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September 11, 2001

Meal Planning, Food and Diet

Question from Waukesha, Wisconsin, USA:

I was wondering about the effects on blood sugars due to alcohol and other drugs. I have had different doctors give me different answers -- one said it raises them, and the others have said that it lowers them. So what really happens?


Alcohol does both. Acutely, the blood sugars rise with the intake of carbohydrates related to the beverages being consumed. Four or more hours later, the pharmacologic effect of the alcohol causes a decrease in the output of glucose by the liver and can be the source of serious hypoglycemia if care is not taken to avoid this. Specifically, it is a good idea to eat with alcohol to provide extra carbohydrates. Always drink in moderation. Don’t let yourself become intoxicated as you will not recognize low sugars under these conditions.


[Editor’s comment: And, never drink then drive — either intoxication or hypoglycemia could get you in a whole bunch of trouble.