Triglycerides and Alcohol Consumption – The Dangerous Connection

Does alcohol affect triglyceride levels?

Yes, alcohol use, beer, and alcohol red wine do affect triglyceride levels and in the wrong way (they raise your triglyceride levels) when consumed beyond the recommended intake. Alcohol abuse can have a disastrous effect and can give you high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which is beset with life-threatening complications.

Heavy drinkers, whether regular or occasional, have an unhealthy lipid profile. They exhibit high levels of triglycerides and LDL, the bad cholesterol and a fall in HDL, the protective or good cholesterol.

Moderate alcohol consumption may keep your triglycerides in control. But, in sensitive individuals, even a drink can send the triglyceride levels soaring.

It is the amount and the pattern of drinking that is more relevant than the type of alcohol.

In most individuals, moderate drinking hardly has any effect on triglycerides and may even lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.

It is the high or excessive alcohol consumption that can cause hypertriglyceridemia not only in postprandial blood but also in the fasting sample.

If you already have high triglycerides, you may want to abstain altogether.

How does alcohol cause increase in triglycerides?

There are three ways drinking alcohol can raise your triglyceride levels. Before we go into that, know that alcohol is quickly absorbed but, it takes the healthy liver one hour to metabolize 25 ml of alcohol. When you down two large drinks (60 ml each) in an hour’s period, it will take the liver more than 4 hours to metabolize that much amount of alcohol, which is already floating in the bloodstream.

  1. The intake of empty calories from alcohol puts an additional load on the liver because these calories are quickly digested and taken to the liver to be metabolized. Due to this additional burden, the liver is not able to metabolize the fatty acids in the blood promptly, which keep accumulating causing triglyceride levels to increase.
  2. Alcohol has a damaging effect on the structure of the liver cells. This affects the efficiency of the liver to process fats and subsequently, triglycerides start accumulating in the blood causing their levels to rise. This is how fatty liver starts setting in.
  3. The third way alcohol can increase triglyceride levels happens in those who are in the habit of chewing fatty snacks with their drinks. Snacks like chips, nuts, nachos, french fries. These foods high in salt and fat add more calories and get processed into triglycerides. They also add an extra burden on the already burdened liver.

What is excessive drinking?

A man can be described as heavy drinker when he consumes five drinks or more in one single day or 15 drinks or more in one week.

The woman makes the same changeover from a moderate drinker to an excessive drinker when she consumes four drinks or more in one single day or eight drinks or more in one single week.

 Which is the best alcohol for high triglycerides?

All types of alcohol act in the same fashion no matter its source – whether it is hard liquor or beer or wine.

They all have a damaging effect on the liver, which causes your high triglycerides to accumulate and rise further. And since your triglyceride level is already high, you really should not drink any alcohol.

Triglyceride levels, beer, and alcoholic red wine

Red wine is known for its cardiovascular benefits, but a lesser known fact, which remains behind the curtain, is that beer too, is equally beneficial for the heart. Studies have concluded that beer potentially reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Recent research has found that the hops and other phytochemicals used in the manufacturing of beer contain stem cells known as “circulating endothelial progenitor cells”. They repair and maintain the structure and function of blood vessel wall.

The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry of the American Chemical Society in its September issue of 2000 reports a discovery in which the scientists found the presence of chemical entities called prenylated flavonoids, which are a better source of antioxidants than red wine, green tea, and soy products.

They help prevent high cholesterol, heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

These benefits are limited to those with the recommended intake only. Beyond that, beer increases your triglycerides and making you prone to heart disease and stroke.

Recommended guidelines for hard liquor, regular beer, and wine

Moderate alcohol use for healthy adults is defined as:

  • Up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65 years
  • Up to two drinks a day for men of age 65 years and younger.

One drink equals

  • Mild beer: 12 ounces of regular beer containing 5% alcohol (355 milliliters)
  • Wine: 5 fluid ounces (148 milliliters)
  • Distilled spirits (80 proof, 40 to 45%  alcohol ): 1.5 fluid ounces (44 milliliters). Examples include vodka, gin, tequila, rum, whiskey, brandy.

Moderate doses of beer may also exert beneficial effects on atherosclerosis development by altering lipoprotein metabolism.

Crossing these drinking limits increases your triglyceride levels and your risk of cardiovascular disease. The more you drink the more your triglyceride numbers rise, potentially increasing your risk at the same time.

Can I drink alcohol if I have high triglycerides? What can I do?

No, you should not drink alcohol if you have high triglyceride levels in your blood.

But, it can be worked around if you are ready to follow certain corrective steps and you also wish to enjoy your drink.

You will have to make some therapeutic changes in your life. Keep these changes sustained and consistent all your life.

  1. Follow the low-fat, low glycemic and high fiber triglyceride diet consisting of low-fat foods and dairy, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and cereals. Avoid foods that contain saturated fats.
  2. Exercise daily for 30 to 40 minutes. They should be aerobic exercises with a little bit of strength training.
  3. Incorporate healthy habits and discard the unhealthy ones. Do not smoke and do not drink alcohol till your levels have reached desirable levels.
  4. Maintain a healthy weight.

Give these nonmedical therapies about 12 weeks to bring your levels to normal. If they haven’t, contact your doctor who may you put on medication.

With medication, continue with your above mentioned four nonmedical therapeutic life changes. They are to be your companions throughout life.

Once your levels are normal and stabilized, you can drink within the recommended limits only. Do not be tempted into binge drinking. It will spike your triglyceride levels the very next day.

Again, if your triglycerides are under control with prescription meds and you wish to drink, should you?

If you start triglyceride reducing medication but don’t make the necessary changes to your diet and lifestyle, then alcohol will make your meds less effective and you will be making yourself prone to complications such as heart attack, stroke, and diabetes.

Again, if you have a fatty liver, then there is no room for alcohol in your life at least for now because fatty liver indicates a damaged liver.

Once you have attained your healthy triglyceride levels with TLC, you can have your recommended intake of your favorite drink.

  • If you take your whiskey with soda, use water instead or at least opt in for club soda to keep your calorie and sugar intake down.
  • If you are a beer drinker, go in for a lite beer and stick to the recommended limits.
  • If you drink wine, you can take it with any color but, again stay within the limits.
  • And, avoid those fatty snacks

Ideally, it is best to refrain altogether because there is always the temptation to cross the limits and binge drink, maybe rarely initially but more often later. These things do take their toll on your overall and future health. High triglycerides and alcohol just don’t mix.

 

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