Can Diabetics Drink Alcohol – Dos & Don’ts

Can Diabetics Drink Alcohol? 

Diabetes is easily manageable by adapting to a healthy lifestyle. However, it also involves sacrificing little things like eating excessive sweets and sleeping for a long time. Alcohol is also one of the things diabetic people should consider having moderately. 

In this blog, we will answer the common doubt ‘can diabetics drink alcohol?’ and list out the effects of alcohol in a diabetic person’s body.

Can Diabetics Drink Alcohol in moderation?

Drinking too much alcohol is dangerous for anyone, let alone diabetics. However, alcohol consumed in moderation can have some benefits. It increases good cholesterol (HDL) levels and reduces the risk of heart diseases. Research shows that moderate drinking can be beneficial to diabetics, especially the consumption of red wine. This might make you think , ‘Is alcohol good for diabetes?’. Well, drinking too much alcohol can result in heart diseases and metabolic syndrome and can even cause Type 2 diabetes by contributing to obesity and insulin resistance. Hence, it’s important to keep in mind the correlation between diabetes mellitus and alcohol consumption.

consumption of alcohol

It is essential to understand how much alcohol consumption is moderate. According to federal guidelines, the moderate amount of alcohol for women is one drink per day and for men is two drinks per day. One alcoholic drink-equivalent contains 14 grams (0.6 fl oz.) of pure alcohol. One alcoholic drink in terms of popular beverages is – 360mL of regular beer, 150mL of wine and 45mL of distilled spirit (such as whisky, rum, gin, etc.).

Excessive binge drinking is when a man/woman consumes more than 5 alcoholic drinks in two hours. This stage can be very dangerous for diabetics.

Continue further to have more clarification on the question – Can diabetics drink alcohol?

Diabetes mellitus and alcohol consumption:

There are various warnings against the consumption of alcohol by diabetics because alcohol can make the complications caused by diabetes even worse. But, can diabetics drink alcohol at all?

  • Alcohol consumption prevents the liver from performing its function of converting proteins into glucose. The liver starts to focus on removing the alcohol from the blood instead of regulating the blood glucose level. This causes a lowering of blood glucose levels or hypoglycemia. It can last up to 12 hours after consumption of alcohol and occurs mainly during sleep. Since symptoms of drunkenness and hypoglycemia are similar, it can lead to very dangerous confusion. It is also known as hypoglycemia unawareness.
  • Alcohol and diabetes type 2: For Type 2 diabetics, alcohol consumption can also increase the production of insulin in the short term, thus increasing the risk of hypoglycemia. 

How does alcohol affect blood sugar & diabetes?

  • Long term alcohol usage can lead to increased blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) by inducing insulin resistance.
    consumption of alcohol
  • It can also cause insulin shock by combining with diabetes medication like sulfonylureas and meglitinides. It increases the production of insulin sharply and results in hypoglycemia. 
  • Alcohol can increase triglyceride levels and blood pressure.

Read on further to delve deeper into the medical query – ‘Can diabetics drink alcohol?

Can Diabetes Drink Alcohol at all?

  • Diabetics should limit themselves to alcoholic beverages with low sugar and carbohydrate concentration such as champagne, distilled alcohol and dry alcohol. Drinks such as spiked cider, hard lemonade and beer should be avoided as they contain high sugar and/or carbohydrate concentration.

consumption of alcohol

  • Diabetics should consume alcohol at a slow pace. Drinking too much alcohol in a short span of time can cause dizziness, confusion, loss of balance, etc. which are also symptoms of hypoglycemia. Taking it slow helps avoid this. Diabetics are also advised to go out drinking only with friends so that when they start acting drunk, their friends know that it could also be a symptom of hypoglycemia.
  • Diabetics must not consume alcohol on an empty stomach. Food slows down the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream, thus providing leeway for the liver to concentrate on blood glucose regulation. It is advised to have food before drinking. Food or snacks can also be consumed with each sip of alcohol. Foods containing carbohydrates must be chosen to eat along with alcohol to reduce the risk of hypoglycemia. It is good to always keep in mind that Diabetes Mellitus and Alcohol Consumption don’t bode well together.
  • High-fat snacks should be avoided as it delays glucose absorption and increases cholesterol levels.
  • Diabetics should make sure that they stay well hydrated whilst they are consuming alcohol. This will not only keep them hydrated but will also reduce the amount of alcohol consumed. They can also mix their alcoholic drink with water, diet soft drinks or club soda.
  • Diabetics must monitor their sugar levels up to 24 hours after consumption of alcohol since their blood sugar levels can go down anytime in this time period.
  • Diabetics should avoid combining exercising with alcohol as it increases the risk of low sugar levels. Always remember that alcohol and diabetes type 2 together does more harm than good.
  • Glucagon injections may be ineffective in case of severe low sugar levels. Glucagon injections trigger the liver to release glucose and alcohol impairs this function. Therefore it is always safe to carry fast-acting carbohydrate packed foods like sugary fruits, whole grain crackers, etc.

Finally, answering the question of ‘Can diabetics drink alcohol?’, would be a definite no. But alcohol consumption is not only for relieving stress, it is also a commendable socializing activity. In case of unavoidable circumstances, make sure to follow the above-mentioned guidelines for alcohol consumption by diabetics. Always know your limits and you can live a long happy life! 

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