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Dr. Apoorva T, MHM.
Influence of Alcohol on Glucose
Table of Contents
Does Consumption of Alcohol Affect Glucose in the Body?
Yes, each time you consume alcohol, sugar levels in the blood get affected. A person who does not drink regularly may also get adversely affected by consuming alcohol. Insulin secretion in the body goes up once you drink alcohol. Increased secretion of insulin leads to a situation of hypoglycemia, which is an abnormal drop in the glucose level in the bloodstream.
If alcohol is taken in a moderate quantity, sometimes it causes spikes in blood sugar levels. Wines and beers are drinks that may cause the glucose level in the bloodstream to go up sharply. Regular consumption of alcohol disturbs the liver’s capability to generate new glucose. The process that the liver takes to make new glucose in the body is called gluconeogenesis. When the liver cannot generate glucose due to the effects of alcohol, the sugar level in the bloodstream tends to go down to a level that is below the tolerance range.
Many of the symptoms that we find in ourselves stem from metabolic disorders and compromised immune systems of the body which are no longer able to process sugar or glucose, which is necessary to generate energy in our bodies. It may not be out of place to mention that our lifestyles, eating habits, and binges of drinking have damaged our metabolic system. This has resulted in us getting more tired, less energetic, and immune-compromised. Read more to know about what level of blood sugar is dangerous?
What happens when you have a drink?
The effects that alcohol might have on glucose content of the body are dependent on certain factors, they are:
- If you consumed solid food recently
- If you are fasting
- If you are in a ketogenic state
Additionally, what you have mixed with your alcohol, whether it is a juice or a soda, which has carbohydrates also work as an influencer. For a person who is on fast or is already in a ketogenic state, the situation is more grave. A person who is fasting is already running low on glucose in the body, even the glycogen levels in the liver and muscles are inadequate. Under normal circumstances, the liver produces new glucose by gluconeogenesis. But if you have consumed alcohol, the process of generation of glucose gets inhibited. The common outcome in this state is sugar levels falling to perilously low levels. In some cases, acute hypoglycemia, a state of an extreme drop in sugar levels in the blood, may cause coma or even death. Also know about fasting blood sugar levels.
Long Term, Heavy Consumption of Alcohol
If a person consumes alcohol over a long period and in heavy quantities, this may lead to alcoholic liver disease (ALD). The ALD condition damages beta cells in the pancreas which produces insulin, this leads to a dysregulation of glycemia. People having ALD run a very high risk of insulin resistance and the occurrence of Type II diabetes mellitus. ALD is potentially more dangerous than other liver ailments originating from non-alcoholic causes, e.g. jaundice.
Glucose and Binge Drinking
When a person indulges in binge drinking, even if it is once a month, the amount of alcohol that goes into the body disrupts the glucose content in the blood and heightens the chance of Type II diabetes mellitus. Binge drinking would mean the following:
- For men, intake of 5 alcoholic drinks within 2 hours
- For women, it is an intake of 4 alcoholic drinks within 2 hours
Binge drinking leads to inflammation of the brain and body, and the neurological control of metabolism gets unsettled, resulting in insulin resistance in the body. These ill effects of binge drinking go on even long after the alcohol gets metabolized.
Effects of Alcohol in Diabetes
As was discussed earlier, the consumption of alcohol takes a toll on your metabolic health. Maintaining a healthy rate of metabolism to keep the blood sugar within tolerable limits is the main challenge associated with the treatment of diabetes.
As a person suffering from diabetes, you need to remember that the pills you are taking are aimed at keeping the sugar level in your blood at a moderate level. Consumption of alcohol may lead to a further fall in blood sugar, leading to an emergency like insulin shock. Hence, you must need to be careful and refrain from drinking when your sugar level is already on the lower side. The effect of alcohol in terms of lowering your blood sugar levels abnormally may last for 12 hours, hence, you need to be on alert and if you feel that sugar levels are falling, you are advised to take a snack to manage the fall.
Glucose Control How You Feel:
The amount of glucose present in your bloodstream and brain works big time on your mood swings. If the condition is hypoglycemia, there are chances that your brain does not have sufficient glucose to feed itself. A hypoglycemic state often finds a person in a state of confusion and lacking in concentration, hence, one may tend to feel cranky then.
Glucose Control How You Look:
A person with a higher level of blood sugar would tend to look haggard, and weak and would have a rapid loss of weight without any apparent cause.
Glucose Controls How You Perform:
An unnatural level of glucose, whether it is on the higher side or it is lower than tolerable limits will have its effects on your actions. Glucose content in your body provides you with energy, if the glucose levels are not correct, you may face extreme fatigue and irritation. This will harm your performance both in your professional and private life. Also know about fasting blood sugar level.
As is evident, alcohol has a complex effect on a person’s metabolic system and glucose levels. Light to moderate intake of alcohol is acceptable as the impact on the glucose content in the body is not so radical. However, one must take ample care to maintain the glucose level in the body in a stable range and need to be diligent while consuming alcohol while fasting or in a ketogenic stage. Also know about normal sugar level.
This website's content is provided only for educational reasons and is not meant to be a replacement for professional medical advice. Due to individual differences, the reader should contact their physician to decide whether the material is applicable to their case.