Alcohol Lowers Fasting Blood Glucose, Which Is Not Necessarily A Good Thing

Anyone who works in the diabetes field knows that drinking alcohol lowers blood glucose. But that is not necessarily a good thing. From the University of California:

Normally, the liver releases glucose to maintain blood sugar levels. But when you drink alcohol, the liver is busy breaking the alcohol down, so it does a poor job of releasing glucose into the bloodstream. This can lead to a drop in blood sugar levels if you are drinking alcohol on an empty stomach.

Each alcoholic beverage takes about 1-1.5 hours to finish processing in the liver. For that entire time, the risk of low blood sugar exists. So, if you have 2 drinks, you double that time to 2 to 3 hours that you are at risk for low blood sugar. The more alcohol consumed, the bigger the risk for serious low blood sugar.

It’s really bad if someone is on insulin, or insulin-lowering pills. They could pass out.

Why isn’t alcohol-induced low blood glucose a good thing?

When your liver breaks down alcohol, it turns the alcohol into fat. That means drinking alcohol can make you gain weight. At 7 calories per gram, alcohol is nearly as calorie-dense as fat (9 calories per gram). That’s where that beer belly comes from! Alcohol use can also lead to elevated blood fats, or triglycerides, which raises your heart disease risk.

That’s right. Every time you drink alcohol, you deposit fat around your midsection. And inside your liver. A fatty liver can lead to a fatty inflamed liver (alcoholic steatohepatitis), and eventually to an irreversibly scarred liver (cirrhosis).

Drinking alcohol is only one contributor to development of fatty liver and liver disease. The other things you do with your life (like diet, exercise, smoking, pollution) can inhibit or hasten alcohol’s affect.

Alcohol doesn’t lower the risk for diabetes, it masks the risk. Diabetes is not a disease of blood glucose levels, that’s only a marker. Diabetes is a disease of blood vessels, the microvasculature.

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