It’s important to keep your personal health top-of-mind, right along with the advice of your healthcare provider. In fact, some evidence shows that many people with type 2 diabetes can safely enjoy drinking alcoholic beverages. And believe it or not, moderate drinking may even bring about some benefits. If you struggle to keep your diabetes stabilized, you may want to avoid alcoholic drinks or speak with your healthcare provider first. Consuming alcohol can worsen diabetes complications, such as retinopathy (damage to blood vessels in the retina), neuropathy (nerve damage), and nephropathy (kidney damage). Your healthcare provider will tell you how much alcohol is safe for you to drink.
Aside from having a low carb content, red wine may lower the risk of diabetes-related complications if consumed in moderation. White wines, especially some types of Champagne, also generally have a low carb count. Studies show that drinking it may improve heart disease markers and reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications such as diabetic retinopathy, which damages blood vessels in the eyes (16, 20).
Is it Safe to Drink Alcohol?
However, it does not mean people with type 2 diabetes cannot drink alcohol. The risks depend on how much alcohol a person consumes, as well as the type. After you drink alcohol, your blood sugar levels can drop up to 24 hours later. Check your blood sugar before and while you’re drinking and then again before you go to bed. For example, studies have shown that for people who have type 2 diabetes, occasionally drinking alcohol may slightly reduce glucose levels.
People often think of this as a “healthy” cocktail due to its vegetable content. However, the carb content of your drink may vary depending on what you mix the liquor with. Drinking less—as any healthcare professional will tell you—is better. The same is true of cocktails made with regular soda or mixers, simple syrup and other types of added sugar, or fruit juice.
Other health risks
This can lead to a drop in blood sugar levels if you are drinking alcohol on an empty stomach. If you are managing your diabetes with diet and exercise alone, drinking alcohol can stil increase your risk of low blood sugars. And if you take insulin or types of diabetes pills that stimulate insulin production, drinking alcohol can lead to even more serious low blood sugar reactions. People with diabetes who plan on drinking alcohol should check their blood sugar levels before and up to 24 hours after drinking. They should also check these levels at bedtime to ensure that they are stable before sleeping. For many people, the occasional glass of alcohol does not pose a problem.
ALWAYS consume alcohol with a meal or snack that contains carbohydrates. Below is the alcohol content in some common alcoholic drinks, according to the CDC. This is particularly important for people with diabetes to recognize. In an average person, the liver breaks down roughly one standard alcoholic drink per hour.
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Other researchers observed that the prevalence of neuropathy in type 1 diabetics increased in a linear fashion with the alcohol amount consumed (Mitchell and Vinik 1987). Those researchers also reported that diabetics who consumed more than eight standard drinks per week developed peripheral neuropathy faster than did diabetics who consumed eight or fewer drinks per week. Second, diabetics who have consumed alcohol, particularly those with type 1 diabetes, experience a delayed glucose recovery from hypoglycemia. Detailed analyses demonstrated that although the glucagon and epinephrine responses to hypoglycemia were unaffected, the growth hormone and cortisol responses were reduced after alcohol consumption.
However, for people with diabetes, alcohol consumption can affect blood sugar levels. Keep reading to learn more about how alcohol affects people with diabetes, including types of alcohol and how alcohol may cause hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar levels. When consumed on their own, hard liquors provide 0 grams of carbs but may lead to very low blood sugar levels. Avoid drinking them on an empty stomach or mixing them with sugary drinks. With all of this in mind, the risks of drinking alcohol when you have type 2 diabetes may outweigh any benefits.
Alcohol is absorbed directly into the bloodstream from the stomach or the small intestine, carried through the body, and delivered to the liver. While the liver is dealing with the alcohol, it can’t convert stored glycogen into the glucose needed to keep blood sugar levels normal. But if you do drink, know that not all alcoholic beverages are created equal when it comes to diabetes. Regarding alcohol and diabetes, blood-sugar-reducing medications, such as insulin, increase the risk of low blood sugar, and alcohol increases the risk. Symptoms of low blood sugar include shakiness and confusion and must be treated immediately. Your blood sugar should be at a safe level ( mg/dl) before you drink alcohol.
- Regardless of which type of alcoholic drink you choose, remember that it’s not just sugar that interferes with your blood sugar management.
- When consumed on their own, hard liquors provide 0 grams of carbs but may lead to very low blood sugar levels.
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) unawareness occurs when someone with diabetes has a drop in blood sugar but doesn’t recognize the symptoms.
- Being drunk and hypoglycemia cause the same symptoms of sleepiness and dizziness, and this means your treatment could be delayed.
- This is understandable if you want to continue to enjoy alcohol as part of your lifestyle.
- Drinking alcohol can then add to this, because alcohol reduces your body’s ability to recover when blood sugar levels are dropping.
Ketoacidosis, which occurs primarily in diabetics, is a condition characterized by excessive levels of certain acids called ketone bodies (e.g., acetone, acetoacetate, and β-hydroxybutyrate) in the blood. Elevated levels of those compounds can cause nausea, vomiting, impaired mental functioning, coma, and even death. Ketoacidosis is caused by complete or near-complete lack of insulin and by excessive glucagon levels. Among their many functions, insulin and glucagon regulate the conversion of fat molecules (i.e., fatty acids) into larger molecules (i.e., triglycerides), which are stored in the fat tissue. In the absence of insulin, the triglycerides are broken down into free fatty acids, which are secreted into the bloodstream and delivered to the liver. The liver normally re-incorporates free fatty acids into triglycerides, which are then packaged and secreted as part of a group of particles called very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL).
The risk of hypoglycemia is why experts advise people with diabetes not to drink alcohol if their blood sugar is already low. If a person chooses to drink, they should always eat at the same time and include carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables, or grains, in their meal. Despite the high prevalence of impotence in male diabetics and the fact that many of these men consume alcohol, few studies have evaluated the relationship between alcohol intake and impotence in diabetics.
Drinking alcohol can lead to serious low blood sugar reactions, especially if you take insulin or types of diabetes pills that stimulate the release of insulin from the pancreas. Alcohol can also affect other medical conditions you may have, like diabetic nerve damage, diabetic eye disease, and high blood triglycerides. Some people who take oral diabetes medicines should talk with their provider to see if it is safe to drink alcohol.
Catecholamines further decrease insulin production and increase glucagon production. Accordingly, physicians who treat diabetics known to consume large amounts of alcohol must be aware of the risk of alcoholic ketoacidosis in those patients. When it comes to blood sugar control, research shows a moderate amount of alcohol has minimal short- or long-term effects on blood sugar https://ecosoberhouse.com/article/diabetes-and-alcohol-can-diabetics-get-drunk/ levels in people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. However, drinking more than three drinks per day over time has been shown to make glucose control a challenge. Your liver releases glucose into your blood stream as needed to help keep your blood sugar at normal levels. As a result, your blood sugar level can drop quickly, putting you at risk for low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).