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Protein and Hypoglycemia

author image Esther Kinuthia RN BSN BA
Esther Kinuthia is a registered nurse with extensive experience in health and wellness. She holds a B.S. in nursing, B.A in psychology and has worked for more than ten years in the health-care field. She enjoys writing articles on a variety of topics for the Internet. Her work has been published in various websites.
Protein and Hypoglycemia
Diabetes blood test Photo Credit: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Hypoglycemia occurs when the blood glucose level is too low. Blood glucose level below 70 milligrams per deciliter is considered too low and could cause harm, according to PubMedHealth. Hypoglycemia is more common in patients with diabetes, and can be caused by not eating enough and taking too much insulin and oral anti-diabetic drugs. Patients at high risk for hypoglycemia are advised to consume high-protein foods and complex carbohydrates to prevent hypoglycemia.

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High Proteins and Hypoglycemia

Lean meat
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Patients with hypoglycemia should consume high-protein foods and complex carbohydrates because these foods take long to be digested, thereby preventing sudden drops and spikes in blood sugar levels, according to McKinley Health Center at the University of Illinois. Glucose from digested proteins and complex carbohydrates is also released into the bloodstream gradually, which helps to regulate blood glucose levels. Consumption of simple carbohydrates is discouraged in patients with hypoglycemia because simple carbs such as table sugar only increase blood sugar for a few minutes. Examples of high-protein foods suitable for patients at risk for hypoglycemia include lean meat, fish, poultry, low fat milk and legumes.

Symptoms of Hypoglycemia

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There are numerous symptoms of hypoglycemia and they include sweating, confusion, vision problems, irritability, hunger, fast heart rate, headache, nervousness, shaking, insomnia, weakness, tingling and numbness of the skin, malaise, convulsions, dizziness, hallucinations, memory loss, paleness and muscle pain. According to the American Diabetes Association, a loss of consciousness may even occur. Some diabetics may not notice these symptoms of hypoglycemia. In order to avoid hypoglycemia, blood glucose levels should monitored regularly.

Treatment of Hypoglycemia

Hard candy
Hard candy Photo Credit: Richard Hobson/iStock/Getty Images

Patients with diabetes are advised to carry glucose tablets, hard candies or fruit juice to treat hypoglycemia in emergency situations. If patients notice symptoms of hypoglycemia, or when blood glucose levels are below 70 milligrams per deciliter, they should consume foods containing simple carbohydrates -- glucose tablets, candy and fruit juice -- immediately so as to cause an immediate increase in blood glucose levels. A balanced meal containing complex carbohydrates and proteins should be consumed afterwards to stabilize blood sugar levels. Patients with severe hypoglycemia are treated with glucagon and glucose injections.

Complications of Hypoglycemia

Follow your doctor's advice
Follow your doctor's advice Photo Credit: Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images

Untreated hypoglycemia can cause several complications. Low blood glucose levels leads to loss of consciousness, seizures, coma and permanent damage to the nervous system, according to PubMedHealth. The brain depends on glucose to function normally and low blood glucose levels can lead to brain damage. Patients with diabetes should follow their doctor's advice regarding proper diet, medication and exercise to prevent hypoglycemia.

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