Hypoglycemia and Diabetes
"I have diabetes; do you make Vitalyte; without any sugar?" or "Can I drink Vitalyte if I am hypoglycemic?" These and other variations are among the most common questions I have about using Vitalyte and with good reason: people with diabetes and hypoglycemia have problems in controlling their blood-sugar levels and Vitalyte does contain sugar. They have found or heard that Vitalyte can be very effective in keeping them hydrated, but are concerned about the effect the sugar (glucose) will have on their blood sugar balance.
The problem lies not only with the amount of sugar, but also in the kind of sugar. Table sugar (sucrose), fructose, maltose, lactose, carbohydrates, even glucose polymers in energy drinks, must be digested and changed into glucose in the small intestines, where they are also absorbed into circulation and can be distributed for use or temporary storage in the liver or other areas of the body. These processes are regulated primarily by insulin secreted by the pancreas as demand dictates the level of glucose in the blood. If insulin secretion is erratic or insufficient, ingesting sugars or starches can send the blood sugar levels soaring and then, as the excess glucose is used up and/or excreted, dropping way below normal, both with discomforting to serious effects. Eating something with a lot of glucose, fructose, sucrose or honey (a mixture of glucose and fructose) dumps a lot of glucose into the blood at one time, as these are digested and absorbed very quickly; starches and larger glucose polymers are digested more slowly so the "jolt" isn't as severe, but lasts longer.
"O.K.; how does Vitalyte fit into this picture?" The sugar in Vitalyte is almost entirely glucose* which can be absorbed directly from the stomach into the blood; glucose is the only sugar that doesn't have to be digested, which sounds as if you're increasing the amount of sugar in the blood. However, the concentration of glucose is the same as the normal blood-sugar level, so you have the same kind and concentration of sugar as in the blood; this, plus the proper proportions of electrolytes means that you are adding to the blood volume at the same concentration as blood, neither diluting nor making any component more concentrated. If your blood-sugar level is low, Vitalyte, mixed as directed, can bring it up closer to normal; if it is too high, Vitalyte can bring the concentration down closer to normal.
It acts to moderate the blood-glucose levels. In classes for search and rescue and EMT teams, I have been asked if Vitalyte can be given to diabetics or people with hypoglycemia; physicians in the classes have been unanimous in stating that "this is the best thing for a diabetic with dehydration or blood sugar problems." I ask diabetics to check with their physicians to be sure that they can use it and, once they see the concentrations, every one has O.K.'d it.
I have been providing electrolyte and fluid replacement for players and spectators at a major tennis tournament in Indian Wells, near Palm Springs, and had some diabetics tell me of an interesting effect from using Vitalyte their legs and feet weren't nearly as swollen after a day of sitting and walking around. One lady who had been at the tournament all day said that the year before she had to be taken out in a wheelchair after only a half-day, and the pain was miserable. Since then, I have had several hundred similar reports and the relationship of Vitalyte to this effect is being studied by some of the major diabetes centers. Preliminary studies indicate that apparently the proportions of potassium and sodium are just right to enhance maintaining the water in circulation instead of in the tissues. Many diabetics and some hypoglycemics also have to watch their sodium intake and sodium pulls fluids into the tissues resulting in edema in the lower extremities. Watch for the latest on this and please let me know if you have noticed any of these effects.
*In all but the Citrus Drink, less than 2% of the glucose has been replaced with the same amount of fructose with no measurable effect on the absorption rate or the glycemic index Vitalyte has been known, used and tested for over thirty years as "Gookinaid E.R.G."