The brain requires glucose to function and if the blood sugar level is dangerously lowered loss of consciousness can result. The body has a back-up system to prevent this from happening in the face of insufficient glucose in the blood stream. There is a release of the chemical epinephrine (adrenaline) which normalizes the blood sugar levels. Of course, release of epinephrine can have other results including increased heart rate, pupil dilation, agitation, restlessness, anger, lowering of frustration level, loss of normal behavioral inhibition. Hypoglycemia occurs in two ways. One way is not eating frequently enough. Children with ADHD are often too distracted to sit and eat a meal and compound their restlessness with a lowering of blood sugar. It can be better for these children to eat many small meals during the day to maintain a steady flow of glucose into the blood stream.
The other way that hypoglycemia occurs is eating meals consisting of simple sugars or an excess of sugar. When larger amounts of sugar are consumed the body produces insulin which causes an uptake of the blood sugar into the cells. If a large dose of insulin is produced the glucose in the blood stream will fall suddenly producing hypoglycemia. This is particularly common in our culture because many of the foods that are readily available and desired by children have added sugar or are very high on the glycemic index meaning that they release glucose into the bloodstream very rapidly. These high glycemic index foods include most breakfast cereals and all breads and grain products that are made from refined flour. To avoid this: Increase protein sources in the diet. Protein and fat are like fuel rods in that they are converted to glucose slowly and provide a steady even source of sugar to the bloodstream.
Always eat carbohydrates in combination with fats and protein. Eat foods that are low on the glycemic index.
Foods that are High on the Glycemic Index/Rapid inducers of insulin O
Glycemic index standard greater than 100%:
Grain based foods: puffed rice, corn flakes, puffedwheat, millet, instant rice, instant potato, microwaved potato, French bread.
Simple sugars: Maltose, Glucose.
Snacks: tofu ice cream, puffed rice cakes.
Glycemic index standard 100% = white bread
Glycemic index standard 80-100%
Grain based foods: Grapenuts, whole wheat bread, rolled oats, oat bran, white rice, brown rice, Muesli, Shredded wheat.
Vegetables: carrots, parsnips, corn
Fruits: bananas, raisins, apricots, papaya, mango.
Snacks: low fat ice cream, corn chip, rye crisps.