The beta cells of our pancreas produce the hormone insulin. Insulin helps us absorb glucose, our main source of energy, from our bloodstream. When our body produces excessive insulin, it leads to hyperinsulinemia. According to Dr. Linda Steinkrauss in the Journal of Pediatric Nursing, “Children with congenital hyperinsulinism are at risk for recurring, severe episodes of hypoglycemia that can cause seizures, brain damage, and developmental delay." In adults, it can lead to headaches, emotional instability, coma and death. Diet is a key element in maintaining our blood sugar levels, especially in this condition.
The most common symptom of hyperinsulinemia is hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar level. Therefore, the main goal of diet therapy is to maintain a normal random blood sugar level (60 to 120 milligrams/deciliter) at all times. To do so, break your meals into six equal portions, or have three meals with three proper snacks in between. Make sure you do not overeat in doing so, and stick to your calorie limits.
According to a study conducted by Dr. Todd Kellogg in July 2008, when patients suffering from hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemia are given a high carbohydrate diet, their blood sugar levels elevate to dangerous levels (hyperglycemia) and then rapidly return to the state of hypoglycemia. On the other hand, patients on a low carbohydrate diet demonstrate little changes and feel significant improvement. Hence, you should follow a diet low in carbohydrates, especially simple carbohydrates like sugar. Consume complex carbohydrates with a low glycemic index (rate of absorption) like whole grain cereals, whole wheat breads, porridge, parboiled rice and vegetables with their skin on. Substitute low-fat dairy products in place of regular ones for the same reason. Eat apples, pears and plums with the skins for a high fiber intake. Avoid baked potatoes, rice, pasta, pretzels and watermelons at all costs. Get your proteins from lean meats only and poultry cooked without the skin. Beans, peas and chickpeas are high in fiber as well as protein. A study by Dr. Edith Feskens published in the American Journal of Epidemiology shows that a high intake of fats, saturated and monosaturated fatty acids and alcohol are associated with hyperinsulinemia. Avoid fried foods and butter, cheese and whole milk products. Do not snack on chips, potato fries and other foods that contain trans fats. Try to have as little oil as possible.
Severe hyperinsulinemia hypoglycemia is a medical emergency. Immediately consume fast-acting carbohydrates like glucose, sugar or fruit juice. Glucagon injections are administered to those who become unconscious. Contact the doctor as soon as possible.