A common condition where the blood sugar levels are low is called hypoglycemia. There are two types of hypoglycemia. One is reactive hypoglycemia, which is caused by excessive secretion of insulin and takes place usually after someone eats a meal. And, the other is functional or spontaneous hypoglycemia, which occurs during the meal. These two types of hypoglycemia can develop because of hypothyroidism, insulin resistance, weak adrenals, and many other conditions.
Commonly, when someone who is diagnosed with hypoglycemia, their blood test shows that their level is below 70 mg/dl. However, sometimes the blood test will fall under normal range even when that person is showing hypoglycemia symptoms. Hypoglycemia can occur in diabetic patients when they skip meals or take too much insulin. Hypoglycemia also occurs in people with thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions.
Symptoms of Hypoglycemia
Some common symptoms of hypoglycemia include a constant feeling of hunger, convulsion or shaking, double vision (sometimes), headaches, rapid heartbeat, brain fog, etc. These symptoms usually improve after eating a meal. Some of these symptoms are common in hyperthyroidism as well. Hence, it is always a good idea to study the blood sugar level of people with thyroid conditions and perform a glucose tolerance test to determine the presence of hypoglycemia.
But in some cases, even after a person’s blood tests are normal, he/she may display symptoms of hypoglycemia. There are several such cases that a person’s blood test will be normal and will respond well to nutritional supplements and dietary changes as people who have been tested positive for hypoglycemia.
Causes of Hypoglycemia
A person’s diet plays a crucial role in hypoglycemia. If he/she eats sugars and refined foods frequently, it will have some effect on the blood sugar level. When someone eats food that is refined, it causes an upsurge in the insulin hormone, thereby causing the blood sugar level to spike up.
Cortisol is then secreted by the adrenal gland that causes the blood sugar level to come down to normal. If that person continues his/her refined food diet, it puts a strain on the pancreas and the adrenal glands that eventually leads to hypoglycemia. Skipping meals can also lead to hypoglycemia.
Another major reason that leads to hypoglycemia is a deficiency of chromium mineral. Chromium helps the body in breaking down protein, fats, carbohydrates, etc. and utilizes the insulin in a proper way. Deficiency in chromium affects the breakdown of these nutrients and the utilization of insulin.
Hence, if someone is suffering from hypoglycemia due to lack of chromium in the body, this deficiency can be remedied by eating foods that are rich in chromium. But, if someone is suffering from a severe deficiency, then that person may require supplementation as well.
The relationship between hypoglycemia and hypothyroid conditions
Studies suggest that hypoglycemia is not only caused by nutritional deficiencies and poor diet. These factors can also lead to the development of many autoimmune conditions of the thyroid. Hence, it is of utmost importance that sugars and refined foods diet should be minimized and whole foods should be eaten.
In rare cases, a person suffering from Grave’ Disease (hyperthyroidism) may develop hypoglycemia; developing hypoglycemia is more common when someone is suffering from Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (hypothyroidism). According to studies, this is because the thyroid gland helps in the stimulation of gluconeogenesis. Hence, a deficiency of the thyroid hormone will affect gluconeogenesis secretion.
Adrenals play an important role in balancing the blood sugar levels that occur due to epinephrine and cortisol hormone. Therefore, weak adrenal glands can slow down the thyroid gland and lead to hypoglycemia. This is one reason why people with hyperthyroidism develop hypoglycemia because people who suffer from hyperthyroid conditions have weaker adrenal glands too.
Another high-likely reason why a person with hypothyroid conditions is more prone to developing hypoglycemia is that the thyroid gland affects the liver. A damaged liver can lead to hypoglycemia because excess glucose gets stored in the liver and if the liver is unable to function properly, the glucose storage function gets affected. Additionally, consumption of alcohol can prevent the liver from releasing the glucose stored, which also leads to hypoglycemia.
For correcting hypoglycemia, one needs to find out the root cause of the problem. Usually, this problem is solved by making dietary changes. Therefore, if someone is suffering from hypoglycemia and eats a lot of sugar and refined foods, the first step would be to minimize the consumption of these foods.
If hypoglycemia is due to an extreme deficiency in chromium, a supplementary with chromium might be necessary, besides a chromium-rich food diet. Reducing excess alcohol consumption can also help in avoiding hypoglycemia.
While making changes in dieting patterns can help in correcting hypoglycemia, there are many other factors that need to be considered as well. Sometimes, you might need to use additional adrenal support if your adrenals are weak. For someone with extremely low cortisol levels, herbs like Rehmannia and Licorice may be necessary.
In the case of a compromised liver, a liver detoxification will help greatly. Sometimes, it may be challenging to restore the health back. But in the case of both hypothyroid/hyperthyroid conditions and hypoglycemia, the key to correcting these problems lies in detection and immediately correcting the root cause of the problem.