Low blood sugar low-down
Low blood sugar low-down
Skipping breakfast can trigger aft sorts of nasty, unexpected reactions, reports Janet Pleshette
When you skip breakfast altogether - or just grab a cup of black coffee on your way out of the door - do you soon feel wobbly and confused?
Going without breakfast can affect your ability to think and work throughout the day and it won't slim you, either - breakfast calories are readily burned as energy.
Volunteers breakfasting solely on unsweetened black coffee felt disorientated and tired only half an hour later. This is because their blood sugar, circulating in the body to produce energy, fell drastically.
When they subsequently lunched on a salad sandwich with more black coffee, blood sugar levels fell even more.
Everyone suffers from transient low blood sugar, or hypoglycaemia, occasionally. But habitually skipping breakfast can encourage regular hypoglycaemia.
All food is changed into blood sugar, or glucose, and the body controls its blood sugar levels constantly, mainly with insulin.
Missing breakfast can cause a dramatic fall in blood sugar levels and, oddly enough, coffee (much less tea) causes a temporary energy surge, followed by energy dropping as blood sugar plummets still more. Eating refined, sugary foods can also have this see-saw effect. Stress, food allergies, alcohol and some drugs can all unbalance the blood sugar mechanism.
The brain strain
Hypoglycaemic symptoms come mostly from the brain, which has no reserves of glucose and depends upon a constant supply. They include fatigue, mental confusion, sudden hunger, irritability, depression and anxiety.
Other symptoms of a drop in blood sugar levels include trembling and dizziness, asthma, digestive disorders, sweats, headaches and migraine, hyperactivity in children - almost anything, in fact, which is why functional hypoglycaemia is still pooh-poohed by a few doctors.
To make matters worse, scientists at a recent conference on cholesterol and high blood pressure in Washington DC, USA, have suggested that skipping breakfast makes blood more 'sticky' so that the risk of blood clots and heart damage is increased.
And other American research has found that children replacing breakfast with plenty of coffee and tea had higher blood pressure than the average.
Returning to the black coffee volunteers - when they ate an adequate breakfast and lunch, their low blood sugar symptoms disappeared.
If you think you may have a tendency to hypoglycaemia, stick to small, frequent meals of unrefined carbohydrates, protein and fruit, avoiding added sugars and honey. If symptoms persist, consult a naturopath (ask in your local library for a list) or a nutritionally aware doctor.
Market Link Publishing.
By Janet Pleshette