Could you please explain the relationship between sugar, alcohol, and triglycerides?


Can you please expand on your explanation of the relationship between sugar, alcohol, and triglycerides? Parts of your brief overview don’t make sense to me.

For one thing, you said that the direct absorption of alcohol causes the liver to reduce its sugars production, leaving the body to turn to fat as an alternate fuel supply. I assume the fats turned to are the triglycerides. As such, since the fats are thus being used or broken down, wouldn’t that mechanism work to REDUCE the overall triglycerides level in the blood?

Secondly, the relationship between ingested fats and cholesterol and resultant blood levels of fats and cholesterol is somewhat intuitive; i.e., the relationship makes some sense. All you offer in your explanation of sugar is that eating sugars is one of the ways to increase triglyceride levels in the blood. By what mechanism? All I can guess is that it is the reverse of the above situation i.e. eating sugars provide a direct fuel source and as such the body needn’t rely on blood fats for its fuel, leaving them to build up. However, if that were so, then my notion above that alcohol should reduce triglyceride production would have to be true.

After a health near miss, I am on a rigorous program to reduce cholesterol, increase HDL, reduce LDL, etc. I attend to many major diet guidelines and I work out 5 days a week. I don’t drink at all, but I do eat sugar. I understand that the picture has many facets. What I am trying to get is a clearer picture of the relative importance of each of the many aspects.

Another question: from a cholesterol point of view, just how harmful are shellfish, in particular, shrimp? I had heard that while there is indeed cholesterol in shrimp at higher levels, it is not the same as eating an equivalent amount of red meat (of which I eat almost none). I would hate to have to give these things up too!

Alcohol, sugars (fructose to glucose) and the liver processes fats. 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 per hour. (This is equivalent to 1 1/2 ounce of 80 proof alcohol or 12 ounces of beer or 4 ounces of wine.) Meanwhile, fats and glucose tend to be further processed into triglycerides which raises blood levels. High levels of circulating triglycerides are one risk factor for heart disease.

Any excess calories, irrelative of the source, from protein, fat or carbohydrate, are converted to fat, usually to triglycerides. If you consume sugar, then you do risk increasing your blood triglyceride levels.

The problem is the body prefers to run on glucose, not triglycerides. The sources of glucose are diet, liver, muscles and lean tissue (organs and lean tissue). Triglycerides are stored in adipose tissue (fat cells).

Congratulations on your lifestyle changes to improve your health. If your triglycerides are greater than 150 then, you should eliminate concentrated sweets and sugars from your diet.

In regards to shrimp, shellfish does contain cholesterol and twice as much as lobster and one third greater than crab. Shrimp contains 150 mg of cholesterol per 3 1/2 oz. The number of shrimp would depend on how large they are. Another way of thinking is that this amount of shrimp is equivalent to 70% of the cholesterol in 1 egg yolk. The current recommendations are to limit egg yolks to 4 per week. So substitute 142 grams (5 ounces) of shrimp for one of the egg yolks per week. An equivalent amount of hamburger (10% fat cooked well done) would have 105 milligrams of cholesterol. So red meat is not as high in cholesterol as shrimp. You choose.