Diabetes And Alcohol

Dietary restrictions are more the rule today, than the exception. People have become health conscious and those who have diseases take extra precautions to control them. Alcohol is known for its harmful effects, though in small doses, it can provide health benefits.

The ideal amount prescribed for healthy people is:

1 Drink a day for women

2 Drinks a day for men

People with health problems must consult their doctors before drinking alcohol, especially diabetics, as alcohol can affect diabetics adversely.


How Alcohol Affects Diabetics 

Alcohol contains high levels of calories and it takes almost two hours for the liver to metabolize it. The liver is responsible for releasing glucose into the blood stream, which regulates blood sugar levels. But, when the body is flooded with alcohol, the liver gets busy breaking it down and neglects its primary job of maintaining sugar levels in the body. This leads to low levels of blood sugar or hypoglycemia. In diabetics, this can be even more fatal as they already face the risks hypoglycemia, especially the diabetics taking insulin. Thus drinking alcohol can affect diabetes in several ways:

  • In small doses, some types of sweet alcohol, such as red wine or beer can actually raise blood sugar levels though in excess it always causes dangerous sugar level drops. Both situations can cause dangerous implications for diabetics
  • Alcohol stimulates the appetite, causing the diabetic to overeat and thus, adversely affects sugar control
  • Alcohol impairs judgment, inducing people to make wrong food choices
  • Alcohol increases blood pressure and leads to weight gain
  • Finally, since alcohol produces the same symptoms as Hypoglycemia in diabetics, it makes it difficult for others to know if a diabetic is experiencing a plain “drinking buzz” or suffering from the dangerous symptoms of a falling sugar level. The symptoms, which are common to drinking alcohol and hypoglycemia, are slurring words, headache, confusion, double vision, abnormal behavior and unconsciousness.

How Diabetics can safely drink Alcohol

 Diabetics, who want to drink alcohol, should consult their doctors, before they start. It is also important to follow these simple tips, while drinking.

  • Never drink on an empty stomach, do have alcohol with some food, as food will slow down the absorption of alcohol.
  • Avoid binge drinking and always drink slowly.
  • Never mix “sweet” sodas, juices or such with your alcohol.
  • Always carry a medical id with you, besides glucose tablets, in case your sugar levels drop.
  • Diabetics, who exercise face greater risks of low blood sugar, after drinking. They should not mix the two activities.
  • Dark spirits, such as red wine, beer, whiskeys have higher calories, so try to substitute these with white spirits, such as white wine, vodka or gin.
  • Stick to the standard limit of 1 drink a day, unless your doctor allows you more.

Moderation is the keyword for diabetics, when it comes to alcohol or food consumption. Besides this, it always helps to take a healthy diet, rich in antioxidants, complex carbohydrates and omega 3 fatty acids to keep the body at its optimum levels, besides improving its natural immunity.


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