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Why Does Alcohol Cause Blood Sugar To Drop?

Diabetes And Alcohol

Diabetes And Alcohol

If you have diabetes, drinking alcohol may cause your blood sugar to either rise or fall. Plus, alcohol has a lot of calories. If you drink, do it occasionally and only when your diabetes and blood sugar level are well-controlled. If you are following a calorie-controlled meal plan, one drink of alcohol should be counted as two fat exchanges. It is a good idea to check with your doctor to see if drinking alcohol is safe for you. Here are some other ways that alcohol can affect diabetes: While moderate amounts of alcohol may cause blood sugar to rise, excess alcohol can actually decrease your blood sugar level -- sometimes causing it to drop into dangerous levels, especially for people with type 1 diabetes. Beer and sweet wine contain carbohydrates and may raise blood sugar. Alcohol stimulates your appetite, which can cause you to overeat and may affect your blood sugar control. Alcoholic drinks often have a lot of calories, making it more difficult to lose excess weight. Alcohol may also affect your judgment or willpower, causing you to make poor food choices. Alcohol can interfere with the positive effects of oral diabetes medicines or insulin. Alcohol may increase triglyceride levels. Alcohol may increase blood pressure. Alcohol can cause flushing, nausea, increased heart rate, and slurred speech. These may be confused with or mask the symptoms of low blood sugar. People with diabetes who drink should follow these alcohol consumption guidelines: Do not drink more than two drinks of alcohol in a one-day period if you are a man, or one drink if you are a woman. (Example: one alcoholic drink = 5-ounce glass of wine, 1 1/2-ounce "shot" of liquor or 12-ounce beer). Drink alcohol only with food. Drink slowly. Avoid "sugary" mixed drinks, sweet wines, or cordials. Mix liquor Continue reading >>

Touchy Topics

Touchy Topics

A comprehensive guide to all the sticky situations that arise when you’re a college student with diabetes. Have a question that isn't answered here? Ask our student advice columnists (anonymously) and we'll get it answered for you. Type 1 diabetes is sometimes linked to another autoimmune disease called Celiac Disease. Alcohol It’s no surprise that drinking happens on campuses all over the country. If you plan on drinking while at school, make sure you understand how to do it safely with diabetes. Check out our FAQ below, which includes many of the common questions young adults have regarding drinking, and make sure to check out our partners at Drinking with Diabetes for additional information. FAQs We know it’s hard to bring up certain questions in the doctor’s office. But often, the hard questions are the ones we most need answers to. Below is an exhaustive list of questions you might be thinking about, but may or may not have asked a healthcare professional. If your question isn’t here, we’re happy to help – send it along, and we’ll get it answered. The information below is not meant to replace the advice of your healthcare team. Individual responses to diabetes management approaches can vary considerably. Speak with your physician before making any changes to your therapy. Answers courtesy of Gary Scheiner MS (T1D since 1985!), CDE and his team at IDS. How can I tell the difference between being low and being drunk? And being low while drunk? Being drunk and being low can look the same. And both conditions can severely impair your judgment as well as your ability to function. Intoxication, however, does not usually cause the “shaking/sweating/rapid heartbeat” associated with hypoglycemia. Unfortunately, drinking can actually suppress these sympto Continue reading >>

Drinking Alcohol & Blood Glucose Level

Drinking Alcohol & Blood Glucose Level

Blood glucose levels, also known as blood sugar levels, can be influenced by alcohol consumption. Interestingly enough, though, different amounts of alcohol can have opposite effects on blood sugar. While moderate amounts of alcohol can create a rise in blood sugar, excessive alcohol consumption can cause blood sugar levels to drop to dangerously low levels. These effects, however, are mostly associated with diabetics. Blood glucose can come from three sources: diet, stored glucose and glucose made by the body from other nutrients. The two key hormones that are necessary in regulating blood glucose levels are insulin and glucagon. When blood sugar drops, the body reacts by producing more, and when blood sugar rises, the body releases insulin to maintain balance. Alcohol can affect the amount of blood sugar and the amount of insulin in the body, particularly when drunk in high amounts. Alcohol Consumption When you consume an alcoholic drink, the alcohol moves directly into the bloodstream without being metabolized in the stomach. It only takes five minutes for alcohol to become detectable in the bloodstream, where it then travels to the liver to be metabolized. For most people it takes about two hours for the liver to metabolize a single drink. If you continue to drink alcohol faster than your liver can metabolize it, the excess alcohol is carried by the bloodstream to the brain and other areas of the body. For those taking insulin -- a hormone that regulates glucose in the blood -- this can lead to low blood sugar because the liver is busy removing alcohol from the bloodstream rather than regulating blood sugar levels. High Blood Sugar and Hypoglycemia In frequent drinkers, the body can become less sensitive to insulin, which can result in high blood sugar levels. Accor Continue reading >>

Alcoholism And Diabetes: Exploring The Connection

Alcoholism And Diabetes: Exploring The Connection

According to the National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2014, 29 million people in the U.S. (9.3 percent of the population) have diabetes. About 86 million adults have pre-diabetes, a condition that significantly increases their risks of developing diabetes. The onset of diabetes or concerns over the risk of developing the disease prompts many people to examine their food and lifestyle choices. Among the questions that top their minds is “Can I drink if I have diabetes?” According to the American Diabetes Association, most people with diabetes can drink a moderate amount of alcohol if their blood sugar level is well under control. The key here is moderation. Moderate amount of alcohol is known to be beneficial for the heart and can reduce the risk of developing heart disease. However, you should always consult your doctor to find out if alcohol is safe for you. Before delving into the correlation between alcoholism and diabetes, learn more about diabetes. This knowledge will help you understand why doctors and scientists warn against excessive drinking. Diabetes is a life-long condition where either the body (the pancreas) does not produce adequate insulin or the insulin does not work as expected. Insulin is a hormone that facilitates the conversion of glucose in the bloodstream to cellular energy that fuels us. Diabetics have an excess of glucose in the bloodstream. Over time, excessive blood glucose levels damage all the major organs of the body, like the heart, kidneys, and eyes. Unmanaged diabetes can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, strokes, nerve damage, blindness, and kidney failure. Diabetes: Type I and Type II The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases classifies the types of diabetes. Type I diabetes is the least common Continue reading >>

Type 2 Diabetes And Alcohol: Proceed With Caution

Type 2 Diabetes And Alcohol: Proceed With Caution

Alcohol can worsen diabetes-related nerve damage.(RON CHAPPLE STOCK/CORBIS)Hoping for a beer at the ball game, or a glass of wine with dinner? If you have type 2 diabetes, that's probably OK as long as your blood sugar is under control, you don't have any complications that are affected by alcohol (such as high blood pressure), and you know how the drink will affect your blood sugar, according to the American Diabetes Association. An alcohol-containing drink a day might even help your heart (though if you don't already drink, most experts say that's not a reason to start). In moderation, alcohol may cut heart disease risk According to a study by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, women with type 2 diabetes who drank relatively small amounts of alcohol had a lower heart-disease risk than those who abstained. A second study found that men with diabetes had the same reduction in heart risk with a moderate alcohol intake as non-diabetic men. In general, the recommendations for alcohol consumption for someone with type 2 diabetes are the same as anyone else: no more than two drinks per day for men and no more than one drink per day for women. (Make sure to measure: A drink serving is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor such as scotch, gin, tequila, or vodka.) People with diabetes who choose to drink need to take extra care keeping food, medications, alcohol, and blood sugars in balance. Janis Roszler, RD, a certified diabetes educator in Miami, Fla., recommends: Mixing alcoholic drinks with water or calorie-free diet sodas instead of sugary (and calorie- and carbohydrate-laden) sodas and other mixers. Once you have had your drink, switch to a non-alcoholic drink, such as sparkling water, for the rest of the evening. Make sure yo Continue reading >>

Non-diabetic Hypoglycemia

Non-diabetic Hypoglycemia

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: What is non-diabetic hypoglycemia? Non-diabetic hypoglycemia is a condition that causes the sugar (glucose) in your blood to drop too low. This can happen in people who do not have diabetes. The 2 types of non-diabetic hypoglycemia are fasting hypoglycemia and reactive hypoglycemia. Fasting hypoglycemia often happens after the person goes without food for 8 hours or longer. Reactive hypoglycemia usually happens about 2 to 4 hours after a meal. When your blood sugar level is low, your muscles and brain cells do not have enough energy to work well. What causes non-diabetic hypoglycemia? Fasting hypoglycemia: Certain medicines or herbal supplements such as fenugreek, ginseng, or cinnamon Alcohol Exercise Medical conditions such as liver disease, hypothyroidism, and tumors Eating disorders or malnutrition Stomach surgery or hemodialysis Reactive hypoglycemia: The causes of reactive hypoglycemia may be unknown. Hyperinsulinism Meals high in refined carbohydrates such as white bread or foods high in sugar Prediabetes Any surgery of the digestive system What are the signs and symptoms of non-diabetic hypoglycemia? Blurred vision or changes in vision Dizziness, lightheadedness, or shakiness Fatigue and weakness Fast or pounding heartbeat Sweating more than usual Headache Nausea or hunger Anxiety, Irritability, or confusion How is non-diabetic hypoglycemia diagnosed? Blood tests are done to measure your blood sugar levels. These tests may also be done to find the cause of your hypoglycemia. Fasting tests may be done. You may have an overnight fasting test or a 72-hour fasting test. After you have fasted overnight, your blood sugar levels will be tested 2 times. For a 72-hour fasting test, you will not be given food for a period of up to 72 hours. During th Continue reading >>

Alcohol And Hypoglycemia | Science Explains Why Alcohol Causes Hypoglycemia

Alcohol And Hypoglycemia | Science Explains Why Alcohol Causes Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia is a health condition in which a person has an extremely low level of sugar or glucose in their blood. Hypoglycemia is something that frequently occurs as a side effect of diabetes drugs, but it can develop for other reasons as well. When you digest food, your body breaks down carbohydrates into different types of sugar, one of these being glucose. Glucose is the primary source of energy for your body. After you eat, it’s absorbed into your bloodstream and enters your tissues with the help of insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas. While hypoglycemia is most often a side effect of diabetes medication, it can have other causes as well. These include the use of certain medications, certain illnesses, hormone deficiencies and the overproduction of insulin. Another possible cause is excessive drinking. So, what about alcohol and hypoglycemia? How is it that science explains why alcohol causes hypoglycemia? It can be complicated to understand the relationship between alcohol and hypoglycemia and understand why alcohol causes hypoglycemia. It would seem counterintuitive at first to think that alcohol causes hypoglycemia. The reason is that alcohol contains a lot of sugar, so it would seem like it would cause a spike in blood sugar, rather than a decline. But there’s more to it than that. So, how is it that science explains why alcohol causes hypoglycemia? A lot of it has to do with the liver. Your liver is an integral part of regulating your blood glucose levels. Throughout the day your liver is responsible for releasing glucose into the blood at a steady rate. However, drinking can cause the liver to be unable to release glucose into the blood effectively. With alcohol and hypoglycemia, the risks can be particularly severe if you binge drink and you hav Continue reading >>

A Look At Alcohol And The Risk Of Diabetes

A Look At Alcohol And The Risk Of Diabetes

Think of type 2 diabetes and you probably think of obesity: and it is true – excess weight is the biggest risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Almost 90% of people living with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese. Diabetes can be a vicious disease. At its worst it can lead to amputations, blindness, organ failure, and early death. But what about alcohol – can alcohol cause diabetes? How Does Diabetes Work? It’s like this: In the body food is turned into sugar. An excess of food, especially sweets, will turn into an excess of sugar. (While alcohol is not a sugar it is a high-glycemic carbohydrate.) This creates an increased demand for insulin in the body. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body convert food into usable energy. The body’s sensitivity to the hormone is reduced when insulin levels are consistently high and glucose builds up in the blood. This results in a condition called insulin resistance. Over time, excessive alcohol consumption can decrease the effectiveness of insulin. For the body that cannot make proper use of this glucose, it will instead build up in the blood rather than moving into the cells where it’s needed. Symptoms can include fatigue, hunger, brain fog, and high blood pressure – and not least of all, weight gain. People who have insulin resistance most often don’t realize it’s a problem until it develops into full blown type 2 diabetes. Diabetes can seriously affect quality of life and reduce life expectancy: A 50 year old with diabetes can lose 8.5 of life compared to a 50 year old without diabetes. What Is the Correlation Between Alcohol and Diabetes? While moderate drinking may not necessarily have harmful effects in the development of diabetes, and in fact can even have protective qualities, heavy drinking can be extremely Continue reading >>

Diabetes, Alcohol, And Social Drinking

Diabetes, Alcohol, And Social Drinking

People with diabetes should be particularly cautious when it comes to drinking alcohol because alcohol can make some of the complications of diabetes worse. First of all, alcohol impacts the liver in doing its job of regulating blood sugar. Alcohol can also interact with some medications that are prescribed to people with diabetes. Even if you only rarely drink alcohol, talk with your healthcare provider about it so that he or she knows which medications are best for you. Here’s what you need to know: 1. Alcohol interacts with diabetes medications Alcohol can cause blood glucose levels to rise or fall, depending on how much you drink. Some diabetes pills (including sulfonylureas and meglitinides) also lower blood glucose levels by stimulating the pancreas to make more insulin. Combining the blood-sugar-lowering effects of the medication with alcohol can lead to hypoglycemia or “insulin shock,” which is a medical emergency. 2. Alcohol prevents your liver from doing its job The main function of your liver is to store glycogen, which is the stored form of glucose, so that you will have a source of glucose when you haven’t eaten. When you drink alcohol, your liver has to work to remove it from your blood instead of working to regulate blood sugar, or blood glucose. For this reason, you should never drink alcohol when your blood glucose is already low. 3. Never drink alcohol on an empty stomach Food slows down the rate at which alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream. Be sure to eat a meal or snack containing carbohydrates if you are going to drink alcohol. 4. Always test blood sugar before having an alcoholic beverage Alcohol impairs your liver’s ability to produce glucose, so be sure to know your blood glucose number before you drink an alcoholic beverage. 5. Al Continue reading >>

You Won’t Recover From Alcohol Abuse Without This

You Won’t Recover From Alcohol Abuse Without This

It is crucial for everyone to balance their blood sugar; however, it is especially critical for people recovering from alcohol or drug abuse to balance their blood sugar. Most alcoholics and people recovering from alcohol abuse have blood sugar problems. However, beyond that, destabilized blood sugar makes it nearly impossible to stop abusing alcohol because the cravings are just too strong. Research indicates, 70-90% of people that abuse alcohol suffer to some degree from hypoglycemia (chronic low blood sugar) and over 90% of alcoholics are hypoglycemic or diabetic . Symptoms and effects of hypoglycemia can include dizziness, fatigue, sleep disorders, headaches, lack of ability to concentrate, depression, anxiety, light-headedness, tremors, cold sweats, heart palpitations, loss of coordination, and upset stomach. In time, the drinker’s overworked pancreas may stop producing insulin and diabetes can result. Our body compensates, as a protective mechanism, every time our blood sugar spikes too high or too low. When we don’t eat healthy fats and protein regularly, our blood sugar drops extremely low. When we drink alcohol or eat sugary or processed, refined carbohydrates our blood sugar spikes so high that the pancreas has to protect us by releasing insulin which causes a fast drop in blood sugar also. Every time our blood sugar drops, our body craves refined carbohydrates and sugar, because they provide the quickest source of usable glucose to the body, to pump back up our blood sugar. Guess what alcohol is, in all of its forms? Refined carbohydrates. A person’s body who has abused alcohol, innately knows that alcohol is quickly absorbed into our blood stream, bypassing our digestive system and quickly spiking our blood sugar, so that’s what our body craves. As a Continue reading >>

Alcohol & Diabetes

Alcohol & Diabetes

As a general rule, there is no need to avoid alcohol because you have diabetes. You should not drink alcohol if you: Are pregnant or trying to get pregnant Are breastfeeding Have a personal or family history of drinking problems Are planning to drive or engage in other activities that require attention or skill Are taking certain medications. Ask your pharmacist about your medications. Consider the following questions when deciding what is best for you: Is my diabetes under control? Am I free from health problems that alcohol can make worse such as disease of the pancreas, eye disease, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, liver problems, nerve damage or stroke? Do I know how to prevent and treat low blood glucose (sugar)? If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you should speak to your diabetes educator or health-care professional before drinking alcohol. If you answered “yes” to all of these questions, it is OK to drink alcohol in moderation. Moderate alcohol intake is limited to two standard drinks/day or less than 10 drinks/week for women; and less than three standard drinks/day or less than 15 drinks/week for men. This recommendation is the same for people without diabetes. Health risks of alcohol use You may have heard that alcohol has certain health benefits. However, any pattern of drinking can be harmful. Proven ways of improving your health include: healthy eating, being active, and being a non-smoker. Diabetes Canada’s Clinical Practice Guidelines recommend that: People using insulin or insulin secretagogues should be aware of delayed hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) that can occur up to 24 hours after drinking alcohol. People with type 1 diabetes should be aware of the risk of morning hypoglycemia if alcohol is consumed two to three hour Continue reading >>

Some Words About Alcohol

Some Words About Alcohol

SOME WORDS ABOUT ALCOHOL Alcohol can provide calories, or energy, without directly raising blood sugar, but if you’re an insulin-dependent diabetic, you need to be cautious about drinking. Ethyl alcohol, which is the active ingredient in hard liquor, beer, and wine, has no direct effect on blood sugar because the body does not convert it into glucose. In the case of distilled spirits and very dry wine, the alcohol generally isn’t accompanied by enough carbohydrate to affect your blood sugar very much. For example, 100 proof gin has 83 calories per ounce. These extra calories can increase your weight slightly, but not your blood sugar. Different beers—ales, stouts, and lagers—can have varying amounts of carbohydrate, which is slow enough in its action that if you figure it into your meal plan, it may not raise your blood sugar. Mixed drinks and dessert wines can be loaded with sugar, so they’re best avoided. Exceptions would be a dry martini or mixed drinks that can be made with a sugar-free mixer, such as sugar-free tonic water. Ethyl alcohol, however, can indirectly lower the blood sugars of some diabetics if consumed at the time of a meal. It does this by partially paralyzing the liver and thereby inhibiting gluconeogenesis so that it can’t convert all the protein of the meal into glucose. For the average adult, this appears to be a significant effect with doses greater than 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, or one standard shot glass. If you have two 1.5-ounce servings of gin with a meal, your liver’s ability to convert protein into glucose may be impaired. If you’re insulin- dependent and your calculation of how much insulin you’ll require to cover your meal is based on, say, two hot dogs, and those hot dogs don’t get 7.5 percent converted to gluc Continue reading >>

Alcohol And Nutrition

Alcohol And Nutrition

Alcohol is a part of many social occasions, from family dinners to parties, to sporting events and nightcaps. The problems associated with alcoholism are well known, but what about the impact of social drinking or a moderate intake of alcohol? Does alcohol belong in our diet, or does the risk that it presents outweigh any benefits that may be derived from consuming it? The truth is that no one needs alcohol to live, so regardless of what you've heard or want to believe, alcohol is not essential in our diets. We consume alcohol to relax, socialize, and/or celebrate. Depending on your health, age, and the amount that you consume there may be some added health benefits, but the negative consequences when consumed in excess far outweigh these benefits. Many believe that as long as they are not an alcoholic they are not at risk for any health problems. This may or may not be the case depending on many factors. If you want to be able to drink and gain any benefits that exist, while avoiding any of the negative consequences, you need to understand alcohol and learn about the research and guidelines for safely consuming it in moderation. Good nutrition can help to improve your health and prevent diseases. The essential nutrients that your body needs are carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, and water. The term "essential" means that if you remove one of these nutrients from your diet, there will be a deficiency that causes health problems. Alcohol would not fall under the category of an essential nutrient because not having it in your diet does not lead to any sort of deficiency. Alcoholic beverages primarily consist of water, alcohol (ethanol), and different amounts of sugar. The calories come from the alcohol and sugar and are considered "empty calories" because of Continue reading >>

Diabetes And Alcohol: Do The Two Mix? (part 1)

Diabetes And Alcohol: Do The Two Mix? (part 1)

A nice glass of Chianti…a cold beer on a hot summer day…celebrating with a flute of champagne. There are so many ways that alcohol is integrated into both everyday life and special occasions. Granted, not everyone drinks alcohol, but many people do. And when it comes to the question, "Can I drink alcohol if I have diabetes?" the answer is about as clear as that for "Is a low-carb diet good for diabetes?" In other words, the answer really is, "It depends!" It’s important to mention right off the bat that there are certainly many reasons why people should not drink alcohol. Some may be related to diabetes and some may be related to other reasons. Therefore, it’s important to discuss this issue with your health-care provider if you have any doubts or concerns. And if you’re newly diagnosed with diabetes or starting on a new medicine, it’s worthwhile bringing up the topic if your provider doesn’t. While you’d be hard-pressed to find any health organization actually recommending that you drink alcohol, you might take some comfort in knowing that the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, and even the American Cancer Society agree that drinking alcohol in moderation is certainly not off-limits to most people. But back to diabetes and alcohol. What’s the concern here? And why should some people with diabetes not drink alcohol? To answer these questions, it’s helpful to understand a little bit about how alcohol is processed in the body. The body treats alcohol as a drug, not as a food product. This means that, when you drink any type of alcoholic beverage, your liver kicks into high gear, preparing itself to “detoxify” the body of this “poison” (I’m using these words for dramatic effect). Essentially, the liver has to metabo Continue reading >>

Can Drinking Beer Lower Blood Glucose Level?

Can Drinking Beer Lower Blood Glucose Level?

Using beer monotherapy to control blood sugar has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. :-) Drinking beer can lower your blood sugar, especially if you drink a lot of it, but not in the way you want it too. If you really tie one on, not that I’m recommending it, your blood sugar will definitely drop. The problem is that it will drop 6-10 hours downstream when you are sleeping it off. Depending on what other meds you are on for your diabetes, it might even drop you low enough to kill you. In the mean time, before your blood sugar drops so low that you die, your sugar will actually go up because beer has quite a few carbohydrates. Let’s face it, a can of beer is just a fermented bowl of oatmeal, after all. But assuming you don’t drink enough to kill yourself, drinking a lot of beer can actually make your diabetes worse because beer has a lot of calories, which can make you fat, which can make your insulin resistance worse, which will make your blood sugars higher, which will kill you very slowly instead. Don’t get me wrong. Sorry wives of beer drinkers: your newly diabetic husband can still have his beer. But like anything else with diabetes, moderation is the key. So don’t overdo it. Remember that too much alcohol is a recipe for too low blood sugar. Enjoy all that life has to offer, just enjoy it in moderation. Continue reading >>

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