How low can you go? Although that sounds like it could lead into a fun limbo competition, when it comes to blood glucose it is a game that diabetics do not want to play. The saying is that “highs will kill you in the long run but lows will kill you now”. Low blood glucose happens when there is not enough glucose in your bloodstream caused by not eating enough or by taking too much insulin. Everyone can experience low blood sugar and can probably relate to the symptoms of sweating, shaking, irritability, fogginess, exhaustion, and incoherence. The difference and danger for diabetics, though, is that it can lead to passing out, seizures, comas, and even death. The guidelines for what is considered low by the American Diabetes Association is below 70. My personal lowest has been 24 (at zero you are dead). I woke up at 24 in the middle of the night in a ridiculous sweat and couldn’t stop shaking. I walked into the kitchen, opened the refrigerator, and then completely forgot what I was doing there. I knew that I needed to do something and do it quickly but I could not for the life of me remember why I was standing in the kitchen drenched in sweat shaking. Finally, I saw the juice and was able to put two and two together. The reason behind this incoherence is that your brain is not getting the energy that it needs to properly function.
This is my perception of how I act when I am low but I also want to let you know how to recognize someone going low if you don’t have diabetes (cue my best friend Shandra). She describes me as disoriented or confused, sweating, restless, and hungry. She wanted to add a little disclaimer on that last bit because I am always hungry. She has gotten really good at recognizing these symptoms and helping me get what I need (for both her and my sanity and safety).
The only way to treat lows is to ingest simple fast acting carbohydrates, aka sugar. The most common “go to” for fixing lows is juice since it is easy to ingest and is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream. So, you can imagine when I was at 24 how enthusiastically I was eating and drinking all the simple carbohydrates in sight. To be completely honest, I sometimes get “excited” when I start to go a little low because that means it is cookie time! I do need to put in a disclaimer, though, that the recommended way to treat lows is to take glucose tablets which are premeasured at 4 grams of carbohydrates (click here to see the different types) so you can know exactly how many carbs you are ingesting (because you are definitely less likely to overindulge on these as oppose to milk and cookies).
I cannot stress enough how much diabetics revolve their life around carbohydrates and how incredibly important it is for us to have accurate counts. That is why I am so excited to bring you this resource so we can have one less thing to add to our survival list! Now, go dominate that limbo contest and go low in the right way!