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Will Wine Raise Your Blood Sugar

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How The Body Processes Alcohol


The body processes alcohol differently from most other foods. This can have a number of implications for people with type 2 diabetes. To understand why, it helps to have a broad understanding of what happens to the alcohol in, say, a glass of wine after you drink it:

  • The wine goes directly to the stomach. What happens next depends on whether or not food is there.
  • If there is food in the stomach, the pyloric valvewhich separates the stomach from the small intestinewill be shut so that the food can be digested before moving to the small intestine. This traps the alcohol in the stomach. If there is no food in the stomach, the pyloric valve is open and the alcohol can go straight into the small intestine.
  • In the stomach or intestine, alcohol is absorbed directly into the bloodstream. This is possible because alcohol is made up of molecules that are so small they can be taken up by the thousands of tiny blood vessels that line the stomach and the small intestine.
  • Once in the bloodstream, alcohol travels to cells throughout the body. It eventually winds up in the the liver, which is the only organ that metabolizes alcohol.
  • At this point, alcohol can affect blood sugar in ways that are especially important for people with type 2 diabetes. This is because the liver is where excess glucose is stored in a form called glycogen.

    When blood sugar levels dip too low, the liver converts glycogen into glucose. This glucose is released into the bloodstream to bring levels up to normal.

    Things You Should Know About Wine And Diabetes

    People with type 2 diabetes have been found to be 2-4 times more likely to suffer from heart disease when compared to people who do not have diabetes, according to the American Heart Disease, an organization that studies diabetes and its complications.

    There is some evidence that, when a person with diabetes drinks a moderate amount of red wine per day, they could decrease their chances of heart disease. Other evidence indicates that no amount of alcohol should be taken in by diabetics.

    It Wears On Your Entire Body

    Regular drinking is not only going to make your blood sugars more difficult to control, its going to wear on your liver and your kidneys, both of which are already under greater stress if your blood sugars are higher than ideal.

    If you already have diagnosed retinopathy in your eyes, regular drinking can worsen the health of the nerves and blood vessels in your eyes.

    The long-term effects of regular alcohol consumption are well documented, but for people with diabetes, anything wears on us more noticeably because our body is already experiencing higher levels of inflammation along with blood vessel and nerve damage due to non-diabetic blood sugar levels.

    The American Diabetes Association recommends that people living with diabetes follow the general guidelines for alcohol consumption:

    • Men: No more than 2 drinks per day on average
    • Women: No more than 1 drink per day on average

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    Does Drinking Cause Your Glucose To Be High

    Alcohol consumption interferes with complex mechanisms that balance your bodys blood glucose, also known as blood sugar, level. The significance of this interference depends on many individual factors, including your nutritional status and predisposition to diabetes. While it may seem counterintuitive, alcohol is more likely to lower than raise blood glucose. However, metabolic changes attributable to alcohol can result in blood glucose extremes on either end, especially among sensitive groups like people with diabetes, alcohol abusers and chronic alcoholics.

    Can Diabetics Drink Wine Safely

    Pin on Better Life

    As you are probably aware, small amounts of alcohol may cause your blood sugar to rise but excess alcohol can actually decrease your blood sugar level causing it to drop into dangerous levels, especially if you suffer from type 1 diabetes.

    So, the recommendation is to check blood sugar before you drink, while you drink, and monitor it for up to 24 hours after drinking. If drinking wine makes you feel dizzy or weak, stop drinking right away.

    The best recipe lies in moderation. Two glasses of wine are sufficient for your condition. Plus, for diabetics, it is recommended to always eat while you drink.

    Which wine you drink matters as well. Some wines give you a headache while others can seriously increase the levels of sugar in your blood. Thats why it is important to read the labels and choose those types that are more suitable for your health condition.

    Learn more about sulphite free wine and how sulphites can affect your possible hangover.

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    How Does Alcohol Affect Your Blood Sugar

    Generally, alcohol will lower your blood sugar because it interferes with carbohydrate metabolism. This is true for people with or without diabetes.

    Your liver helps regulate blood sugar by releasing stored glucose into your bloodstream when you need an energy source.

    It does this in two ways:

    1. Gluconeogenesis< sup> 4< /sup> : The liver makes glucose from non-carbohydrate substances like amino acids

    2. Glycogenolysis< sup> 5< /sup> : Stored glucose is broken down and released into your blood.

    Alcohol inhibits these processes because your liver prioritizes metabolizing the alcohol< sup> 6< /sup> before anything else. As a result, your blood sugar drops. In fact, gluconeogenesis can drop by almost half after four drinks< sup> 7< /sup> .

    Interestingly, alcohol can also temporarily increase insulin sensitivity< sup> 8< /sup> , which can also lower blood sugar as the body pulls more glucose out of the blood.

    Several studies on light to moderate drinking for people with diabetes found that even with temporary lows, blood sugar regulation isnât significantly impacted< sup> 9< /sup> overall. And interestingly, some research suggests that because alcohol can temporarily increase insulin sensitivity, it may help people with blood sugar dysregulation< sup> 10< /sup> .

    Red Wine And Type 2 Diabetes

    Even though some alcoholic beverages increase blood glucose levels, research indicates that drinking red wine may actually be beneficial to those suffering from type 2 diabetes.

    In a recent study out of the Annals of Internal Medicine, it was found that drinking red wine in moderation can decrease the chances of developing heart disease in those suffering from type 2 diabetes.

    In this study, greater than 200 research participants were watched for up to 2 years. One group were instructed to drink a glass of red wine every day with supper, while others drank white wine and still others drank mineral water instead. All participants ate a Mediterranean-type diet that didnt restrict the intake of calories.

    The study lasted 2 years. After 2 years, those who drank red wine had elevated levels of HDL cholesterol and decreased total cholesterol than were found in people who drank white wine or only drank mineral water. There were also benefits in the blood glucose level in the red wine drinking population. Researchers believed that drinking moderate amounts of this type of alcoholic beverage along with eating a healthy diet may moderately decrease the risk of heart disease.

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    Red Wine Can Lower Blood Sugar

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    The Pancreas And Its Hormones

    The pancreas, which is located behind the stomach, serves two functions. The first function, which involves most of the pancreatic cells, is the production of digestive enzymes. Those enzymes are secreted directly into the gut to ensure effective food digestion. The second function is the production of several hormones. Two of the hormones are potent regulators of blood sugar levels. Both hormones are produced in areas of the pancreas called the Islets of Langerhans, which, quite literally, are islands of hormone-producing cells in a sea of digestive enzyme-producing cells. Among other cell types, the Islets of Langerhans include an inner core of insulin-producing beta cells surrounded by a layer of glucagon-producing alpha cells.

    Insulin primarily serves to lower blood sugar levels by promoting the uptake of sugar in the muscles and fat tissue as well as the conversion of glucose into its storage form, glycogen. In addition, insulin inhibits the production of more sugar molecules in the liver. Conversely, glucagon primarily serves to increase blood sugar levels. Accordingly, it promotes gluconeogenesis and the breakdown of glycogen into glucose. The actions of insulin and glucagon must be finely balanced, because both lower than normal blood sugar levels and higher than normal blood sugar levels can have deleterious effects on the body.

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    What Are The Recommended Alcohol Guidelines For People With Diabetes

    The guidelines are two units for women and three units for men. However, it is worth being aware how many units a drink contains.

    In some cases, a glass of wine will constitute two units, and a pint of beer can even reach three units.

    People with diabetes can drink alcohol and whether you decide to drink or how much you drink will be your personal choice. Different types of alcohol will affect blood sugar levels in different ways and this will largely be based on the carbohydrate content of each type.

    Beer has a tendency to push sugar levels up, particularly if you have more than a single pint.

    Wines tend to have less carbohydrate than beer so may have a less pronounced affect on sugar levels.

    Spirits on their ow, such as whiskey, vodka, rum and gin, have no significant carbs in and therefore shouldnt push blood sugar values up. If you have them with a mixer this will need to be taken into account.

    An important point to mention about alcohol and sugar levels is the sugar level crash that can happen particularly over night. A short term affect of alcohol is that it can stop it from raising blood sugar.

    A lot of people with diabetes find that after drinking this can cause sugar levels to drop. People who take diabetic medication, particularly insulin, need to be aware of this and may need to adjust doses to prevent hypoglycemia.

    Ask your health team if you need help or advice with avoiding low blood sugar levels after alcohol.

    Is Heavy Drinking A Concern For Blood Sugar

    The Alcohol and Diabetes Guide

    The health risks increase if you are a heavy drinker. Heavy drinking can lead to liver damage, impacting insulin production and secretion and how well your cells respond to signals from insulin.

    Research suggests that chronic drinkers can develop insulin resistance< sup> 14< /sup> because it interrupts insulin signaling and causes beta-cell damage. Beta-cells are found in your pancreas and are responsible for insulin secretion.

    Women with a history of binge drinking< sup> 15< /sup> may also be at higher risk for high blood sugar.

    One study found that women who drank more and participated in binge drinking were more likely to have high blood sugar< sup> 16< /sup> regardless of how much they weighed or if they had other health concerns like smoking or hypertension. Interestingly, the same results werenât seen for men who only had associations with high blood sugar and BMI or blood pressure. However, men in the study had higher glucose levels and alcoholic intake than women overall.

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    Heavy Alcohol Use And Diabetes

    As stated above, glucose is used as an energy source for your muscle and liver cells. If you consume a lot of alcohol and you become hypoglycemic you can wipe out your energy storage in just a few hours. Excessive alcohol consumption can reduce the overall effectiveness of insulin. This results in high blood sugar levels. Many people who have been diagnosed with alcoholic liver disease also have either glucose intolerance or diabetes.

    Individuals who have been diagnosed with diabetes have to be very careful when it comes to drinking alcohol. Always consult with your physician about the risk alcohol can have on your body and with your medications. Some medications are not compatible with alcohol consumption. People with diabetes should be sure to pay attention to any potential warning of hypoglycemia.

    For diabetics, the American Diabetes Association has guidelines regarding how much alcohol they should drink and recommendations on when to drink to avoid complications. Some of these recommendations include:

    • No more than one drink per day for women
    • Diabetics should not drink when their blood sugar levels are low or when they have an empty stomach
    • Certain types of alcoholic beverages may be more detrimental for people with diabetes, including heavy craft beers due to the number of carbs and sugar that are in alcohol.

    Diabetes Blood Sugar And Red Wine A Personal Study

    Retired in 2015 as professor of health statistics at the University of York, following academic posts at St George’s and St Thomas’s Hospital Medical Schools and in industry with ICI. He is co-author of 297 refereed papers , the Statistics Notes series in the British Medical Journal, and two textbooks. He continues statistical life at York as professor emeritus.

    Retired in 2015 as professor of health statistics at the University of York, following academic posts at St George’s and St Thomas’s Hospital Medical Schools and in industry with ICI. He is co-author of 297 refereed papers , the Statistics Notes series in the British Medical Journal, and two textbooks. He continues statistical life at York as professor emeritus.

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