Diet Guide & Principles
If you are diabetic, do you need to give up drinking? While there is a connection between diabetes and alcohol, there is no reason why diabetics must give up alcohol completely. Yes, alcohol affects your blood sugar levels, and it does contain a lot of calories. But with a few precautions and careful management, it is possible for diabetics to enjoy a couple of drinks from time to time.
Yes, sugar alcohol and diabetes are closely linked. Alcohol has a confusing effect on the body. Now, moderate amounts of alcohol may cause a spike in blood sugar levels, but on the other hand, drinking too much alcohol will cause your blood sugar levels to drop too low. Diabetics are usually advised to eat something along with their drinks to compensate for the expected drop in blood sugar levels. Truth be told, alcohol does affect different people in different ways. So, when in doubt, test your blood glucose to see how alcohol affects you.
A good idea is to follow recommended alcohol guidelines for people with diabetes. Safe drinking limits for diabetics are – 3 units of alcohol for men and 2 units of alcohol for women. However, it is worth being aware that ‘one unit’ is counted differently for different drinks.
It’s a good idea to check with your doctor to see if drinking alcohol is safe for you. If you can’t cut out drinking completely, it’s wise to cut back. Drink occasionally, and make sure you only do so when your blood sugar levels are well controlled.
If you enjoy your alcohol too much to give it up completely, here are 5 facts you must know about type 2 diabetes and alcohol.
Different alcoholic drinks affectblood sugar levels differently. If you are drinking beer, lager, wine, sherry or liqueur, more than a single drink will initially raise your blood sugar. However, alcohol interferes with the liver’s ability to turn proteins into glucose, increasing your risk of hypoglycemia when your blood sugars start to drop. If you have had more than the recommended number of drinks, your blood sugar levels will rise initially, and then drop after a few hours. This is particularly dangerous for those who take insulin, as this drop in blood sugar (or hypoglycemia) can also happen while you’re asleep.
Some drugs like sulfonylureas (examples include Diabinese, Glucotrol, DiaBeta, Glynase, Micronase) which boost insulin production may react with alcohol to cause hypoglycemia. Additionally, combining these medications with alcohol can also result in vomiting, nausea, headaches and heart palpations for some. On the other hand, if you take metformin, alcohol can increase risk of developing lactic acidosis. This is rare, but may cause weakness, chills, muscle pain, dizziness, trouble breathing, and sudden changes in heart rate or rhythm.
Some people become more reckless with their eating when drinking and not may be too careful about their food intake. This is a mistake, as your blood sugar levels can raise to dangerously high levels after a night of careless drinking and overeating.
Research shows that drinking alcohol (even in small amounts) may raise triglyceride levels. Alcohol stimulates appetite and increases your caloric intake; calories that aren’t converted into energy get stored as triglycerides. A night of binge drinking not only increases triglycerides, but also detrimental to liver and heart health.
This happens due to excess urination and dehydration. This is multiplied in diabetics since they are already losing out too many micronutrients from increased urination. If you are diabetic, increase intake of B vitamins and use liver support herbs like Silymarin on nights when you want to have a drink.
Does having diabetes mean you can’t enjoy a glass of wine with dinner or a cold beer with friends? Not necessarily. In a study published in Diabetes Care, it was shown that moderate drinking may even reduce the risk for insulin sensitivity, heart and kidney complications. Keep this list of do’s and don’ts in mind if you are planning on having a drink tonight.
If you’re healthy with well-controlled blood sugar levels and your doctor doesn’t see any reason why you can’t drink alcohol, moderation is the key in this case.