By Dean L. Jones, CPM
Growing up is tough and it is really harsh when your blood sugar fluctuates below or above safe levels, especially when you do not even know that it is occurring. Unprovoked anger is common when the levels get low and when real meals are limited anger and fighting will undoubtedly ensue. Think about your middle school days when the body was rapidly growing and the number of fights that took place versus those in elementary school and high school. Our bodies were fighting off greater hunger due in part to the new need in more energy that we had yet to experience.
Whenever a person’s blood sugar (glucose present in the blood stream) is low the hypothalamus is triggered and levels of growth and other hormones are affected. This produces an imbalance and shifts the body’s neurotransmitters and suppresses serotonin receptors. Serotonin is a hormone that helps regulate mood and appetite. Any time our body is cut off from the ability to process serotonin some serious mood swings will ensue, as serotonin deprivation will spark anger and/or extreme frustration.
Doctors measure a normal individual’s blood sugar level under different circumstances. There is the fasting blood sugar or blood glucose levels taken six to eight hours after the last meal. This is familiar to those who have been scheduled for an operation or medical testing procedure where no food is suggested to see if the normal range of 70 to 100 milligrams per deciliter is present. After a meal, blood sugar generally rises and in a normal individual, but it usually does not get above a 135 to 140 milligrams per deciliter. Consequently, there is a fairly narrow range of blood sugar throughout the entire day.
People suffering from diabetes commonly have both low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia), or elevated blood sugars (hyperglycemia). When the blood sugar drops below about 60 or 65 milligrams per deciliter, people will generally get symptoms, which are some shakiness, feeling of hunger, maybe a little racing of the heart and they will usually give off a forceful attitude, unless they are able to eat something to raise their blood sugar level, these warning signs go right away.
However, more serious is if a person’s blood sugar drops below 50, then there is a progressive loss of mental function and eventually unconsciousness and seizures. This is very dangerous and a medical emergency. On the other side, if blood sugar gets up above 180 to 200, then it exceeds the capacity of the kidneys to reabsorb the glucose and that is where the body begins to spill glucose into the urine. If it gets way up high, up in the 400s or even 500s, it can be associated with some alteration in mental function as well. The moral of this story is to eat real meals, everyday.
Dean Jones, Ethics Advocate, Southland Partnership Corporation (a public benefit organization), contributes his view on health attributes of packaged foods & beverages.