You can imbibe when you have diabetes, but follow these tips to protect your health.
Good news first: Most doctors agree that it’s perfectly healthy to continue to drink alcohol with diabetes. But you have to understand how imbibing affects your blood sugar.
Alcohol can cause a short-term rise in your blood sugar. But the tricky thing is that hours later, you can experience a drop in blood sugar that could cause hypoglycemia if you’re not careful.
“When you're diabetic, it's very important that if you do have alcohol, it's as part of a meal or it's with a meal, because having that mix of carbohydrate and protein and fat in your body will help mitigate the effect of the alcohol,” says Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, a nutritionist and cookbook author in New York City.
And keeping moderation in mind is key. Heavy alcohol use can inflame the pancreas, which is already taxed when you have diabetes. Don’t binge drink. Remember, symptoms of being drunk can be similar to those of low blood sugar (sluggishness, confusion, sleepiness, dizziness, slurred speech), and being intoxicated would certainly make it more challenging for you to recognize signs of hypoglycemia and get the medical attention you need.
Stick to no more than one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men.
Check your blood sugar levels before and after drinking so you can make sure you know how different drinks and cocktails affect you. Also be sure to check blood sugar before you go to sleep. It can take hours for alcohol to be metabolized, so drinking can impact your blood sugar long after you’ve called it a night.
“If you ever really have a concern about how much alcohol you should or should not be drinking, you can always speak to your doctor or your nutritionist about how to safely incorporate that into your plan,” says internal medicine doctor Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, MD. It’s always a good idea to get your doctor’s OK and make sure that alcohol won’t interfere with any medication you’re taking.
Dr. Knoepflmacher is a clinical instructor of medicine at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, where he also maintains a private practice.Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe
Dr. Okeke-Igbokwe is an internist and health media expert in New York City.Frances Largeman-Roth
Frances Largeman-Roth is a nutritionist and cookbook author in New York City.Sonal Chaudhry
Dr. Chaudhry is an endocrinologist at NYU Langone Health in New York City.Sandra Arevalo
Sandra Arevalo is a spokesperson for the American Association of Diabetes Educators and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and director of nutrition services and community outreach at South Bronx Health Center.
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Drinking alcohol does have
an effect on your diabetes.
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Think about where alcohol comes from.
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Wine is from grapes.
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Beer is from wheat or barley.
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So it's basically a form of sugar.
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So there are a few ways that
alcohol can affect diabetes.
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Sometimes alcohol can increase
the blood sugar levels.
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Sometimes alcohol can decrease
your blood sugar levels.
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And it occurs depending on how much
alcohol you're actually drinking.
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So a diabetic who is drinking
a moderate amount of alcohol,
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they might see initial spikes
in their blood sugars.
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Because alcohol for instance, beer in
general, has a lot of calories in that.
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So you can see increasing blood
sugar levels initially after that.
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The problem with the alcohol,
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is that it might raise your sugars
a little bit, and hours later,
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it can drop your sugars very low.
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So you have to be very careful, and
especially you have to make sure that when
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you're drinking, you're eating.
When you're diabetic,
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it's very important that if you do have
alcohol, it's as part of a meal or
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it's with a meal.
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Because having that mix of
carbohydrate and protein and
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fat in your body will help mitigate
the effect of the alcohol.
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Whether it's going to bring
your blood sugar level up or
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It is safe to drink
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moderate amounts of alcohol
especially with food.
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It shouldn't affect your
blood sugar too much.
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But it is important to be diligent
about checking your blood sugar after
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you ingest alcohol.
I think people can still drink and
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there are some health benefits of alcohol
but I think you just have to moderate it.
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The standard recommendation is for
a man no more than 2 drinks a day and
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for a woman no more than one drink a day.
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And you'd have to adjust it
on an individual basis and
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see how people's body responds to alcohol.
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if you ever really have a concern
about how much alcohol you should or
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should not be drinking,
you can always speak to your doctor or
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nutritionist about how to safely
incorporate that into your plan.
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