Low blood glucose levels on blood tests is something I have seen from time to time in children on the Autism spectrum. Glucose is a fuel source, in the form of simple sugar, that our body and brain need to function appropriately. And while most test results come back in the normal range, which is between 80 and 100, occasionally they do come back higher, 105 to 110, and periodically I do see them in the 60’s.
Hypoglycemia or low blood glucose, can be a temporary issue or it can be an ongoing, debilitating issue. Of course people with diabetes have the situation where their blood sugar goes very high and then goes very low when they have imbalances in insulin. Low blood sugar can impact many things in an individual including cognition, attention, focusing, it can even affect behavior and mood. If you see that your child gets moody throughout the day when they don’t eat frequently, they may have reactive hypoglycemia or low blood sugar issues.
Now there are quite a few things you can do to help. One of the simplest things to do is to make sure your child is eating enough and eating frequently. This is especially true during times of growth spurts and their appetites have changed and they need more food. A snack is needed when there is a long stretch in the day between meals, like 3 to 4 hours. If your child goes to school then the school should be notified that your child requires a snack every half hour to every 2 hours to maintain their blood sugar level. Adults can do the same thing, just eat smaller meals more frequently. Another important thing is to stay away from many sweet treats and juices with lots of sugar. Insulin is released is response to the sugar and then you get a drop in blood sugar which can be problematic.
So really it comes down to balancing more carbohydrates with fats and oils and proteins to appropriately maintain blood sugar. Dietary interventions can also be very helpful to aid with insulin sensitivity. The mineral chromium can be helpful at 100 to 200 micrograms per day. And a multi-vitamin, multi-mineral and antioxidant supplement can also be helpful too.
But really the focus should be cutting back sugar, balancing proteins, balancing carbohydrates, balancing fats and balancing simple and complex sugars. Snacks in the morning and afternoon between meals allows your child to eat more frequently and that is helpful as well. So if you see this kind of behavior, big fluctuations with mood, focusing or attention, you may be seeing the manifestation of a blood sugar problem. And basically, your child just needs to eat.