Can Diabetes Drink Alcohol
Nutrition
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Drinking Alcohol When You Have Diabetes

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.

Does alcohol cause diabetes?

Your genes and the way you live your life may both play a role in determining your risk of developing diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is caused by insulin resistance in most cases and while alcohol doesn’t directly cause diabetes, it can expedite the chances of developing it. Consuming alcohol or drinking alcohol on a frequent basis might greatly increase your chance of developing type 2 diabetes. The condition of diabetes type 2 is often one that can be controlled by leading a healthy life and eliminating junk food, alcohol and smoking from your diet. But when it is not effectively treated, it is connected with major health problems including heart disease, stroke, blindness, renal disease, nerve damage, and amputations. Read more about medications for diabetes.

Best Types of Alcohol for People with Diabetes

Having diabetes does not mean one must stop living their life entirely. Even with diabetes, a person can gain different experiences that don’t limit them and find balance while doing so. In case you have diabetes and you want to drink once in a while and you’re wondering can diabetics drink liquor, the answer is yes, but in very small quantities. 

There are certain types of alcohol, which when consumed in small quantities and infrequently, do not cause harm to people with diabetes. They include:

  • Distilled spirits like whiskey
  • Vodka 
  • Gin
  • Beer 
  • Red wine 

These alcohol types have either zero or very low (depending on the brand) sugar and carb content and don’t cause blood sugar spike upon consumption. However, these must not be mixed with syrups, sodas or other mixers as that can have a huge impact on blood sugar levels

Another thing to remember is that these drinks might not affect blood sugar immediately but can have lasting effects upto 12-14 hours after consumption, so drinking them in very little quantities is crucial.

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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.

Diabetes and Alcohol Do’s and don'ts

People with diabetes have to be extremely careful of what they eat and drink as that has a direct impact on their blood sugar levels. Especially when it comes to drinking alcohol, people with diabetes have to be very careful as there are several ways alcohol affects diabetes. Alcohol causes blood sugar spikes and has carbohydrate content especially when consumed with mixers or soda. Generally, it is recommended that people with diabetes do not consume alcohol altogether but in some cases, small quantities of alcohol is fine. However, here are some do’s and don’ts that people with diabetes need to remember. If you have diabetes and you drink alcohol, the following advice should help you manage both conditions:

  • Limit yourself to no more than two drinks of alcohol in a single day 
  • Consume alcohol only with food and never on an empty stomach 
  • Drink slowly and do not guzzle the entire drink at once 
  • Stay away from "sugary" mixed drinks such as carb loaded cocktails, sweet wines, and cordials 
  • Combine the alcoholic beverage of choice with water, club soda, or diet soft drink.

People who have diabetes should constantly wear some indicator that denotes they have diabetes, preferably in the form of a bracelet or tag. This should be done in addition to practicing caution when drinking. This identification could be useful in the most dire of circumstances. Read more to know about what level of blood sugar is dangerous?

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.

Drinks to avoid

Traditional drinks often include a significant amount of sugar that was not naturally occurring. Therefore, unless you're manufacturing them yourself, you should do your best to steer clear of them.

For instance, a single serving of margaritas, pina coladas, or daiquiris may have anywhere from 35 to 44 grams of carbohydrates, and that's assuming you just had one drink. Vermouth, port, and sherry are some examples of dessert wines that contain a lot of carbohydrates. The same principle applies to liqueurs made with cream, such as Bailey's Irish Cream and Kahlua. These provide around 13 grams of carbohydrates, of which 12 grams come from sugar, for every 2 ounces (60 grams) of liquor that is consumed.

In conclusion, while you are drinking, you should strive to adhere to the following practices:

  • Consuming alcohol on an empty stomach is not recommended, so eat something beforehand.
  • If your blood sugar is low, you should avoid drinking anything altogether.
  • Always keep a close eye on how your blood sugar is doing before, during, and after you drink.

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. Also know how diabetes is caused.

FAQs

Does wine cause diabetes?

No, wine does not cause diabetes. However, drinking wine on a daily basis or even frequently can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes to a great extent even though wine does not have large quantities of sugar. Consuming low sugar red wine in small quantities is recommended. 

Can diabetics drink alcohol?

Yes, people with diabetes can drink alcohol but it is not recommended that they do. Alcohol consumption can cause severe fluctuations in blood sugar levels and that might cause harm to people with diabetes. However, some alcohol types such as whiskey, gin and vodka contain next to no carbs and sugar and can be consumed in small quantities. 

Does alcohol increase blood sugar?

Yes, alcohol increases blood sugar, depending on the type of alcohol consumed. Blood sugar spikes are seen upon drinking alcohol and 12-14 hours after consuming alcohol, blood sugar levels tend to dip dangerously low. This may result in a hypoglycemic episode. 

Can a diabetic drink beer?

Yes, people with diabetes can drink beer as they have a low sugar content and the beverage will not cause blood sugar spikes. However, it is recommended that beer be consumed only in small quantities.

References

  • https://www.healthline.com/health/type-2-diabetes/facts-diabetes-alcohol

Disclaimer

This website's content is provided only for educational reasons and is not meant to be a replacement for professional medical advice. Due to individual differences, the reader should contact their physician to decide whether the material is applicable to their case.