Nutrition

Can People With Diabetes Drink Alcohol

Reviewed by

Shifa Fathima

Diabetes & Alcohol

Most adults have known to unwind with a glass of alcohol every now and then. Whether you drink occasionally or you drink regularly, if you have been diagnosed with diabetes, the circumstances change and they should be considered before taking this decision into your own hands. The topic of can people with diabetes drink alcohol has been pondered over by experts and here is what they have to say. 

Can People with Diabetes Drink Alcohol?

Most people with diabetes are known to enjoy a glass or two of alcohol now and then. However, there are many changes in bodily function that occur when the alcohol gets absorbed into the system. Here are the factors that are kept in mind when thinking: can diabetics drink alcohol?

  • Every person’s body may react differently to the alcohol consumed. Since it is processed in the liver, the insulin-making ability of the body may be affected. 
  • The alcohol consumed itself makes a lot of difference as each drink has a separate percentage and the higher the amount, the higher is the chance for your body to react negatively. For example, sweet wines contain a higher number of carbohydrates, whereas distilled spirits are almost car-free. 
  • The medication, frequency, and timing make a lot of difference when having alcohol as the medications may react badly. 
  • Sticking to the rule of one drink a day for ladies and 2 drinks for gentlemen is the safest way to navigate the uncertain territory. 
  • Drinking on an empty stomach causes nausea and severe dehydration coupled with vomiting. This means you need to keep munching when you are drinking. Watching what you eat can be difficult when you are having a good time. 

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Three Ways Alcohol affects Body Functions

1. Alcohol Interacts with Diabetes Medications

Almost everyone who has diabetes is prescribed medications by their doctors. The medications can react with the alcohol in the system and depending on how much you drink, can cause your body to go into shock. Some pills cause the pancreas to create more insulin to counter the elevated blood sugar levels and keep your body stable. Alcohol can overstimulate your pancreas and your sugar level can drop further causing your body to go into “insulin shock”. You can end up with a very serious medical emergency on your hands if you do not take into consideration the effect of your medication which is to reduce sugar levels and that of alcohol.

2. Alcohol Prevents the Liver from doing its job

Alcohol may contain fewer carbohydrates but it does contain calories. The sugars in the alcohol are absorbed in the blood quickly and that is why people wonder can alcohol cause diabetes? The answer is not entirely. Alcohol cannot be the only reason why one gets diagnosed with diabetes, but it leaves you vulnerable to the disease. 

The liver ensures the blood sugar levels remain stable by processing and releasing carbohydrates into the blood so that the blood sugar level remains stable. When you consume alcohol, the liver chooses to process the alcohol instead of doing its normal job and it can lead to hypoglycemia. The symptoms of hypoglycemia and drunkenness are very similar and difficult to tell apart. That is why for those whose blood sugar level is constantly low; alcohol should be avoided. The fact that alcohol cause diabetes may be a myth but if you are diagnosed with diabetes then alcohol can have a direct effect on your blood sugar level.

4. Alcohol can cause Hypoglycemia

If you are wondering does alcohol cause diabetes then the direct answer would be no however it leaves you exposed to the risk of diabetes. The concept of diabetes revolves around managing blood sugar levels and the most important factor in managing blood sugar is insulin which is produced by the pancreas and keeps the blood sugar in control. When you consume alcohol, it affects the liver’s ability to process carbs and sugar. 

The liver stores and releases glucose into the bloodstream and the presence of alcohol can reduce the blood sugar level. This fact coupled with the fact that the pancreas is overstimulated and produces excessive insulin causes the blood sugar levels to drop to a state wherein it becomes dangerous for the body. This is called hypoglycemia. It can cause lightheadedness, fatigue and even slurred speech; it is responsible for a long list of alcohol-related health problems. 

Hypoglycemia has the same symptoms as being which is why might not be detected in time and can have adverse health effects. If you are wondering about the safe options of alcohol for diabetics type 2, here are a few. The ideal types of alcohol for people with type 2 diabetes are those that contain less sugar carb content. The list includes light beer or wine spirits and cocktails which do not contain any juices or syrup.

Precautionary Measures

  • Don't rush while consuming an alcoholic beverage. Instead take it slow, Sip your drink rather than gulp it down in one go (like shots). Hold on and nurse your drink for a longer time than it would naturally take; this gives the body more time to adjust hence rescuing your liver from being overburdened.
  • Checking your Blood Sugars before consuming Alcohol allows you to make sensible decisions and course correct if needed.
  • If at any point you sense that your blood sugars are low, immediately resort to eating a snack and stop drinking.
  • Wear a Medical Alert Bracelet or drink in the company of people who know what to do if you get intoxicated and your blood sugar needs to be monitored. 
  • Make sure you count carbs and calories as it allows you to be more in control of your faculties and alert enough to act on fluctuating blood sugar levels if needed.

Bottomline

The best alcoholic drinks for diabetics are those which do not cause a spike in the sugar level and do not react with their medication as well. Depending on your blood sugar level you should choose which snacks to eat, which alcohol to drink, how much alcohol to drink, and after how much time you should move on to your next drink and how much you should eat. Ultimately the decision of whether to consume alcohol and how much alcohol to consume should be left to your doctor. Alcohol may not be the devil, but should definitely that should be approached with both eyes wide open.

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