Your Questions About High Triglycerides and Alcohol

William asks…

Are high triglycerides caused by alcohol consumption ?

and if so can cutting back reduce the problem ?

Sheila answers:

The answer to both your questions is yes and you can find further information in a web search for “high triglycerides” + alcohol. In order to prevent high triglycerides as a result of drinking alcohol, you need to either not drink at all or limit your drinking to one serving.

Thomas asks…

Can a person with very high triglycerides drink alcohol?

Sheila answers:

No. That would not be wise, and could cause permanent damage and death.  Drinking alcohol in this situation is strongly discouraged.

Carol asks…

If a person have very high triglycerides and they drink alcohol, what are the consequences?

Sheila answers:

Alcohol in addition to high triglycerides damages the liver. You could go into liver failure and eventually die.  It would very dangerous to drink with high triglycerides.

Sandy asks…

Does alcohol contribute to high triglycerides?

Sheila answers:

Yes. Just one drink of alcohol can increase triglycerides in susceptible people. If you have elevated triglycerides and consume alcohol – a reduced intake or not drinking alcohol at all is strongly advised. Alcohol are a source of excess calories which are being turned into fat – usually, triglycerides, so the fat levels in your blood go up. Researchers have found that apart from adding calories to the diet, alcohol also prevents the burning of fat.

According to a Swiss study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, booze in the bloodstream can slow down fat metabolism more than 30 percent. Plus, alcohol drinkers don’t just drink alcohol – usually, they have it with chips or peanuts.

When alcohol (ethanol) is present in the blood, the liver prioritizes removing alcohol from the blood over other metabolic processes.
The liver can detoxify about one ounce of alcohol (distilled spirits) per hour, which is about 1 serving of an alcoholic beferage (equivalent to 12 ounces of beer or 4 ounces of wine).

In the meantime, however, glucose tends to be further processed into triglycerides which raises their blood levels (some drinks may contain fruit, syrups, or other additives that increase their carbohydrate count, thus, triglyceride levels).

Alcohol reduces the amount of the enzyme that breaks down triglycerides and spurs the liver to make more triglycerides. Some people have increased susceptibility to developing raised triglycerides in response to alcohol. So if you do not require insulin, or are not diabetic, and consume alcohol regularly, you may be able to lower your elevated triglycerides just by avoiding alcohol.

By taxing the liver and reducing the ability to detoxify blood, alcohol causes more harm to blood vessels. When the liver is busy processing alcohol, it is less able to process cholesterol. As a result, LDL-”bad” cholesterol levels go up. In addition, alcohol will potentiate the toxicity of cholesterol-lowering medications much more than the drugs would do alone. Actually, this is the major problem with the statins. By drinking alcohol daily, you may increase your chances of serious statin side effects, especially liver problems.

Therefore, to protect your liver, you should go easy on alcohol or avoid it completely while taking a statin.

It brings up two general misconceptions about beer drinking:

•First, that beer is harmless, because it’s only 5 percent alcohol, compared to 40 percent for whiskey.

Not quite so. Keep in mind, there’s as much alcohol in a can beer as in a shot of whiskey. Additionally, regular beer contains both alcohol and carbohydrates

•Second, consuming the beer over a long period of time will have little effect on one’s sobriety.

Not so. It takes hours for the body to eliminate even small amounts of alcohol. So, if you are a six-pack-a-day person, by the time you pop the last can at the end of the day, your blood alcohol level may be dangerously high.

 You also must consider the calories added to the diet by regular alcohol use. For example, in one study, half a bottle of white wine (39 g ethyl alcohol) consumed daily for 42 days represented the equivalent of 3 lbs of additional weight over 6 weeks, or approximately 27 lbs per year! (Lancet. 1983; ii: 819-82).

Source: Alcohol Drinking Patterns Differentially Affect Central Adiposity as Measured by Abdominal Height in Women and Men. The American Society for Nutritional Sciences J. Nutr. 133:2655-2662, August 2003. (
http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4778)

Joseph asks…

What would cause triglycerides to be high if you don’t eat sugar or alcohol?

Do I have to cut out fruit too? I don’t eat that much as it is.

Sheila answers:

If you also have Low Density Lipoproteins, your triglycerides can be elevated.  Plus other foods such as those containing Saturated Fats, and Processed Foods which contain High Fructose Corn Syrup and Refined or processed carbs like white bread, white rice and white pasta.

You can avoid this by eating simple carbs like vegetables, whole grain pastas, brown rice, and whole grain bread.

Another thing is to minimize your intake of high glycemic fruits and focus on the ones low in sugar and low on the glycemic index such as apples, berries, oranges, melons, and papaya’s. You also want to eat items high in fiber, healthy fats, and proteins.

Lack of exercise is a major contributor.

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