Diabetes is a common, life-long condition that occurs when the body cannot make proper use of glucose, causing it to build up in the blood. Thankfully, diabetes is easily manageable through weight loss, healthy eating, exercise and medications when needed.
Because diabetes makes it difficult for your body to regulate blood sugar levels, you should be more careful than most when consuming alcohol. However, as long as your diabetes is in good control and you monitor alcohol's effects on your blood sugar, moderate consumption should be safe.
Effects of Alcohol on Blood Sugar
There are two types of diabetes:
- Type 1, which develops if the body can't produce enough insulin because insulin-producing cells in the pancreas have been destroyed.
- Type 2, which develops when the body becomes resistant to insulin
Both types of diabetes make it difficult for your body to use glucose for energy, which in turn causes levels to build up in your bloodstream. Normally, the liver makes new glucose between meals and sends it into your bloodstream to prevent a low blood sugar reaction. However, when you drink it disrupts the process.
Moderate amounts of alcohol may cause blood sugar to rise, and excess alcohol can decreases your blood sugar level. Decreasing blood sugar levels can be especially dangerous for people on insulin and certain other diabetes medications that may cause hypoglycemia.
A Diabetic's Guide to Alcohol Consumption
There are many ways you can consume drink alcohol responsibly while managing your diabetes:
- Be careful not to over consume alcohol. Stick to no more than two drinks in a one-day period if you are a man and one drink per day if you are a woman.
- Never consume alcohol on an empty stomach.
- Drink slowly.
- Avoid sugary mixed drinks, sweet wines, or cordials.
- Mix liquor with water, club soda, or diet soft drinks.
You should also consider wearing a medical alert piece of jewelry that says you have diabetes or drinking with friends who are aware of your condition in case something goes wrong.
Can Alcohol Abuse Cause Diabetes?
"Many people also wonder if drinking alcohol can cause diabetes. In short, yes, particularly in someone who is susceptible to it" stated Dr. John Michael Smith, Chief Medical Officer at Ascend Medical.
"There are many ways alcohol can increase your risk of developing diabetes. First, alcoholic beverages are often high in calories, which can lead to being overweight or obese and raise the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes. Heavy drinking can reduce your body's sensitivity to insulin, which can trigger Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is also a common side effect of pancreatitis, a condition that usually develops as a result of heavy drinking."
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