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Hypoglycemia

Agatha M. Thrash, M.D.
Preventive Medicine

Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) has two meanings: one, a condition in which the blood sugar drops below normal; the second, a degenerative disease, which is a part of a process of accelerated aging, the end stage of which is diabetes. While periods of low blood sugar are a part of the disease process in the beginning, eventually the blood sugar is maintained at a high level, even when fasting. The term "hypoglycemia" is an unfortunate one; "accelerated aging" would be better.

All of the chemicals in the blood have ideal levels. Most people function better, if the blood sugar goes no lower than 70 mg. in the fasting state, but a few points lower cannot be appreciated by the person immediately. As the blood sugar gets progressively lower, eventually, it reaches the point that symptoms occur. Sometime before one can sense it, the brain, liver, and muscles are surrounded by less nourishing blood than is ideal. These organs often suffer some degree of impairment from the temporary reduction in nourishment, resulting in unpleasantness during the next few days such as headache, symptoms of allergies, inability to concentrate, fatigue, and weakness.

As one ages, there are several physiological parameters that have a tendency to go up—blood pressure, pulse, cholesterol, triglycerides, fasting blood sugar, vitamin B-12 levels, urea, uric acid, etc. It is not a requirement of the aging process that these various factors rise in old age, but they are a sign that aging is occurring, and may begin in youth. In fact, different organs experience aging at different rates. The teeth get old even in childhood on a high sugar diet. The stomach ages with emotional stress. Unlike wrinkles on the skin, usually all of these factors can be reversed by changing the lifestyle, if one begins before structural damage to the organs occurs. The younger the age at which there is an elevation of these factors, the more likely it is that serious disability will result in early middle age. All of these changes are associated more with chronic degenerative disease, even cancer.

The use of concentrated foods also causes accelerated aging. We tend to like foods that have been manufactured, from boxed cereals and TV dinners, to soft drinks and whipped toppings. These foods generally contain a wallop of nutrients such as fat, sugar, salt, various vitamins and minerals—several times the amount that can be properly handled by the body in a whole day.

Even if one does not eat wrong kinds of foods, many people eat too much food. One should eat only what is needed to quench actual hunger. Never continue eating until the appetite is gone. With practice, one can learn the difference.

How can you prevent accelerated aging? The first thing to be achieved is that of keeping the blood levels of various chemicals within ideal range. "Ideal" and the "normal" may be two different things. Example: The way we determine "normal" cholesterol level in Americans is to send 5,000 "normal" people through the laboratory. Americans will average out at 150-300 mg/dL. That is the level obtained from a population in which 53% will die of heart attacks. If we go to a country where they have no heart attacks (there are some) and send 5,000 people through the laboratory we may get 50-100 mg/dL. Clearly, the "ideal" is far less than the "normal."

The ideal blood sugar level is probably around 70-85 mg/dL. A complex reaction causes the drop in blood sugar below the ideal of 70 mg/dL. Eating sweets causes at first a very high blood sugar; then the reaction comes. The pancreas overproduces insulin, resulting eventually in a low blood sugar. This process is especially likely to occur if the digestive tract is irritated, since irritation makes it become congested with blood. And it is able to dump its nutrients into the large stream of blood that flows through the congested lining.

To keep the blood sugar from being maintained at a high level even during fasting as it does with aging, one must avoid the excesses of life. If the fasting blood sugar is higher than ideal, start with reducing or even cutting out certain harmful items— free fats (margarine, mayonnaise, cooking oil, and fried foods), refined sugars, and all rich and concentrated foods. Since certain toxins are especially likely to damage the pancreas, avoid entirely alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine. Get daily exercise out-of-doors. Be regular in all your habits—meals, bedtime, exercise, study, work, and all other events that can be scheduled.

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