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What to do When You Have Low Blood Sugar

It's a hot, sultry day. But you want to get some exercise. So you walk a neighborhood trail that has a very steep section. You're huffing and puffing and sweating, grateful for the fresh air and spiritual well-being of sauntering in the great outdoors.

But when you crest the steep hill, you become weak and you feel like you're going to faint. You've been in this situation plenty of times before, so it doesn't come as a surprise. The first time this happened though, you were scared. 

Now, because you have an insulin pump and/or a glucometer, you're at least prepared for this situation. But in a way, it's no less scary than the first time you remember the physiological reaction of dangerously low blood sugar levels and insufficient insulin to carry the blood sugar to the cells. 

You still perhaps feel like at best it's an annoying thing you have to put up with in this lifetime; at worst, it can be something that really can get you down, having to frequently monitor your levels and potentially experiencing energy fluctuations and mood swings because of diabetes. 

With a fainting spell perilously close at hand, you lie down on your back, on the dirty trail; it beats passing out and falling down hard. Luckily, your friend who knows your medical situation well, has an ice cold soda or juice in a backpack. 

Your friend helps you take a few sips. The sugar almost instantly brings you back to life. You feel more grounded, actually, you feel above grounded. When you have diabetes and suffer from well below blood sugar levels, grounded, as you've just experienced, can literally mean being knocked down on your butt. 

But the soda is helping you feel better. 

Your friend, who considers him/herself somewhat of a home-schooled nutrition expert also has a pack of mixed nuts and raisins. Your friend tells you that you should get some food in you and hands you the mixed nuts. "It's instant energy," your well-meaning friend says. 

The overwhelming amount of nutrition advice out there equates sugar with the devil. Sugar is pro-inflammatory, sugar leads to disease, sugar causes weight gain. Your hiking buddy understands this well and tells you that all that sugar in the can of soda is bad for you. 

"The soda has 35 grams per serving and if you drink the whole can quickly that sugar has nowhere to go but get stored by the liver as body fat," your friend tells you. 

And your friend would be right. It's best not to guzzle the whole can of soda or juice in one sitting. A few sips should be all it takes to get your blood sugar levels back to normal; of course you'll have to test to verify. 

But where your friend would be wrong is telling you to eat the mixed nuts. Nuts have fat. Fat slows down the release of insulin; your blood sugar levels won't rise as quickly and you'll still feel out of it. 

Go for the raisins if they're in the mixed nuts, but skip the nuts when your blood sugar level is low. Wait until your blood sugar levels have stabilized for a little while before you eat the fat. 

It's always wise to limit added sugars in the diet. But when your blood sugar levels are well below normal, it could be just what the doctor ordered. 

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