You open the front door: your nostrils immediately fill with the smell of smoke and alcohol as you step over carved pumpkins and candy strewn across the floor of the house. Strobe lights flicker as the walls vibrate to the beat of the bass, and you catch a glimpse of Superman dancing with a mermaid and Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz,” drinks in hand. It’s that time of the year again, when the future leaders of the United States of America dance and drink their school-time stress away while pounding some peanut butter cups and candied apples on the side.
Halloween is an especially celebrated collegiate tradition in which many students spookily “dress to impress” in costumes made to scare, surprise or seduce their friends. But there is a dangerous element to this particular kind of celebration: the combination of alcoholic beverages and candy.
Sugar, or glucose, is basically the energy source of our body. When we ingest anything, it affects our blood sugar content, or the amount of energy in our bloodstream. When we ingest high amounts of glucose, the body responds by secreting the hormone insulin, to bind the extra glucose and signal glucose transporters in individual cells to use this energy. So when you are eating that handful of chocolate at a party, your body’s insulin kicks-in to use that energy and stabilize your blood sugar levels. But if that process is inhibited, your cells will not receive energy and your blood sugar will skyrocket.
So what happens when you have an alcoholic beverage in conjunction with high amounts of sugar in your blood? According to medicine.net, the body deals with alcohol as if it is a poison and redirects its focus to ridding the body of any poisonous substance.
Let’s imagine a different scenario. You’ve been fasting all day to look good in that Princess Leia outfit, but can’t wait to have that rewarding drink to kick off the night. The effects of alcohol on an empty stomach can have even more dramatic effects than high sugar content in the blood. Your blood alcohol content can increase at a much higher rate, but your blood sugar content can be inversely affected, lowering much faster to the point of shakiness, nausea and eventually unconsciousness. This can increase your chances of alcohol poisoning.
It is important to listen to your body all the time, but especially when it could be telling you that you are about to pass out. If you do have the symptoms of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), it is important not to ignore the signs.
First, put down the drink and have some water. Then eat food rich in protein and fat, like peanuts or cheese, to level out your blood sugar content. Don’t ruin your Halloween experience by being unprepared — eat a full meal before ingesting any alcohol, and make sure not to eat too much sugar while you are drinking. There’s no trick to this advice, only the added treat of being prepared. Happy Halloween!
As published in the Oct. 24, 2013 issue of the Pepperdine Graphic.
Follow Connor Shewmake on Twitter: @connorshewmake