Kai - Understanding that my blood sugar was funky transformed my life in 2 weeks. I'm rail thin and my body is thermally inefficient, throwing off lots of heat all the time. As such, I've always leaned towards the hypoglycaemic. When you add persistent stress to an already finicky blood sugar balance, I was all over the place. The stress spiked/crashed my blood sugar and then I ate stuff that continued to amplify the spikes which lead to spectacular crashing.
Think I mentioned it above, but if anyone is getting anxious & panicky and they think it might have some nutritional component, then check Potatoes Not Prozac. I love this book because the info changed my life rapidly & dramatically as well as keeping me out of therapy and off medication. Obviously, that's not going to be the case for everyone, but I always recommend it to people because there may be simple steps they can employ that potentially, can have a huge impact. Having read this book and understood the patterns I had, I realized that they were also present in other members of my family. That was especially useful to know.
I've known for a long time that I have a tendency to go hypoglycemic, but it wasn't till last week that I started seeing massive spiking as well. I've known the anger/irritation connection, but hadn't considered stress as well.
I've distinctly noticed that, while most kinds of fruit and bread spike my blood sugar, potatoes and oats don't. I'm kind of disinclined to take dietary advice from anyone except my doctor right now, but what you have said of that book makes sense in my experience.
The stress response will spike the blood sugar. Here's some notes from a presentation I do on stress management:
1. Hypothalamus and pituitary, the body’s master gland, trigger the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism.
2. Pupils of your eyes widen to let in more light.
3. Mouth becomes dry as saliva production shuts down.
4. Heart rate quickens to increase blood supply to the muscles.
5. Breathing speeds up to increase oxygen intake.
6. Sugar and fat is released from the liver for energy.
7. Muscles tense ready for action and release lactic acid into the bloodstream.
8. Blood leaves the frontal lobes of the brain and digestive organs.
9. Sweating increases and temperature falls.
10. Adrenal glands release stress hormones, adrenaline and noradrenalin.
11. Subcutaneous fat is released into the blood stream to provide more energy.
12. Bowels and kidneys decrease output so body is ready for action.
13. Blood sugar rises, pulse rate increases, blood pressure rises, and calcium is metabolized.
14. Too much sugar in the system. Hyperglycemic alarm.
15. Pancreas releases insulin to balance blood sugar level.
16. Blood sugar level drops suddenly.
17. Shocks the system.
18. Converts sugars to fats.
19. Can form gallstones and lines the arteries.
20. Mental processes affected behavioral change.
21. Aggression, confusion, depression.
22. Structural faults develop through reflex muscle imbalance.
Our 'stress response' evolved to be a short term reply to immediate physical threat. You're walking along, you see a lion or whatever in your peripheral vision and voila - you either fight the lion, escape the lion or get eaten (or a combination of all three!). The quirky devil that is 'mother nature' made us one of the only animals to persistently trigger our alarm mechanism, not by external, short term, physical threats but by psychologically dwelling on 'possible threats'. When triggered periodically, it's not an issue. The trouble lay in persistently firing the response and having no useful outlet for it. This causes a problematic adaptation - our sympathetic alarm system gets triggered too often for too long and then has problem getting back into a normal state.
What you described re: food is exactly what I learned from the book. As a kid I used to eat poorly and be really into sugar. What I discovered later was that I wasn't getting enough protein and that I needed to take carbohydrates in more complex forms that didn't break down as fast. Simple carbs will spike the blood sugar more readily in hypoglycaemics than it will in other people. I avoid sugary things, anything with a lot of white & refined flours because they seem to shock the body in the same way. I cut my caffeine intake and I never EVER drink coffee on an empty stomach.
Whole grains, brown bread, spuds etc break down a lot slower and obviously, no one ever got a sugar hit out of broccoli! Here's a useful tip from the book that I've used for years. Check the nutrition label of any food you pick up. Look at the part that says 'Carbohydrate' and then look at the part that says 'of which is sugar'. If the second number is more than 1/3 of the total carb amount, it's got too many simple carbs and it's liable to spike you.
I don't blame you for being wary about dietary advice. I was too because there's a lot of stupid books out there, especially ones geared towards weight loss. I don't think there's anything in the book that would conflict with your Drs advice or your scientific sensibilities
The problem is also that many Drs. have their own pet project they turn into books, that ends up being their end all solution to all dietary needs ever. Which means that most dietary books contradict each other in some way. Here you see you should limit your animal protein and fat intake. Here, no, it's the sugar from fruits and breads you need to limit. Here, beans are excellent for you. Here, beans are to be avoided. And you have the followers, who preach the goodness of that diet as if it were religion. So, I'm going to run self experiments. I have a relatively good handle on what's going on in my body if I pay attention. And I have a glucose tester. So, what I have to do is follow the Buddha's advice and test these claims, throwing out the stuff that doesn't work. Since everyone's tolerance is different, I have to self-tailor my diet. Otherwise I end up with something that doesn't fit right.
What I've found so far is, caffeine is an issue (even green tea). As is not sleeping well or enough. Alcohol, in the evening, is not, as long as it's low in sugar; I shouldn't drink beer but red wine is more than fine. Butter is like a godsend. It has a lot of calories but it's almost all fat, which burns slow, and doesn't spike my blood sugar at all. I can't do bananas, or other sweet fruits (even some apples), but blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries are just fine. Whole wheat bread and buckwheat noodles are fine as long as I eat spaced out small portions, but any more than that and it's too much. Water is a funny one. If I keep my blood sugar low, I can get by on drinking a liter of water a day. But if it's high, I need 2 or 3 times that amount. This isn't counting the water I get from foods. Brown Rice: I can eat a bunch of it and it doesn't bother me at all, especially with the collard greens I'm usually eating along with it.
And some of the above probably won't work for most other people.