We know how the effects of alcohol can impact the body. From tissue, to how organs function, and to hormones, alcohol has the ability to negatively impact all of them, and more. But what exactly does alcohol do to blood sugar? And just how destructive are those effects long-term?
To understand how destructive alcohol is to blood sugar, you first have to understand exactly what it is that is being damaged. Glucose is the energy source for the body. The level of glucose in the body's blood is partially regulated by hormones. Without the right amount of glucose the body beings to suffer. One of the areas that is largely affected by a lack of glucose is the brain since the brain does not have the capability to manufacture or store glucose.
When an individual consumes alcohol, the alcohol interferes with the sources of glucose and how it's supply is regulated by hormones. This is further inhibited by the fact that alcoholics typically are not very interested in proper nutrition. Therefore, they are not getting the right amount of glucose from their choices of foods. Now, the effects of alcohol are interfering in two ways.
Alcoholics have a common tendency to skip meals because they are "drinking" them. This is interference number three. As an alcoholic is drinking, the body's glucose supply is restricted because the body is so focused on trying to metabolize the alcohol. Interference number four.
When you take numbers three and four and combine them, this is what is happening while the body is simultaneously experiencing episodes of very low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia. These episodes can hit a few hours after a period of heavy drinking, or they can be held off for even as long as a day or two.
As if the concept of a hypoglycemic episode wasn't enough, the body is unable to counteract the effects of the low blood sugar because the presence of massive amounts of alcohol are impeding it. Hormones, which would normally be called in to help out are restricted by alcohol. Interference number five.
All of these reasons are why many alcoholics can eventually develop Type 2 diabetes.
Many people harbor the belief that only acute alcoholics or those who have other health issues are at risk of having their blood sugar affected so dramatically. This could not be farther from the truth. Alcohol can affect the blood sugar levels in the healthiest of individuals, no matter what their medical history is or their level of fitness.
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