Alcohol can cause problems all the way from weight gain to alcoholism for anyone who drinks it, but a special danger awaits insulin-dependent diabetics.

First, it can cause hypoglycemia because it inhibits gluconeogenesis, the making of blood sugar from protein. Since I live on the cusp of ketosis, I depend on gluconeogenesis to maintain my blood sugar. However, if I have a couple of glasses of wine at 1.5oz of alcohol per glass, my liver is too busy detoxifying the alcohol at about 1.5oz per hour to perform gluconeogenesis, so I'm vulnerable to hypoglycemia for at least a couple of hours.  If I drink, I make frequent blood sugar checks to avoid potentially severe hypoglycemia.

Second, alcohol is empty calories, providing all the stress of, say, sugar (even though its metabolism does not involve insulin directly).  There is something addictive about these empty calories that diabetics are drawn to - sugar and refined flour probably cause the condition in the first place, and a disproportionate number of Type II diabetics are either carbohydrate cravers or alcoholics. Further, 80% of diabetics are overweight at diagnosis.  Alcohol is likely to damage the diabetic metabolism further.

Partial Protection with Supplements

B-complex vitamins at the100mg level help with alcohol because each molecule of alcohol takes one molecule each of B1 and one molecule of B3 to metabolize. Of course these are recycled to some extent, but why risk a temporary deficiency?  Recollect while you still can that alcohol causes Korsakoff's psychosis (total memory loss) by tying up all available B1 which somehow destroys the mammillary bodies of the brainstem.

Then there's alcohol's inflammatory effect on the stomach lining.  Alcohol, sugar, aspirin and caffeine all inflame the stomach lining, allowing undigested molecules like the congeners which give drinks their taste into the bloodstream, where they can cause adverse reactions.  Some believe this effect contributes to hangovers.  Experiments have shown that evening primrose oil and vitamin C vitiate this inflammation, probably by promoting prostaglandin E1 which is a potent anti-inflammatory agent.

Alcohol is a diuretic. Magnesium is lost in the urine; since magnesium is not stored in the body, it is prudent to maintain a plentiful supply.  Since calcium and magnesium are synergistic and necessary for each other's absorption, they should be taken in something near a 1:1 ratio.

The detoxification of the acetaldehyde made from alcohol in the liver requires a methyl group supplied by a sulphur-containing amino acid such as cysteine or methionine.  N-acetyl-cysteine is expensive, but it protected all rats exposed to near-lethal doses of alcohol, while cysteine itself protected only 90%.  The rationale for this is best laid out Smart Drug News, 12/13/96, vol 5 no 5 available from the back issues page of the Cognitive Enhancement Research Institute site.  Basically, it’s a precursor of glutathione, the premier intracellular antioxidant which helps detoxify poison molecules.  Without it, cells die.  In Tylenol poisoning, N-acetyl cysteine is the remedy used in emergency rooms to prevent liver failure.  Liposomal Glutathione may be the newest, bestest source.

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