my patients suffer from some level of fatigue, irritability, nervousness, sadness and anger daily. Often people consider these symptoms as normal occurrences as they have been part of their lives for years. When these symptoms become severe, they tend to get diagnosed as Dysthymic Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, or Anxiety Disorder and people are treated with pharmaceutical medications accordingly. I do two simple tests with all my patients with these symptoms:
- Give them a short 2 minute questionnaire. Click Here to take the questionnaire.
- Check their fasting blood sugar (glucose). Fasting blood glucose should be between 85-100 mg/dl
What I tend to find with most of these patients is a low fasting blood glucose or hypogycemia. With the consumption of the modern diet (Standard American Diet), the incidence of blood sugar imbalance has been on the rise. Health care professionals tend to address blood sugar issues when they are high. However, there is a spectrum of blood sugar imbalance from very low blood sugar to very high blood sugar. When blood sugar is low it is referred to as Hypoglycemia and when it is high it is referred to Insulin Resistance or in very high cases it is diagnosed as Diabetes. Hypoglycemia tends to a contributing factor to many of the above mentioned symptoms.
Blood sugar control is a balancing act. The body releases hormones such as insulin to reduce high levels of glucose and cortisol and adrenalin to elevate the levels in the blood. The constant stimulation of these hormones can precipitate respective organ fatigue which will give future rise to issues with these hormones.
It is, therefore, imperative to address hypoglycemia if present. Take the questionnaire above to determine if your symptoms are due to hypoglycemia. You can monitor your blood sugar with a glucometer purchased from any pharmacy.
Below are my simple lifestyle and dietary tips to manage hypoglycemia:
*Do not skip breakfast
*Eat a high quality protein-based breakfast
*Eat every 3 hours. Do not wait until you are hungry
*To slow blood sugar absorption remember to include the following with meals and snacks: Protein, healthy fats/oils, and fiber
*Eat foods with low glycemic Index such as nuts, seeds, hard-boiled eggs, etc.
*Avoid all fruit juices and carrot juice
*Never consume high glycemic index foods, including fruit, without a source of protein
*Avoid all adrenal stimulants such as:
-Foods to which you are allergic
-Partially hydrogenated fats
*Avoid over-training moderate exercise, 45 minutes, 3-5 times a week is considered adequate
*Get adequate sleep at least 6-8 hours
*Keep exercise within Target Training Zone. Focus on mild exercises such as walking, jogging, swimming, slow cycling. Minimize fast-paced exercises. This will allow fatty acids instead of simple sugars to be used for energy.
Calculating your Target Training Zone:
This method of calculating your Target Heart Range (Target Training Zone) is based on your maximum heart rate and resting pulse.
To determine your Target Training Zone follow the steps below:
Take your Resting Heart Rate (pulse) three mornings in a row, just after waking up. Add all of them together, and divide by 3, to get the average.
Lets say your average is 60 beats per minute.
(220) (your age) = Maximum Heart Rate (MaxHR)
(MaxHR) (Resting Heart Rate) = Heart Rate Reserve (HRR)
(HRR) x (60% to 80%) = Training Range %
(Training Range %) + (Resting Heart Rate) = (Target Training Zone)
So, for example, if you are 35 years of age with a Resting Heart Rate of 60, you would do the following calculations:
220 35 = 185 (MaxHR)
185 60 = 125 (HRR)
125 x 0.6 = 75 (60% training percentage)
125 x 0.8 = 100 (80% training percentage)
75 + 60 = 135 (Target Training Zone, in beats per minute)
100 + 60 = 160 (Target Training Zone, in beats per minute)
So, your Target Training Zone or Target Heart Rate in beats per minute is 135 to 160. To get a 15 second target simply divide each number by 4. That would be 34 to 40 beats over 15 seconds. When counting beats, start with the first beat as zero: i.e. 0-1-2-3-438-39-40.
Glycemic Index vs. Glycemic Load:
You might have heard these two terms before. To clarify, the Glycemic Index will rate foods from 1 to 100 based on the rate at which they affect your blood glucose. The higher the number the faster it will raise your blood sugar and thus the worse that food is for you.
Glycemic Load is a more useful tool. It takes into account the amount of carbohydrate in a serving size. In general Glycemic Load of 10 or less is low, 11 to 19 is medium, 20 or more is high. If you add up the Glycemic Load amounts for your entire day, a total GL amount of 80 or less is considered low and your daily GL shouldnt exceed 120.
Harvard Health Publications has a comprehensive Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load chart which can be found on their website Click Here to be routed to their site.