Alcohol and Hypoglycemia:
If you are a diabetic taking insulin or oral medication, you’ve a greater chance of developing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) with alcohol intake. Always consult your healthcare provider if it’s OK to combine alcohol with your insulin or oral diabetic medications. You should be aware that alcohol can cause hypoglycemia even 24 hours after its consumption.
Liver plays a very important role in regulating our blood glucose. It serves two important functions in this context.
Normally, when our blood sugar gets too low, liver steps in immediately and starts releasing stored glucose into the blood stream.
It’s the major site where alcohol is processed or metabolized after entering our body.
Alcohol interferes with liver’s ability to release stored glucose. Our body treats alcohol as a toxin and will try to get rid of it as quickly as possible. So once alcohol reaches the liver, the enzymes immediately start working to metabolize it. Liver will not perform the function of releasing stored glucose until all the alcohol is cleared from the body. That’s why having as little as one drink on an empty stomach can cause severe hypoglycemia.
Taking alcohol with food will serve two functions:
If you get hypoglycemic after drinking, keep in mind that glucagon shot will not work in this case. Glucagon injections treat hypoglycemia caused by insulin overdose by making the liver release more glucose in blood. But alcohol blocks this process. That’s why it’s extremely important that you carry glucose tablets or any other source of sugar with you at all times. If you lose consciousness due to hypoglycemia after drinking, you’ll need glucose injected into your blood stream by a healthcare provider.
Alcohol and Liver:
When you drink alcohol your liver works hard to remove it from the bloodstream. Heavy alcohol intake over time can also damage your liver called cirrhosis, making it hard for the liver to produce glucose and regulate blood sugar.
Alcohol and Pancreas:
Heavy alcohol intake can cause inflammation in your pancreas causing a condition called pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is a serious condition that can damage pancreas overtime and cause diabetes, if you are not already diabetic. Pancreas is an organ that is already stressed in a diabetic. Alcohol further stresses it making it difficult to maintain healthy glucose levels.
Alcohol and Weight Gain:
Alcohol contains a lot of empty calories, which means calories without nutrients. Drinking more than the recommended amount adds a lot of calories to your body, which are then stored as fat causing weight gain. Weight gain in a diabetic makes it more difficult to regulate blood glucose levels. Alcohol also increases the level of triglyceride in your blood which increases the risk of heart disease.