Alcohol & diabetes: The most common question asked by a person suffering from diabetes is “I suffer from diabetes, but can I drink?” The short answer is yes; you can drink if you have diabetes. But before you drink, it's a good idea to educate yourself. The reason why combination of alcohol & diabetes is complicated is because your body essentially views alcohol as a poison and starts processing before breaking the food you ate increasing your risk of hypoglycemia. Meanwhile, many alcoholic drinks also contain a great deal of sugar. Some beers, dessert wines, cocktails like Cosmopolitans, and other liquor-based drinks with mixers like coke, juice or sour mix are all high in sugar increasing your risk of hyperglycemia.
How alcohol affects diabetes:
- While moderate amounts of alcohol can cause blood sugar to rise, excess alcohol can actually decrease your blood sugar level, sometimes causing it to drop into dangerous levels.
- Beer and sweet wine contain carbohydrates and may raise blood sugar.
- Alcohol stimulates your appetite, which can cause you to overeat and may affect your blood sugar control.
- Alcohol can interfere with the positive effects of oral diabetes medicines or insulin.
- Alcohol may increase triglyceride levels.
- Alcohol may increase blood pressure.
How much alcohol is allowed?
Moderate recommended alcohol use is one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger.
People with diabetes should follow these guidelines:
- Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Eat something with slow-acting carbs before you go out drinking alcohol.
- Do not drink more than 2 drinks in a one-day period.
- Drink slowly
- Avoid “sugary” mixed drinks, sweet wines, or cordials.
- If you’ve been consuming hard liquor with soft drink, try opting for water or diet soda instead. Alcohol on its own contains high sugar and calories. Adding soft drinks to it makes it worse.
- It’s best to check with your doctor if you are overweight or have high blood pressure or high triglyceride levels before drinking alcohol. If your sugar levels have been erratic or you haven’t been feeling too well then skip the drink.