One thing I’ve seen from time to time, with respects to blood tests, for children on the Autism spectrum, is actually low blood glucose. Now glucose is the simple sugar that our body needs as a fuel source, and our brain in particular needs glucose in order to function appropriately. Most of the time the tests are normal, levels are between 80 to 100. Occasionally, a level might come back slightly high 105, 110, but periodically I will see blood glucose levels dropping down into the 60’s.
Now, low blood glucose, also known as hypoglycemia, can be a transient issue, or it can be a chronic debilitating problem. Certainly individuals who have diabetes can have a tendency to get really high levels of blood sugar, and then dangerously low levels of blood sugar when they start to have imbalances in insulin. Low blood sugar issues can certainly contribute to a lot of different things cognitively, can effect attention, can effect focusing, it can effect behavior, it can effect mood. So if you have a tendency or have seen a tendency with your child, where they get very moody will get throughout the day if they don’t eat frequently enough, you may be dealing with their reactive hypoglycemia i.e. low blood sugar type of problem.
Now, here’s a number of different ways of dealing with this. One of the quickest things you can do is just make sure your child is eating enough and eating frequently enough. Particularly when kids are going through a growth spurt, many times their appetite will change and they just need more food. So if there’s long stretches in the day sometimes 3 or 4 hours where they’re not eating anything they clearly need a snack. If they’re at school, you need to let the school know that their child need to have some type of snack maybe every half hour, every two hours in order to keep their blood sugar up. And same thing with adults, it’s just eating smaller meals more frequently. The other thing is staying away from a lot of sweet treats and high sugar juices. The sugar tends to raise blood glucose, the insulin is released, and you get a drop in blood sugar, and that can be a problem.
So it is simply getting down to just balancing more carbohydrates, fats, and oils as well as protein, in order to maintain blood sugar more appropriately. There’s a number of things that can be done from a dietary standpoint, chromium is the mineral that can help with insulin sensitivity it’s been used many times to help with blood sugar imbalances, 100 to 200 micrograms a day is usually sufficient for that. And then making sure you child is getting an adequate multi-vitamin multi-mineral antioxidant that’s helpful as well.
But, the bottom line is really cutting back on the sugar, balancing protein, balancing fats, balancing simple and complex sugars, and letting them eat more frequently; snack in the middle of the morning, snack in the mid afternoon, between breakfast and lunch, and lunch and dinner respectively, can be very very helpful. So again, if you see this type of erratic behavior, where these wide fluctuations in mood or attention and focusing, you may be dealing with a blood sugar problem. Simply put, that your child just needs to eat.
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