Alcoholism and Hypoglycemia


alcoholism and hypoglycemiaAs blood swirls through the body, it delivers energy to cells both large and small. This energy is commonly measured in terms of sugar, and when that sugar content dips low, the term “hypoglycemia” applies. People with this condition feel irritable, agitated, anxious or depressed, and they may be desperate for something sweet that could bring relief. Unfortunately, this seems to be a common condition for people with long-term alcoholism issues, and recovery can be complicated.

Frequent Source of Distress

In an article produced by the Hypoglycemia Support Foundation, Inc., the author suggests that the link between alcoholism and hypoglycemia has been noted by several prominent authors, including Dr. Atkins of the self-named diet and Dr. Harvey M. Ross who wrote a handbook for doctors on the subject of low blood sugar. In one striking quote provided from the book Under the Influence on the Hypoglycemia Support Foundation website, Dr. James R. Milam suggests that the majority of alcoholics have low blood sugar issues. He writes, “When given a five-hour glucose tolerance test, over 95 percent of both early and late-stage alcoholics, experience a spike in blood sugar levels after intake of sugar and then a rapid plunge.”

Alcoholism has been linked to blood sugar problems because alcohol can damage the liver, impairing the body’s ability to keep energy levels stable over time. In addition, researchers in Sweden found that alcohol seems to flick a switch in the body, forcing a change in the amount of sugar that’s released into the blood stream. If the body isn’t producing much sugar, and it isn’t releasing the sugar it has produced, it’s easy to see how a person’s health might suffer.

Substituting for Alcohol

While hypoglycemia might be acute in people who continue to drink, those who move into recovery might take their bad habits with them, substituting sweets or carbs for alcohol. Instead of eating healthy fruits, they might focus on cookies or cake. Rather than eating a protein-rich omelet, they might eat a donut. The underlying damage is to blame, but it could lead to weight gain, heart problems and a slippery slope that leads directly to diabetes.

Good Solutions

Entering a treatment program for addiction is the best way to help stop the cycle and allow people to regain their health. In treatment, they can leave alcohol behind, so they won’t continue to harm their bodies and impair their ability to produce and process blood sugars. Changing eating habits in recovery might also be a helpful step. People might work to:

  • Eat 25 to 30 grams of protein per meal.
  • Get four or more cups of low-carb veggies each day.
  • Focus on good fats.
  • Limit starchy veggies, legumes and fruit.
  • Drink water or herbal tea, rather than sugary drinks.
  • Choose local, organic, grass-fed meats.
  • Seek out seasonal, local, organic fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid refined carbs, bad fats and processed foods.
  • Eat slowly and sit down to get enjoyment from food.

At The Canyon, we know that nutritional support is vital for long-term recovery from alcoholism. That’s why we offer our clients fresh, organic foods that are sourced locally and prepared expertly. We also provide a nutritional assessment during the intake portion of the treatment program, ensuring that we understand what our clients need to eat in order to heal.

If you are, or someone you love is, battling alcoholism, call The Canyon at our toll-free number. Our admissions coordinators are available to take your call 24 hours a day and answer any questions you have about treatment, financing or insurance.