What Are The Risks Of Drinking If I Have Diabetes
Low blood sugar is the most likely risk of drinking if you have diabetes. Lets look at how this can happen.
Your liver produces glucose, or sugar, to help your body bring up blood sugar levels when they get too low. The liver is also responsible for breaking down alcohol when you drink. During this process, substances are formed that can make it harder for your liver to make new sugar. When this happens, your blood sugar levels can become too lowa condition known as hypoglycemia. Left untreated, hypoglycemia can become a medical emergency and lead to confusion, seizures, and coma.
People with diabetes are at a particular risk for hypoglycemia when they drink because they are usually on insulin or other medications that lower their blood sugar already. The more you drink, the longer it will take your liver to process the alcohol and the longer the risk for low blood sugar exists.
What makes this situation even more dangerous is that you can easily mistake hypoglycemia for intoxication. If youve ever had a few too many, the symptoms of low blood sugar may sound familiar:
If youre drinking, you may assume these symptoms are from the alcohol or be less aware of them. People around you may also assume your symptoms are from alcohol and not realize that you need help.
Other health concerns
Alterations Of Lipid Metabolism
Abnormalities in the levels and metabolism of lipids are extremely common in people with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes and may contribute to those patients risk of developing cardiovascular disease . Alcohol consumption can exacerbate the diabetes-related lipid abnormalities, because numerous studies have shown that heavy drinking can alter lipid levels even in nondiabetics. Alcohol can induce several types of lipid alterations, including elevated triglyceride levels in the blood , reduced levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and elevated levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.
Elevated Triglyceride Levels
Hypertriglyceridemia is an important risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. Moreover, elevated triglyceride levels can cause severe inflammation of the pancreas . In addition to being highly painful and potentially fatal, this inflammation may interfere with the production of insulin, thereby potentially worsening control of blood sugar levels and making hypertriglyceridemia a particularly serious complication in diabetics. Heavy drinking can cause alcohol-induced hypertriglyceridemia in both diabetics and nondiabetics . In fact, from a practical standpoint, heavy drinking should be considered as a possible contributing factor in all patients with hypertriglyceridemia. Abstinence from alcohol generally leads to normalization of the triglyceride levels, unless the person has an underlying genetic predisposition for hypertriglyceridemia.
Why Avoid Sugary Drinks
Sugar is an essential part of your diet- it provides energy for the body to function properly. However, too much sugar in the bloodstream can lead to long-term problems such as blindness or nerve damage. For people who have diabetes, there is a risk that their bodies cannot process sugar correctly. So, they must avoid sugary drinks and foods whenever possible.
Many people who are diagnosed with diabetes are often told to limit their sugar intake. But limiting your sugar intake can be difficult, especially if you enjoy something sweet now and then. Here are some drinks for diabetics that will satisfy your craving for something sweet. These are without the associated risks of drinking too much sugar.
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If You Do Drink Alcohol:
Choose a low-carb option such as:
- a glass of brut Champagne
- a 5-ounce glass of dry red or white wine
- a 12-ounce light beer
- 1 1/2 ounces of liquor with water or sugar-free mixers, or simply on the rocks
Youll also want to avoid drinking on an empty stomach. And keep a glass of water in your other hand to slow your roll and stay hydrated!
Alcohols Effects On Blood Sugar Levels Of Diabetics
Numerous studies have investigated alcohols effects on the control of blood sugar levels in diabetics. Those effects differ substantially depending on whether alcohol consumption occurs when the person has just eaten and blood sugar levels are relatively high or when the person has not eaten for several hours and blood sugar levels are relatively low .
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Your Guide To Alcoholic Beverages With Prediabetes
If you have been diagnosed with prediabetes, its important to watch your food and beverage intake carefully. When it comes to alcohol, its best to avoid drinking whenever you can. But if you do choose to drink, then you might be wondering which drinks are worst and which ones are best.
Heres your guide to alcoholic beverages with prediabetes, so you can better understand how to choose the healthiest drink options.
Does Alcohol Increase Your Risk Of Developing Diabetes
It can. But it may depend on how much you drink, and possibly what you drink.
Studies have found that binge drinking and heavy drinking may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes in both men and women. Binge drinking is defined as 5 or more drinks for men or 4 or more drinks for women on a single occasion. Heavy drinking is defined as binge drinking on 5 or more days in the past month.
But its a bit more complicated than that. These studies also found that moderate amounts of alcohol was actually linked to a lower risk of diabetes. Other studies have reached similar findings. Whats more, a study found that wine may be more likely to decrease your risk of type 2 diabetes compared to beer or spirits.
There are a few things to keep in mind about these studies, though. First, alcohol consumption is not the only risk factor for diabetes. Your risk will also depend on other factors, such as your age, weight, and race, and whether you have a family history of diabetes.
Second, even though studies have found that moderate alcohol consumption may have health benefits, new research is beginning to question whether the risks of drinking might outweigh the benefits.
In other words, if you dont already drink, it may not be wise to run out and buy a bottle of pinot noir just to reduce your risk of diabetes.
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Drink 100 Percent Fruit Juices Occasionally And In Moderation
You can have the occasional 4 to 6 oz glass of 100 percent fruit juice as a treat, Basbaum says. Remember to count the carbs as part of your overall meal, and plan for the blood sugar spike the juice might cause.
For example, if you like to have breakfast with fresh-squeezed orange juice, which has 26 g carbs per cup, per the USDA, calculate its nutrient makeup along with your eggs and whole-grain toast for a complete picture of the meal.
Diabetic Drinking Guide: Holiday Edition Cocktails Wine Mixers And More
Happy Holidays! When family and friends get together during the holiday season, it usually involves a lot of different types of foods and beverages. When you are living with diabetes, one wrong decision can cause big problems, especially when it comes to choosing what to drink.
This article will help you sort through the most popular drink options so you can choose what works best for you . This includes beer, wine, spirits, mixed drinks and cocktails, shooters, juices, mixers, holiday punch, non-alcoholic drinks and even eggnog.
So at this year’s Christmas party or New Year’s Eve event, you’ll be able to make an informed decision for just about any drink that comes your way.
There are two things to be mindful of when choosing something to drink: the amount of carbohydrate it provides and whether or not it contains alcohol .
For non-alcoholic beverages: Select diet sodas, seltzer or club soda instead of regular soda or tonic water. A non-diet soda can contain as much as 49 grams of carbohydrate per serving compared to the zero carbs found in a diet version.
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Choose unsweetened iced tea instead of sweetened and avoid the punch bowl. If you like to sweeten your coffee or tea, then it’s always helpful to bring your favorite sugar-free sweetener along with you just in case there is none available.
The chart below shows the number of carbs in commonly served non-alcoholic drinks .
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A Little Background On My History With Alcohol And Type 1 Diabetes
I thought Iâd begin by telling you my personal experience of drinking with diabetes.
I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was 16, and Iâd tried alcohol a couple of months before my diagnosis . But I knew that when I was diagnosed, I eventually wanted to be able to drink alcohol with diabetes.
Without sounding like I drink a lot, but Iâve had experience with all sorts of drinking scenarios and diabetes.
I went to university for 4 years, so I had my fair share of drunken nights, Iâve been on âwildâ holidays, and Iâve been travelling around the world with diabetes, sampling all kinds of local alcohols and whatnot.
I do NOT encourage binge drinking or over-drinking, but I donât think you should be afraid of drinking with diabetes. And if you do want to enjoy a glass of champagne to celebrate an occasion, or enjoy a cocktail on holiday, then you absolutely can do so without putting your diabetes at risk.
Drinking Alcohol Safely With Diabetes
As you can see, if you stick to light or ultralight beer, dry wine, and spirits, you can keep your carb intake relatively low while enjoying an adult beverage. In fact, alcohol consumption tends to cause low blood sugar and can lead to hypoglycemia if you are not careful. However, its the mixers that tend to cause blood sugar spikes for people with diabetes. When you drink, make sure it is in moderation and avoid becoming too intoxicated. Being drunk impairs your judgment, including interfering with your decision-making when it comes to managing diabetes. Plus, being drunk can look like hypoglycemia, so friends and family members might think you are drunk based on your behavior, when you are actually experiencing hypoglycemia and are in danger.
Because of all this, drinking alcohol can be especially complicated for people with diabetes. Avoiding alcohol is the healthiest choice for people with or without diabetes , however there are ways to do so safely.
If you do choose to drink, always make sure that you are with someone who is not drinking who can respond quickly in case you experience an emergency low . In addition, if you have a continuous glucose monitor , use it and make sure you have a care-partner who is also watching your glucose levels.
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Diabetes: Dr Dawn Harper Says Patients Could Have ‘no Symptoms’
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“You should avoid beers and ciders that are low-sugar,” pharmacist Abdeh cautioned. “Although they contain less sugar, they contain higher levels of alcohol.” In contrast, people need to be cautious of low-alcohol wine, which often contains higher levels of sugar than regular wine, Abdeh pointed out. “You should not have more than a couple of glasses of these,” Abdeh warned.
A New Take On The Long Island Iced Tea
A Long Island Iced tea might seem completely off limits to a diabetic, but there are healthy ways to make this classic cocktail. This recipe from Splenda has only eight grams of carbohydrates and six grams of sugar. In general, this cocktail is heavy on the booze so diabetics should not consume more than one in a night. Do have something to eat with this drink in order to stabilize blood sugar levels.
Pickle Juice Vodka Shot
If you’re a fan of shots, it’s pretty easy to avoid added sugar by opting for any straight hard liquor and avoiding sweet concoctions made with various liqueurs. However, sometimes you want to dilute the alcohol a bit or just enjoy a bit of additional flavor without added sugar. In that case, a pickle juice vodka shot just may hit the spot. There’s nothing sugary about this shot at all, but it tastes great!
Effects Of Alcohol Consumption In The Fed State
In people with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, single episodes of alcohol consumption generally do not lead to clinically significant changes in blood sugar levels. In fact, some studies have indicated that isolated episodes of drinking with a meal may have a beneficial effect by slightly lowering blood sugar levels that tend to rise too high in diabetics . This potentially beneficial effect was observed in both men and women, regardless of age. The alcohol amounts administered in those studies were usually between 0.5 g/kg and 1 g/kg, leading to blood alcohol levels between approximately 0.03 and 0.1 percent . Those doses are equivalent to approximately 2.5 to 5 standard drinks. Interestingly, studies of acute alcohol exposure in nondiabetic people have yielded quite variable results, noting decreases, increases, or no changes in glucose levels.
Blood sugar levels in the fasting state
Hemoglobin A1c , a blood component that reflects blood sugar control over the past 2 to 3 months
C-peptide, a molecule that is produced together with insulin .
Based on those biochemical markers, the researchers found the following results:
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Dont Drink Energy Drinks Which Contain Sugar And Caffeine
Energy drinks give you a temporary boost of energy that comes from sugar, caffeine, and other additives, but all of that can also cause heart rhythm disturbances, increase heart rate and blood pressure, and disrupt sleep, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Just one 8.4 oz serving of Red Bull energy drink contains more than 26 g of sugar and 75 mg of caffeine, notes the USDA, and even the sugar-free version has 75 mg of caffeine. For comparison, 8 oz of brewed coffee contains roughly 92 mg of caffeine.
Instead of relying on liquid energy to keep you going, fight fatigue in other ways. Some of the best ways to stay healthy and alert are to focus on getting quality sleep and regular exercise . If you do need a quick energy boost, stick to healthier beverage options like unsweetened coffee and tea.
Additional reporting by Lauren Bedosky.
Learn more about the relationship between diet soda and diabetes in Diabetes Daily’s article “The Truth About Diet Soda“!
Things To Consider When Choosing A Drink
When choosing a drink there are some things you need to take into consideration, as even healthy options can affect your diabetes. Its always a good idea to read the food label on the packaging as this will tell you the contents of that food or drink. You need to be especially mindful of the sugar and carbohydrate content, as high concentrations of these can cause blood sugar spikes.
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Effects Of Alcohol On Diabetic Health Problems
There are a few diabetics who really shouldnt be drinking at all. Drinking can worsen any diabetics diabetic neuropathy if they have this complication. Diabetics with increased pain in their feet, burning toes, tingling of the extremities and numbness of the legs should avoid drinking alcoholic beverages whatsoever.
Patients with diabetic retinopathy should avoid drinking alcoholic beverages as drinking can make this problem worse. A drink or two a day probably wont make a big difference but those diabetics who drink more than three drinks a day face a worsening of their diabetic retinal disease as the alcohol seems to affect the small vessels of the retina. Alcohol can also markedly raise triglyceride levels, which can contribute to small vessel disease in both type 1 and type 2 diabetics.
Diabetics who drink tend to not have good diabetic self-care. You dont have to be an alcoholic to drink too much and avoid doing things like getting enough exercise or eating a diet that isnt high in protein and low in carbohydrates. Good health habits involve having a strong mind and a strong cognitive ability to make the right kinds of dietary and lifestyle choices that are so necessary in managing both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Check The Total Carbohydrates
Secondly, not all beers are created equal. Some beers have more carbs and calories than others, so it is important to choose a beer that is safe for diabetics and watch the carb content and your carb intake.
A regular blond beer or lager typically has around 4 to 6 percent ABV and typically has 4 to 6 grams of carbohydrates. The higher the ABV the higher the carbs. Beers with a high ABV are best to avoid because they can cause blood sugar levels to rise or drop.
In general, light beer, low carb beers, and lagers have fewer calories and carbohydrates than stouts or dark ales like Guinness Extra Stout which has around 12 grams of carbs per pint. Some beers even contain 20 to 30 grams of carbs.
However, there are some options for diabetics who still want an ice-cold craft brew on occasion: many popular breweries now offer low-carb alternatives.
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Overall Verdict: Should I Drink Alcohol With Diabetes Or Not
Itâs your personal choice!
Everything in life is okay in moderation, so if you choose to have a drink, thatâs absolutely fine, just follow the advice above, and any advice from your doctor and you shouldnât run into any major problems.
But, if you decide that you donât want to have a drink, then thatâs okay too!
There are so many alcohol-free alternatives too nowadays, but if you do opt for them, remember there will be carbs in them too!