I think we all agree that fixing low blood sugars as quickly as possible without rebound high blood sugars or deleterious health effects is a solid strategy. Therefore, reaching for a piece of fruit, a snicker bar, or a juice box may not be the best way to manage hypoglycemia. What follows are three reasons why glucose tablets may be superior to sugar rich foods and beverages when attempting to correct low blood sugar with type 1 diabetes.
- Glucose tablets provide accurate amounts of the type of sugar your body needs most during a hypoglycemic event. I use 4g tablets made by Dex4. One of these chewable tablets will raise my blood sugar 15-20 mg/dL in 15 minutes. If my blood sugar is 50, I know I can put it into the 80’s with two tablets in roughly 15 minutes. Sugary foods, by contrast, have a combination of glucose, fructose, fiber, protein, and fat which may take too much precious time to metabolize when blood sugar is dangerously low. In addition, the amount of glucose in sugary foods isn’t clear which means it’s also unclear how much to eat of such a food to raise blood sugar back into you target range.
- Sugary foods and beverages often contain many gut irritants like grains and dairy which cause inflammation. Inflammatory foods make blood sugar control impossible.
- Sugary foods and beverages contain fructose which is a known toxin. Fructose has been shown to raise risk factors for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Glucose, on the other hand, does not raise risk factors of heart disease or type 2 diabetes.
Glucose tablets contain a measured amount of a relatively safe monosaccharide that will raise blood sugar levels in a fairly linear and predictable way and do it quickly. Sugary foods and beverages may get digested too slowly, do not contain clear amounts of glucose, and may contain inflammatory and toxic ingredients like grains, dairy, and fructose. Since low blood sugars are part of life for people with type 1 diabetes, we should consider the use of glucose tablets instead of sugary foods and beverages.