Hypoglycemia and Addiction

Hypoglycemia and Addiction: Is There a Connection?

Hope for Addiction…

Hypoglycemia is a condition characterized by low blood sugar levels in the body and brain. Refined carbohydrates – such as sugar speed up the absorption of tryptophan through the production of insulin. High levels of insulin absorb amino acids and glucose and make room for the absorption of tryptophan. The tryptophan is converted into serotonin in the presence of Vitamin B6. Then, we become happy, positive, and sleep better. Addiction to alcohol and drugs interferes with this process.

This can explain why when in recovery from addiction there is a huge demand for refined carbohydrates especially in the form of sugar. This rise in blood sugar is quick and so is the crash. When blood sugar levels crash the brain goes into a panic mode. It triggers the adrenal gland to produce adrenaline. The adrenaline triggers the liver to increase its glucose production and the pancreas to release glucagons, another hormone that increases blood glucose.

Glucose is the only fuel used by the brain. The neural tissue of the brain does not readily store glucose, so for normal functioning, the brain depends upon a steady supply. As blood glucose levels drop, as in hypoglycemia, the cortex and other brain areas with a high metabolic rate are affected first. Symptoms such as dizziness, confusion, weakness, and hunger are early symptoms.  If prolonged for too long convulsions and coma can occur.

This spike in blood sugar and its resultant crash does not occur when the body is supplied with protein, and complex carbohydrates such as vegetables, rice, grains, whole fruits, and beans. With these foods, blood levels remain even (and so does mood) because they take longer to metabolize. Cravings are associated with blood glucose levels spiking and dropping, which in turn often result in poor impulsive food choices.

A suggested general nutritional treatment plan for hypoglycemia and alcohol and drug addiction is: avoid sugar, coffee, nicotine, and refined carbohydrates such as white bread/rice, cakes/candy, and sugary drinks.  Eat 3 meals a day plus two snacks of high protein (eggs, chicken, fish, meat, nuts, seeds) plus complex carbohydrates (green vegetables, fruits, grains, beans). Supplement your diet with vitamin B-complex (including B6, B3, B12), chromium picolinate, magnesium, zinc, Vitamin C, and omega-3 fatty acids.

This diet aims at normalizing blood sugar levels, and normalizing stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol that are thought to be responsible for the symptoms of mood-swings, depression, anxiety, phobias, alcoholism, and drug-addiction. It will also help to keep cravings at bay during recovery recognizing, for example, that the reach for that next drink is, in addition to neurotransmitter deficiencies, likely the consequence of unstable circulating glucose levels and their associated poor moods.

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