Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Alcohol and Diabetes

October 9, 2015 by  
Filed under Featured

group drinking outside with alcohol and diabetes

Understanding the effects of alcohol and diabetes is an important part of proper diabetes management. Alcohol impacts how the liver regulates blood sugar, certain diabetes medications, and your ability to recognize hypoglycemia.

If you are a diabetic make sure you check with your doctor to make sure that your diabetes has been well managed and that alcohol will not interact with your medications or medical conditions. Alcohol typically lowers blood glucose levels depending on how you drink. Certain medications like sulfonylureas and meglitinides also lower blood glucose levels. The combination of these medications and alcohol could lead to hypoglycemia or insulin shock. Insulin shock is a medical emergency that requires prompt attention. It is a good idea to wear a medical bracelet that says you have diabetes in case of an emergency. Also, inform the people around you that if you start showing signs of intoxication it could be caused by hypoglycemia and how to counteract the the effects. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Never drink on an empty stomach. Food slows the absorption of alcohol into the stomach. Eat a meal that has carbohydrates in it before drinking and always carry a carbohydrate snack in case your blood glucose level drops.
  • Test your blood glucose level more often. Alcohol masks the symptoms of hypoglycemia, testing more often will afford you better blood sugar control.
  • Drink in moderation. A diabetic should consume no more than 2 alcoholic drinks a day for men and 1 alcoholic drink per day for women.
  • Give your liver a break. The liver releases glucose to maintain blood sugar levels. If it is busy breaking alcohol down it will do a poor job of releasing glucose. It takes from 1 – 1½ hours for the liver to break down 1 alcoholic drink. If you drink two drinks, for example, the amount of time it takes before your liver can focus on proper blood glucose management doubles to 2 – 3 hours putting you at risk for hypoglycemia longer.

Below is a table of what would be considered one drink, the average carbohydrates, and the average calories for each beverage.

chart of recommendations for alcohol and diabetes

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