The Hypoglycemic and Alcohol

Was it alcohol? Early commuters were literally stepping over an unconscious man at a Surrey skytrain station one morning. Though he appeared drunk, the man was actually hypoglycemic and suffering from low blood sugar. Though the man had not consumed any alcohol, his failure to eat or eating too many simple sugars probably caused his blood sugar to drop.

This can happen when hypoglycemic people drink alcohol. The high sugar content of some alcoholic drinks alone can some people’s blood sugar to drop so fast that they do appear intoxicated. This is because over consumption of sugar causes the pancreas to release too much insulin into the blood stream.

This is why many people feel groggy or “dinner drunk” after a few drinks, a sweet snack or highly processed carbohydrate meal (like a milk shake and French fries). It is more of the “sugar low” than the actual alcohol that brings on the grogginess. Usually, while drinking, the hypoglycemic drinker feels tired, but not hungry. So, they often reach for another drink for a temporary energy boost. (They might even think that their “low fat” intake is doing them a favor. Instead, the alcohol are quickly stored as body fat.)

Even on a hot day, a “barley sandwich” can take the edge off of the heat and have a calming effect. But, this calm is sometimes a hypoglycemic reaction. To counter this low blood- sugar effect, it is important to eat something while drinking. Also, naturopathic Dr. Logan Sisk, recommends adding chromium in food or supplements to stabilize blood sugar. That and a high protein diet.

Hypoglycemia is often masked by several symptoms: The symptoms can vary depending on how low the blood sugar level drops.

Mild hypoglycemia can cause nausea, nervous feelings, cold and clammy skin, sweating, hunger and rapid heartbeat. (I have felt this after instructing 3 fitness classes and without eating for over 5 hours.)

Moderate hypoglycemia often makes you feel irritable, anxious, or confused. You may have blurred vision, feel unsteady, and have difficulty walking.

Severe hypoglycemia can lead to loss of consciousness, seizures, and coma-and it may be fatal.

Being aware of the hypoglycemic effects of alcohol can allow one to still enjoy alcohol while preventing medical problems. More important, it can help with assisting someone with this condition.

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