What’s alcohol got to do with diabetes? Here’s the truth


What’s alcohol got to do with diabetes? Here’s the truth. Photo | Photosearch

What you need to know:

Cinnamon contains an ingredient called MCHP, which mimics the action of insulin and therefore increases glucose metabolism.

Today I want to talk about Caroline, a 44-year-old woman, who took three different medications for her diabetes, two for her blood pressure (most likely caused by diabetes), and another for her cholesterol. 


You see, while Caroline was relatively healthy now, for years she’d been a heavy drinker (something women will rarely admit to). Believe it or not, more than 2-3 units in any night is considered too much even though the weekly allowance for a woman is 14 units (one unit is a measure of spirits, a glass of wine, or a 300ml bottle of beer). It’s also worth knowing that saving up your week’s allowance and drinking it all in one night is a massive no-no. 


What’s alcohol got to do with diabetes? While moderate amounts of alcohol can cause blood sugar to rise (especially true of beer and sweet wine), too much alcohol can actually decrease your blood sugar level - sometimes causing it to drop to dangerous levels. Furthermore, as we all know, alcohol stimulates your appetite – and chances are, you’ll eat exactly the wrong things.


So what should Caroline do now? Let’s start with her cholesterol. By eating an apple, a carrot, and a bowl of oats every day, Caroline would be eating more soluble fibre, the kind of fibre that helps to carry cholesterol away. This type of fibre also helps to slow sugar release into the bloodstream, so it can benefit diabetics too. She could also make sure she drinks more water – eight glasses net. What do I mean by net? That means the number of glasses of water minus dehydrating beverages like tea, coffee, other caffeinated drinks, and alcohol. Sometimes it’s simply easier to cut the latter down rather than trying to guzzle four litres of water every day. The water is to help her blood pressure.


Stress reduction is also an important part of controlling blood pressure. Learning to let go of the things you can’t change often makes a huge difference to ‘driven’ personalities. In the words of the Serenity Prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can’t and wisdom to know the difference.


And one thing that can be changed is diet; the goal is to make it low glycaemic: eating carbohydrates that provide a slow release of sugar (e.g. brown rice) with lean protein foods (such as chicken or lentils). 


The last thing I suggested for Caroline was cinnamon. Cinnamon contains an ingredient called MCHP, which mimics the action of insulin and therefore increases glucose metabolism. Studies have shown that just half a teaspoon daily is enough to lower blood glucose. 



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