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Diabetes and Alcohol

Diabetes and Alcohol

People having any type of diabetes mellitus should be very careful about consuming alcohol. The reason for this is that in the process of digestion, alcohol is processed somewhat similarly to fat, providing the body with a considerable amount of calories. This means that blood sugar levels rise after alcohol consumption, especially when it comes to sweet alcohol drinks. While people with normal insulin production and function have no need to worry about the changes in their blood glucose levels, diabetic patients need to control them constantly.

At the same time, right after drinking and 8-12 hours after drinking, alcohol may make blood sugar levels lower causing hypoglycaemia with its classical symptoms of dizziness, sleepiness, and disorientation. As these symptoms are similar to drunkenness, diabetic patients should be aware of their glucose levels constantly, especially after drinking alcohol. The risk of serious hypoglycaemia may become bigger if the glucose level lowering effect of alcohol is combined with the action of anti-diabetic medications.

Effects of Alcohol Consumption on Diabetes

This is what people with diabetes mellitus can expect after consuming alcohol:

  • Moderate alcohol consumption causes hyperglycaemia, while excessive alcohol consumption may lead to severe hypoglycaemia.
  • Consuming beer and sweet wine, which are rich on carbohydrates, causes instant blood sugar levels raise.
  • Alcohol usually stimulates appetite and makes people eat more than they planned. This serves as a hazard to keeping to your diet and may cause the blood glucose levels raise.
  • When alcohol is consumed by those who receive anti-diabetic drug therapy, there exists a risk of interference with the medications and of alternation of their effect on diabetes management.
  • Alcohol consumption may lead to the increase of triglyceride levels.
  • Alcohol consumption may lead to increase of blood pressure and heart rate, and may also cause nausea and flushing, which all make the condition of a diabetic patient more complicated.

Rules of Alcohol Consumption for Diabetics

Even when keeping to a healthy diet and lifestyle in order to keep diabetes under control, there might be a number of situations when you would want to or need to drink some alcohol.

These simple guidelines and tips will help consume alcohol wisely while not facing a serious risk of altering your blood glucose levels:

  • Discuss the question of alcohol consumption and your diabetes with your health care team. Let them know your alcohol consumption habits (types of drinks, their amount per day/week, etc.).
  • Women should take not more than 1 alcoholic drink a day, and men – not more than 2 alcoholic drinks a day. Here, one drink equals to 1 ½ oz vodka/whiskey/gin, or 5 oz glass of wine, or 12 oz beer.
  • Drink alcohol only when you are sure that you blood sugar levels are at a normal range. If you are not sure, test the blood glucose level.
  • Never omit a planned meal if you’re planning to have a drink.
  • Drink alcohol together with your meal, or at least with a snack.
  • Sip the drink slowly.
  • Avoid sweet alcoholic drinks, sweet wines, and cordials.
  • If possible, drink wine spritzers to decrease the amount of consumed wine.
  • For mixed drinks, use calorie-free misers like diet soda, diet tonic water, or water.

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