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Does Alcohol Raise Or Lower Blood Sugar

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May Hamper The Digestive System

What Does Alcohol Do to Your Blood Sugar?

Low blood sugar over a long period may lead to a digestive condition known as gastroparesis. If you have gastroparesis, food stays in your stomach longer than usual. It may cause damage to the vagus nerve . It further inhibits food movement from the gut to the small intestine. Symptoms of gastroparesis include nausea, vomiting, reduced appetite, abdominal pain and even heartburn.

It Can Impair Sleep Quality

  • Alcohol may reduce REM sleep and cause sleep disruptions. This makes some people fall asleep too quickly, hitting deep sleep instead of progressing through all the natural sleep states, leading to insomnia.
  • Drinking alcohol has been linked to developing sleep apnea, which occurs when you have lapses in your breathing patterns during sleep.
  • The body can perceive alcohol as a stressor, causing increased glucose output and reductions in insulin sensitivity. Both these factors can result in higher glucose values overnight and the following day.
  • A recommendation to consider is trying not to consume alcohol four hours or more before bedtime.

Alcohol Consumption And Diabetes

If you have diabetes, you are more vulnerable to the adverse effects of heavy alcohol intake. Therefore, it is best if you can avoid alcohol altogether. Alcohol interacts with the medications like insulin and sulfonylureas, commonly used to treat diabetes. It also prevents the liver from functioning effectively.

However, in case you wish to consume alcohol on an occasion, here are a few tips for your safety. As per a study by the American Diabetes Association, the following are some guidelines that you should keep in mind while taking alcohol. They can help you minimise the adverse effects of alcohol on your overall health:

  • Keep a tab on how much you are drinking. Men with diabetes should limit their drinks to 2 drinks a day. This limit for women is one drink per day.
  • Avoid drinking on an empty stomach. The drink quickly passes through the stomach into the small intestine and gets absorbed into the bloodstream.
  • Avoid craft beers as they contain much more alcohol and calories than regular beers.
  • Take note of how much sugar content and calories a particular drink has.
  • Keep yourself hydrated with beverages like water, herbal tea and infused water.
  • Check your sugar levels 24 hours before and after drinking.
  • Always wear a CGM to alert people around you that you have diabetes. It will help them act quicker in case of a medical emergency.

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What Is Blood Sugar

Blood sugar, also called blood glucose, is sugar thats carried to the cells through the bloodstream. Blood sugar generally refers to the concentration of sugar in your blood at a specific time.

We get sugar from the foods we eat, and its the bodys job to regulate blood sugar levels, so they dont go too high or low.

Throughout the day, its not uncommon for blood sugar levels to go up and down based on when you eat and how your body releases a hormone called insulin. If youve just eaten, your blood sugar levels will go up, and then theyll settle back down. If you have diabetes, however, your blood sugar levels may have to be specially managed.

If your blood sugar is always high, you have hyperglycemia, which can happen in people if their diabetes isnt being managed well. If your blood sugar is below normal, its called hypoglycemia, and this can happen in people with diabetes if they accidentally use too much of their medication.

So, what role does alcohol play in all of this, and how does alcohol affect blood sugar?

Things To Keep In Mind If You Choose To Drink

Is Alcohol Worse For Your Liver Or Kidneys

If you decide to drink alcohol, taking these steps can help keep you safe.

  • Do not drink alcohol on an empty stomach or when your blood glucose is low. Any time you drink alcohol, there is a risk of low blood sugar. Drink alcohol with a meal or with a carbohydrate-rich snack to maintain normal blood sugar levels.
  • Never skip meals or have alcohol in place of a meal.
  • Drink slowly. If you consume liquor, mix it with water, club soda, diet tonic water, or diet soda.
  • Carry a source of sugar, such as glucose tablets, in case of low blood sugar.
  • If you count carbohydrates as part of your meal plan, talk with your provider about how to account for alcohol.
  • Do not exercise if you have been drinking alcohol, as it increases the risk for low blood sugar.
  • Carry visible medical ID stating that you have diabetes. This is important because the symptoms of too much alcohol and low blood sugar are similar.
  • Avoid drinking alone. Drink with someone who knows that you have diabetes. The person should know what to do if you start having symptoms of low blood sugar.

Because alcohol puts you at risk for low blood sugar even hours after you drink, you should check your blood glucose:

  • Before you start drinking
  • A few hours after drinking
  • Up to the next 24 hours

Make sure your blood glucose is at a safe level before you go to sleep.

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How Does Alcohol Affect Blood Sugar

The livers functionality is an important part of understanding how alcohol affects blood sugar. Your liver is a key component in regulating your blood sugar levels throughout the day. When you drink, it impacts the liver and, more specifically, its ability to release glucose into your bloodstream as its supposed to. Alcohol impairs liver function and can keep your liver from releasing enough glycogen to keep your blood glucose levels from going too low.

More Things You Should Know About Alcohol And Blood Sugar

1. Drink Only One Glass

If you want to enjoy an alcoholic beverage, keep it to one glass of wine or beer. Avoid mixed drinks or sweet wines as they are full of carbohydrates, sugar and are high in calories. Make sure to eat before drinking or you may experience a spike in your blood glucose level.

Alcohol and blood sugar don’t mix if you have glucose levels that erratically fluctuate. If your blood sugar is at the same level most of the time, it is okay to have a drink or two with a healthy meal.

2. Eat Healthy When Drinking

When having a glass of wine or a beer, eat a healthy snack to keep your blood sugar from getting too low. Make sure to check your levels before going to bed and eat something before going to sleep if your levels are on the low side.

3. Prepare for Dreaded Situations

People are curious, it is true. They will ask why you are only having one drink or avoiding desserts. Role play on how you will handle these situations so you dont feel intimidated when they occur.

4. Think Before Sex

Energetic sex combined with alcohol can affect your blood glucose level, possibly lowering it to dangerous levels. Make sure you watch out for symptoms and monitor your blood sugar.

5. Consider Drug and Alcohol Interactions

It is important to know if any of your medications will negatively interact with alcohol consumption. It is also important to know when and how you should take your medications. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you are not sure on the instructions.

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Binge Drinking Throughout Life Is Associated With Higher Blood Glucose Levels In Women But Not Men

Regular high alcohol consumption and binge drinking from age 16 is associated with higher glucose concentrations in womens blood an important risk factor for type 2 diabetes later in life, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Public Health.

This study is the first to assess alcohol consumption data, starting in adolescence, over a 27 year period in relation to their blood glucose levels taken when they were 43 years of age. In women, total alcohol consumption and binge drinking behaviour throughout the 27 year period was significantly associated with higher blood glucose levels independent of BMI, hypertension and smoking status at age 43. This association was not true for men, for whom only BMI and hypertension remained associated with increased blood glucose levels.

Dr Karina Nygren, lead author from Umea University, Sweden said: Our findings show that high alcohol consumption from ages 16 to 43 is associated with higher blood glucose levels in women but not in men. Because higher blood glucose is a risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes, our data suggest that informing people about the risk of high alcohol consumption at a young age could have positive health impacts further down the line.

Despite the association between alcohol, binge drinking and blood glucose only being significant in women, men still had higher blood glucose levels than women and consumed nearly 3 times as much alcohol between ages 16 and 43.

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You Can Live Longer By Drinking Within Limits

How alcohol affects blood sugar levels | Fantasia McGuffie

If you are a diabetic, your healthcare expert would mention your drinking limits. Keeping your health conditions in mind, they may bar you from consuming alcohol. In several cases, females suffering from diabetes are suggested not to consume more than a drink a day. Men are suggested to limit their intake to two drinks a day.

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Leave Sugary Beverages On The Shelf

Sugar-sweetened beverages are a one-way ticket to high blood sugar. Eliminating or drinking fewer of them can lower blood sugar, as well as helps with weight loss and maintenance, says Asterino-McGeean. Save soda pop and juice for when you need to treat low blood sugar.

Drinks high in sugar include:

How Sugar Affects Your Body

Too much sugar is bad for your heath in a number of ways. Firstly, its very high in calories, and excessive consumption can lead to unhealthy weight gain. Being overweight can make you more susceptible to long term health problems, including life threatening illnesses such as heart disease. A high-sugar diet can also lead to type 2 diabetes, which occurs when a persons blood sugar levels are too high.

Quite apart from the damage it can do to your body, sugar is also the main cause of tooth decay, which can lead to cavities if left untreated.

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How Does Alcohol Affect Blood Sugar Levels

Its not just the high sugar content of alcohol that can damage you excessive drinking has been proven to have a negative effect on blood sugar, as well. When you drink alcohol, your body treats it as a toxin and puts all of its energy into getting rid of it. Since the liver is busy dealing with the alcohol you just drank and absorbing all of the sugar from the alcohol that it can, it has to stop managing your blood sugar levels.

As the liver inhibits the release of more sugar, your blood sugar levels drop and your body stops digesting and processing any food youve eaten. In fact, alcohol can affect your blood sugar for many hours.

Is Wine Good For Diabetes

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Some studies suggest that drinking a glass of wine a day may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. These results, however, are controversial, and other studies suggest that additional ingredients in the wine, not the alcohol, provide this positive health effect. This seems to be supported by the fact that it is wine specifically and not any alcoholic drink that helps reduce the risk of diabetes.

It is important to note that while wine may help reduce the risk of developing diabetes, it may not be safe to use for someone who already has developed diabetes. Additionally, heavy use of wine or any alcohol negates any positive effect the wine may provide.

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Effects Of Alcohol Consumption In The Fasting State

In contrast to chronic alcohol consumption in the fed statewhich raises blood sugar levels, resulting in hyperglycemiaalcohol consumption in the fasting state can induce a profound reduction in blood glucose levels . That effect has been observed in both type 1 and type 2 diabetics as well as in nondiabetics . Hypoglycemia can have serious, even life-threatening, consequences, because adequate blood sugar levels are needed to ensure brain functioning.

Alcohol-induced hypoglycemia typically occurs in people who, sometimes for days, have been drinking alcohol but not eating. In such a fasting state, the body has two major mechanisms for maintaining the blood sugar levels necessary to provide energy to the brain: breakdown of glycogen, or glycogenolysis, and production of glucose, or gluconeogenesis.

Glycogen is a large molecule that consists of numerous glucose molecules and serves as a storage form of glucose in the tissues, particularly the liver. In the fasting state, as a first line of defense against hypoglycemia, glycogen is broken down into its constituent glucose molecules, which are secreted by the liver into the blood to maintain normal or near-normal blood sugar levels. Generally, the glycogen supply is depleted after 1 or 2 days of fasting. Thus, a person who has been drinking alcohol and not eating for 1 or more days has exhausted his or her glycogen supply.

Alcohol And The Liver

When we drink alcohol, the alcohol can inhibit the livers ability to release glucose into the blood.

This can be particularly significant for people on stronger medication such as insulin because it can mean that the liver is not able to release enough glycogen to keep our blood glucose levels from going too low under the influence of the insulin in our body.

The impairment of the liver by alcohol can last for several hours after drinking so it is important to be aware of this.

A potentially dangerous situation can occur if you go to sleep without bearing in mind the fact that your liver will be affected by alcohol. Many people with diabetes, particularly those that take stronger medication such as insulin, can be at risk of suffering hypoglycemia over night if they do not take additional carbohydrate before going to bed.

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Can Diabetics Drink Wine Beer Or Other Alcoholic Drinks

Everyones specific situation is different, and no one should make an important medical decision without first speaking with their doctor. As a general rule, however, people with diabetes can safely use alcohol in moderation. Drinking alcohol can be addictive and especially dangerous for those with diabetes binge drinking or heavy drinking should definitely be avoided, as it may cause dangerous episodes of hypoglycemia.

Does Alcohol Lower Blood Sugar

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While alcohol does cause a spike in blood sugar, it often also leads to a drop in sugar after this initial spike. Alcohol changes how the pancreas functions and leads to an increase in insulin while inhibiting the livers normal ability to release sugar. This pair of effects leads to an overall drop in blood sugar.

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How To Treat Diabetes Without Meds

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When Choosing Your Drink Be Mindful Of Carb Counts

In general, alcohol drops blood sugar, but sugars already present in your drinks can increase it. Thats why its important to pay attention to the carbohydrate count in your drinks. Knowing the effect of alcohol on blood sugar, people often stick to drinks that have a lower alcohol sugar content in order to avoid a high. Use these estimated carb counts of popular drinks to help guide you but always check the label of your drink or use a carb counting app.

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Alcohol Associates With The Medication Of Diabetes

The amount of alcohol you consume affects your blood glucose levels. It makes the blood sugar level rise or fall depending on the quantity consumed. Certain pills like meglitinides and sulfonylureas lower blood sugar levels. They make insulin by stimulating the pancreas. The lowering of blood sugar levels combined with alcohol leads to insulin shock or hypoglycemia. The condition of hypoglycemia is a medical emergency.

Alcohol And Nocturnal Hypoglycyemia

effects of alcohol

Alcohol and hypos can be a dangerous combination, particularly over night. Were sad to say that people on insulin can die as a result of hypos over night following alcohol if precautions are not taken to blood sugar levels from going too low.

If you have been drinking alcohol, it is important therefore to take sufficient carbohydrate before going to bed. If you are unsure how much carbohydrate to take, it is usually better to guess too much rather than too little carbohydrate.

Its important to test your blood glucose before going to bed and when you wake.

If you usually take an injection of long term insulin before bed, you will need to take this injection and ensure youve had enough carbohydrate to prevent a hypo occurring.

Be aware that its important not to miss your night time injection as your body will begin to release ketones which can significantly increase the risk of ketoacidosis occurring.

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