“I think I’m low again,” said my wife Nicole a few days ago.
“Again?” I said heading for the kitchen.
Snap! Nicole pricked her finger. Beep! The glucomter read out 2.1mmol/L (37mg/dL).
“What going on?” I said aloud. I started warming some spring water on the stove top.
Taking injected insulin for type-1 diabetes usually only drops Nicole below 3.6mmol/L (64mg/dL) once or twice a week. But this was the third time in two days.
I took the carrot and beet juice powders out of the fridge. “You have a cold,” I said. “Usually that makes your blood sugar higher than usual.”
“I think it’s the Buteyko Mini Pauses,” she replied sitting down at the dining room table.
As I mentioned last time, we were both practicing a technique for clearing nasal congestion. Invented by the Ukrainian doctor, Konstantin Buteyko, it involves doing 100 small breath holds in 30 minutes. Inhale. Exhale. Pinch the nose. And repeat. Yes, first Buteyko teaches you to breathe with your mouth closed. Then he teaches you to breathe with both your mouth and nose closed…
“That makes sense,” I replied. I carefully measured two tablespoons of vegetable powder. “100 breath holds will raise the CO2 in your blood. This makes the blood vessels dilate. That, in turn, allows insulin to circulate better.”
And circulate better it was. Nicole dropped about 2mmol/L (36mg/dL) in 30 minutes. That would have been nice if her blood sugar was high. In fact, many of my coaching clients use another breath holding technique while walking to correct high blood sugars in the same way.
So, be forewarned, check your blood sugar levels before trying any of the Buteyko Breathing exercises. Treat them like physical exercise. If you’re within your target range, you may want to take some sugar beforehand. If you’re high… well then, enjoy the express train to insulin perfusion.
I handed Nicole the glass of warm beet and carrot juice mixed with a 1/8 teaspoon of Himalayan salt. “Next time, let’s give you the juice before you do the exercises.”
Thinking outside the type-1 matrix,
–John C. A. Manley
P.S. Before Nicole adopted a low-carb diet, a 2.1 mmol/L blood sugar could leave her unconscious. At best she’d be a covered with sweat, dangerously confused and as tipsy as a new born giraffe. Now that she’s normalized her HgbA1C, a low blood sugar isn’t incapacitating, just unpleasant. Next post, I’ll share a 2-minute interview with Nicole while her blood is actually 2.1mmol/L (37mg/dL). Until then, you may like to read: 3 Natural Ways to Stop Type-1 Hypoglycaemic Episodes
P.P.S. For more on why breathing retraining is probably the most valuable (and overlooked) tool for people with type-1 diabetes, I highly recommend Breathing Slower and Less by Dr. Artour Rakhimov. Available from amazon.com, amazon.ca and amazon.co.uk.