When we think about carbohydrates, most of us think in terms of crackers, chips, bread, and sugars – what are known as simple or “fast-releasing” carbs. However, there are carbohydrates that are complex and “slow-releasing” and they come in the form of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and lentils. Of the three classes of foods necessary for health and life, carbohydrates are probably the most important because they are what convert to energy in our bodies. Protein and fat, the other two parts of the food classification, metabolize slowly while carbohydrates metabolize more quickly. Simple carbohydrates, those that are fast-releasing, tend to give us a quick burst of energy followed by a slump. Since most simple carbs are refined foods like sugar and flour and lack vitamins and minerals necessary for proper assimilation into the body, they should be avoided. When complex carbs are ingested, the body knows exactly how to utilize them and gradually releases their potential energy. The added value is that complex carbohydrates also have the vitamins and minerals necessary for proper digestion and metabolism and fiber to keep the system running smoothly.
Fibromyalgia and Hypoglycemia
One of the most common conditions in people suffering with fibromyalgia (FM) is hypoglycemia which is the body’s inability to maintain normal sugar levels. In order for the body to have adequate and sustained energy, blood sugar levels need to remain steady. When they drop, as is the case with hypoglycemia, then brain and organ function suffers. The phrase “fibroglycemia” has been coined by some doctors because most people suffering with fibromyalgia are also hypoglycemic. Theoretically, FM is a nutrition/cellular problem and as such can be addressed effectively with diet, nutrition, exercise, and stress control.
What Happens When Blood Sugar is Out of Whack
Eating whole complex carbohydrates allows the body to break the foods down over a period of several hours (as opposed to a sudden burst that comes with simple carbs). As the foods are broken down slowly, glucose from the foods is absorbed into the bloodstream and works to maintain the blood glucose (sugar) level. When too much sugar, in the form of refined or simple carbs is absorbed into the body, the pancreas works overtime to produce insulin to deal with the sugar. The end result is a swift and sudden drop in blood sugar to lows that are not healthy. Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, carries with it the following problems:
· Cravings for sugary and starchy foods
· Mood swings
· Inability to concentrate
· Heart palpitations and panic attacks
How You Can Control Blood Sugar
For individuals dealing with fibromyalgia, all of these symptoms are part and parcel of their condition. That is why it is important for FM sufferers to ensure their blood sugar levels remain constant. Glucose stores deplete overnight, which means that breakfast is an important meal and necessary to maintain proper blood sugar levels. When you skip breakfast, or eat a breakfast that consists of sugary and starchy foods, the net result is a day of highs and lows, inability to concentrate and distraction. Skipping breakfast also puts a lot of stress on the adrenal glands and on the pancreas which leads to hypoglycemia and eventually to diabetes. If you have chronic hypoglycemia it is a clear indication that your organs are overworked and exhausted. The good news is that the condition is redeemable by:
· Eating a diet of nutritious, whole foods
· Combining a balance of protein, fat, and carbs
· Eating several small, balanced meals throughout the day rather than a couple of big meals
· Including nutritional supplementation as needed to ensure balanced nutrition
By understanding that different carbohydrates affect the body’s ability to balance blood sugar differently, you can learn which foods are best suited for health. It is possible to lessen some of the negative effects of FM by eating a diet that does not strain the pancreas and adrenal glands.