After I was discharged from active duty as a naval officer, my father told me that I had always wanted to be an attorney, and I believed him. I enrolled in law school in Sacramento California. During this time, my wife, RaNae, began experiencing terrible headaches almost daily. I took her to every doctor in Sacramento. Nothing helped. I truly thought she had something critical like a brain tumor.
One day RaNae was making me a sack lunch to take to school. She placed a sandwich, chips, and some fruit in the brown paper sack and then asked if I would like to take a drink also. I said that some milk would be good. She proceeded to take the milk bottle out of the refrigerator, and as I watched her, she poured the milk directly into the open sack. She then stood back and with a confused look said, “That’s not right.” I remember thinking “Duh,” and that she’d finally lost it.
I was playing in a local basketball league at the time, and one evening was getting ready for a practice. RaNae was having one of her terrible headaches; in fact it was so bad she was weeping. When my ride for practice came and honked, I ran out to the car and told him that my wife was not doing well and I’d better not leave her. He told me that he was a chiropractor and asked if he could take a look at her.
We went in and found RaNae sitting at the kitchen table with her head in her hands, weeping. My new friend asked her if she wanted him to do something to help her. She said, “Anything!”
He spent a few moments palpating her neck and said, “No wonder you’re suffering. Do you mind if I do something?”
She said, “Please help me.”
He manipulated her spine and I heard a snapping sound clear across the room. I thought he had broken my wife’s neck.
Within 30 seconds she said that it felt like a floodgate opened and all the pressure just flowed out. Within minutes she felt so good that I went on to basketball practice. My friend sent her in for a blood test which included a six hour glucose tolerance test. By the fourth hour her blood glucose plummeted to 45 mg%, which is borderline coma. She was subsequently diagnosed with hypoglycemia. We made the changes he recommended and she improved dramatically. The improvement in our lives was so wonderful that I dropped out of law school and went to chiropractic school so I could help people like we’d been helped.
Hypoglycemia, what’s that? Generally, hypoglycemia is a clinical syndrome brought about by a decrease in blood glucose, usually below 72 mg% where the commonly accepted norm is 80–120 mg%. It is basically the opposite of diabetes, but can be a precursor of it. It is often referred to as the “Sugar Blues.” Reactive hypoglycemia is caused by the excess secretion of insulin in response to simple carbohydrate intake. It is an over-reaction by the pancreas, which if not handled correctly can end up burning it out, and thus result in hyperglycemia or diabetes. Root causes are certain diseases, drugs, and a faulty diet over time.
Symptoms of hypoglycemia are very diverse and caused by denying the central nervous system of its fuel, glucose. They include headache, visual disturbances, anxiety, shakiness, irritability, fatigue, heart palpitations, confusion, impaired judgment, abnormal behavior, and in the more severe cases seizure and even loss of consciousness. When you go into a hypoglycemic state the body will crave a quick fix of sugar—like soda, caffeine, alcohol, candy, bread, or chips—which rapidly boosts the blood sugar thus spiking the insulin, putting you back into a hypoglycemic state. This accounts for many of our cravings.
The best way to deal with this problem is to balance the blood sugar by eating smaller meals more often, typically 4 or 5 times a day, and not skipping meals or fasting. A protein shake can account for a couple of the recommended meals daily. Snacking on something protein periodically throughout the day is also a good idea. As an example, 4–5 almonds supply all the protein a person at rest needs for about an hour. Protein turns to glucose very slowly which avoids the spike in insulin.
A diet that is high in natural fiber is also beneficial for a hypoglycemic person. Exercise influences the body to release less insulin. Avoid sugar, simple carbohydrates, and alcohol, but be aware that if you have been using these items regularly and stop abruptly you may experience a bout of withdrawals, which can make you feel worse for a short time.
So, if you find yourself inexplicably pouring your beverage into a paper sack, or if you have been experiencing the “blues,” it doesn’t have to be a life sentence. You can tame your pancreas with proper diet and exercise.