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Alcohol and Diabetes--Do They Mix?

June 16, 2011, last updated July 4, 2014

By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist
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Finding out you are among the 25.8 million people in America
(American Diabetes Association) who suffer from diabetes can
be a huge shock. You’ll have loads of questions related to your
health and well-being. What food can you eat with diabetes?
Will you fall sick? Will diabetes change your life? Some
questions will naturally relate to your social life and a key factor
to consider is alcohol.

You might be used to having a glass of red with dinner, or
going out to a bar with friends at the weekend. Will you have
to stop drinking with diabetes?  Can diabetics drink beer? What
about vodka, gin or whisky? What effects do different types of
alcohol have on diabetes?

First, the good news. Alcohol is not necessarily
prohibited
when you have diabetes. But you do need to watch what you
drink.

If your diabetes is well-controlled, you can drink in moderation
according to experts’ guidelines. The American Diabetes
Association says women should enjoy no more than one
alcoholic drink a day, and men no more than two. Diabetes UK
recommends no more than two units per day for women and
three units per day for men. Be careful – a drink can contain
more units than you think. A small glass of wine can be two
units and a pint of strong beer may contain up to three units.
One drink equals one 12 oz beer, a 5 oz glass of wine, or 1 ½
oz distilled spirits.

Is Alcohol Dangerous For Diabetics?

Too much alcohol is dangerous for anyone, whether they have
diabetes or not. Simply, if you drink too much over a long
period of time you are at risk of serious health problems. But
for diabetics, there are some additional dangers to watch out
for.

Diabetes is a condition where your blood sugar levels are too
high. Your diabetes medication works to lower blood glucose
levels but if your blood sugar levels drop too low, your liver
releases glucose from its stores to raise them.

The interesting thing is that, for diabetics, drinking alcohol does
not necessarily cause health problems because of
raising your
blood sugar. Instead, the biggest danger with drinking alcohol
is that it causes
low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia.

The carbohydrate in alcohol initially raises your blood sugar
level. But if you drink a lot of alcohol you prevent your liver
from doing its blood-sugar-raising job correctly and you run
the risk of
hypoglycemia as your blood sugars start to fall.

How can you prevent problems with hypoglycemia? Don’t drink
on an empty stomach. Make sure you have a carbohydrate
snack before you go to sleep – toast or a sandwich is the
healthy option, fries on the way back from the bar is the
unhealthy choice.

Be careful because the liver processes alcohol slowly and if you
drink more than a few units you are at risk of hypoglycemia for
up to 16 hours. And don’t eat too much – alcohol stimulates
your appetite and gives you the munchies which can seriously
affect your blood sugar control.

Also remember that if people don’t know you are diabetic, your
hypoglycemic shock could be confused with regular
drunkenness. Make sure you let people know beforehand or
carry diabetes ID to make sure you get the right help in the
event of hypoglycemia. (Read more about
how to control
rebound hypoglycemia.)

Is there anything else you should consider? Too much alcohol
over time raises blood pressure. According to the American
Diabetes Association, as many as two out of three adults with
diabetes in the United States already have high blood pressure
so you need to be vigilant to make sure yours doesn’t creep up.
Alcohol also piles on the pounds – obesity is a dangerous risk
factor for diabetes complications.

Does Alcohol Cause Diabetes?

























There is some debate over whether alcohol can actually cause
diabetes in the first place. On one hand, evidence exists which
states heavy drinking can reduce your sensitivity to insulin and
trigger diabetes. A 1988 study from Harry S. Truman Memorial
Veterans Hospital, Columbia claims this fact. And alcohol can
contribute to obesity, which is a diabetes risk factor. On the
other hand, several experts say light to moderate drinking may
actually reduce your risk of suffering from diabetes.

A 2010 study into African-American women in America
completed by the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston
University, Boston showed that a regular moderate intake of
alcohol over 12 years appeared to significantly reduce a person’
s risk of suffering late-onset diabetes.

Also in 2010, researchers from Boston University Medical
Center competed a cross-sectional analysis of 6,172 people in
Switzerland and found the risk of diabetes decreased with low-
risk drinking (one drink a week) and increased with high-risk
drinking (14 drinks a week). A 2005 review carried out by VU
University Medical Center, EMGO Institute, Amsterdam,
Netherlands into 15 previous medical studies concluded that
moderate drinkers (people who drank between one and six
units per day) were a third less likely to experience diabetes
than people who drank no alcohol or people who drank a lot.

In the face of scientific uncertainty, it can be hard for a diabetic
to know how much alcohol is too much. Does it matter if you
drink hard liquor like vodka? What about beer – does beer
affect your diabetes? Can you drink champagne as a diabetic?
We’ve looked at the medical evidence and drawn up a list of
alcoholic drinks to enjoy or avoid.

A Diabetic’s Guide To Alcohol

1.
Should Diabetics Drink Beer?


Continue reading         page 1        page 2

































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LAUGH!

SECOND DOSE
Last night, my friend and I
were sitting in the living
room and
I said to her, "I never want
to live in a vegetative
state, dependent on
some machine and fluids
from a bottle. If that ever
happens, just pull the
plug."


She got up, unplugged the
TV, and threw out my wine
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