Alcohol, Blood Sugars and Hypoglycemia: What You Should Know

Acute alcohol intoxication also produces whole-body insulin resistance in rats [12,116] and the alcohol effect appears to be dose-dependent [117,118,119]. As the alcohol-induced impairment was recapitulated by t-butanol (a non-metabolizable alcohol) and not antagonized by 4-methylpyrazole, the insulin resistance was likely mediated by alcohol and not one of its oxidative metabolites [117]. Furthermore, numerous studies have also demonstrated impaired whole-body IMGU in chronic alcohol-fed rats and mice [14,15,28,118,119,120,121]. Chronic alcohol-fed mice also show whole-body insulin resistance, as assessed using an insulin tolerance test [100].

While moderate alcohol consumption lowers blood sugar, heavy consumption is harmful to diabetes and other aspects of health. Plasma glucose and insulin concentrations did not change during the OATT, and hypoglycemia was not identified (Table S1). There were no differences in plasma glucose or ethanol fluctuations between the sexes, participants with differing alcohol‐metabolism genotypes, or participants with differing alcohol consumption habits. At each visit, we collected blood before loading, and 15, 30, 60, 120 and 180 min after loading, to measure plasma glucose, IRI, triglyceride and ethanol concentrations.

  1. Two additional medications—metformin and troglitazone—are now being used to treat people with type 2 diabetes.
  2. This means drinking can make it even harder for people with type 2 diabetes—which is defined by elevated glucose levels—to manage their blood sugar.
  3. Over time, excessive alcohol consumption can reduce the overall effectiveness of insulin.
  4. Providing glucose by ingestion of uncooked cornstarch or intragastric glucose infusion may be necessary in some patients.
  5. The liver normally re-incorporates free fatty acids into triglycerides, which are then packaged and secreted as part of a group of particles called very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL).

If your blood sugar drops below the healthy range, it causes certain symptoms like shakiness and a faster heartbeat and can be life-threatening if it goes too low. This is because your brain needs a continuous supply of glucose to function properly. For most people without diabetes, hypoglycemia is when your blood sugar level is below 55 mg/dL or 3.1 mmol/L.

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. If you’re experiencing low blood sugar and don’t have diabetes, you should see your healthcare provider. While it’s rare that the underlying cause is a serious condition, it’s possible.

Benefits of Alcohol in Type 2 Diabetes

Further studies are required to confirm the mechanisms of this reactive hypoglycemia. Basal glycogen content in skeletal muscle has most often been reported to be unaltered by chronic alcohol ingestion [62,63], but some studies have shown elevated glycogen content [64] in the absence of overt symptoms of alcoholic myopathy. Neither acute alcohol intoxication [25] nor chronic alcohol feeding for 6 weeks in rats alters basal muscle glycogen content [65], despite the ability of acute alcohol to antagonize glucose-stimulated glycogen repletion in skeletal muscle [66]. If you have diabetes, drinking alcohol may be safe for you as long as you choose the right types of drinks and consider alcohol’s effects on your blood sugar levels. Alcohol can cause blood glucose levels to rise or fall, depending on how much you drink.

Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar)

People with diabetes have to be very careful when it comes to drinking alcohol. It is a good idea for them to talk with a doctor so that they thoroughly understand the risks involved. In an average person, the liver breaks down roughly one standard alcoholic drink per hour. Any alcohol that the liver does how to create a meaningful life in 7 days and make not break down is removed by the lungs, kidneys, and skin through urine and sweat. Too much drinking, on the other hand (more than three drinks daily), can lead to higher blood glucose and A1C. Take a look at the numbers and you’ll find that only moderate drinkers have less cardiovascular disease.

Your healthcare provider will tell you how much alcohol is safe for you to drink. In some cases, women with diabetes may have no more than one alcoholic beverage a day. Alcohol impairs your liver’s ability to produce glucose, so be sure to know your alcoholics nose: what it is & its causes blood glucose number before you drink an alcoholic beverage. Alcohol is a depressant that impacts how your brain communicates with your body. If you have a history of depression or depressive symptoms, drinking alcohol can worsen your condition.

For many people, a fasting blood sugar of 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or 3.9 millimoles per liter (mmol/L), or below should serve as an alert for hypoglycemia. Untreated hypoglycemia can lead to severe and long-term health problems, which is why it is crucial to keep blood sugar levels within a typical range. Severe hypoglycemia occurs when someone has very low blood glucose levels.


Consider other modes of public transportation, perhaps a cab or subway, to get home safely. Certain diabetes medications, such as insulin and sulfonylureas, can increase your risk of hypoglycemia, and alcohol further affects that risk. If you’re taking medication, talk with your doctor about whether and how you can safely drink alcohol.

It may sound harsh, but it’s advice that any healthcare provider is likely to give. The important thing to understand, though, is that this presumed benefit is just a theory. There is no research to show a definite link between drinking red wine and improved diabetes management. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps cells absorb the sugar they need for energy. Alcohol is absorbed directly into the bloodstream from the stomach or the small intestine, carried through the body, and delivered to the liver. Most importantly, if individuals wish to engage in moderate drinking, they should first discuss it with their doctor.

Signs and symptoms

If you do drink these with alcohol, your blood sugar may spike and then dip to dangerously low levels. Moderate wine intake in people with diabetes is linked to a reduced risk of heart disease (3, 16). A medical evaluation usually is done to see if symptoms are caused by low blood sugar, and if so, whether symptoms get better when blood sugar returns to normal. The following information is written to be of use for people that have an increased risk of hypoglycemia, such as those that take insulin, sulfoylureas and prandial glucose regulators.

Diabetes and Alcohol: Do They Mix?

This article lists 10 types of alcohol that are most appropriate for people with diabetes, based on carb content, as well as a few drink types to avoid. The 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans define moderate alcohol intake as up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men (7). Reactive hypoglycemia, sometimes called postprandial hypoglycemia, happens when blood sugar drops after a meal — usually within four hours after eating. 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.

First, alcohol likely stimulates the generation of VLDL particles in the liver, which are rich in triglycerides. Third, alcohol may enhance the increase in triglyceride levels in the blood that usually occurs after a meal. Blood glucose regulation by insulin in healthy people and in people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. NA, data not available; OATT, 20‐g alcohol tolerance test; OGATT, alcoholism anger management: mental health and addiction combined 75‐g glucose and 20‐g alcohol tolerance test. Because many of the symptoms of hypoglycemia—such as slurred speech, drowsiness, confusion, or difficulty walking—are also symptoms of being drunk, it can be difficult to tell the two apart. And if you often have hypoglycemia unawareness, a condition in which you don’t recognize you’re going low, drinking becomes especially dicey.

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