Drinking alcohol and diabetes
I don’t personally drink, but I have a lot of experience with people who do. While I’d like to discuss a lot about diabetes and alcohol, it’s important to know the answer to the question “Can diabetics drink alcohol?” The answer to that question is that it depends, so it’s not just a simple yes or no answer. If the answer was no then you would want to know why not. But since that isn’t the case, we’ll discuss what the restrictions are with drinking alcohol while being a diabetic.
Alcohol and blood sugar levels
As a diabetic I am very aware of my blood sugars and I stay on top of it because it’s that important. While I started out with high blood sugar (hyperglycemia), it is now controlled. But low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) can be even more of a health threat. Everything you put into your body can affect your glucose levels so it is very important to know what you’re diet is in addition to consuming any kind of alcohol.
How much alcohol you consume would determine how much it affects your body. Drinking small amounts can be stimulating but drinking in excess will harm your body.Your blood sugar can be affected in different ways by a variety of alcoholic beverages. Consuming too much alcohol has a substantial effect on insulin. So what are the results from this? You got it. High blood sugar levels. If you’re a heavy drinker then you may have liver disease and in addition have diabetes or an intolerance to glucose.
The significance in consulting with your doctor
It’s pretty much common sense that you should talk to your doctor first about anything you take or do. I just wanted to talk about this because he or she is the medical professional and no matter what your issue is they need to know. I take some medications and supplements and my doctor and I are on the same page with everything. I wanted to start taking a few supplements but I sure didn’t want any interactions with the medications so I wanted to clear it with him. I don’t want to take chances and you shouldn’t either. This is very important. Please don’t ignore it.
Drinking and the effect of increasing blood sugar levels
So it would make sense that consuming smaller amounts of alcohol would do little or no harm in relation to controlling your diabetes. Thinking before you decide to drink can make your decision a safer one so that drinking can still be a part of your life that you enjoy without it affecting you negatively.
It’s also important as a diabetic, that if you’re away from home and will be consuming any alcohol (not driving of course) that you are wearing your medical ID at ALL times. How would someone know if you are intoxicated or experiencing hypoglycemia? (low blood sugar) In the early stages of hypoglycemia, the warning signs are similar to drinking too much alcohol. How would others know you’re either drunk or having low blood sugar issues? Be sure to be wearing ID.
Be careful when dining out and drinking because you need to be doing so in moderation only. When you go out, diabetes and its effects come with you. Be alert, use good judgment, and check your blood sugar. Also watch what you eat so that you don’t gain weight which will add to your diabetes woes.
Possible diabetes prevention due to alcohol?
The development of type 2 diabetes and the consumption of alcohol has recently been studied. The studies revealed that there was a lower risk off developing diabetes from people who were moderate drinkers. This is only due to consuming less than four drinks daily and having approximately a 30% less chance of developing type 2 diabetes.
But you should exercise caution here because having more than four drinks a day will slightly raise your risk of developing the disease. The best recommendations from the American Heart Association are having no more than one drink daily for women and no more than two for men. All in all diabetes usually develops from poor health habits such as obesity and lack of exercise.
Pointers for responsible drinking
- DON’T drink and drive! Do NOT do this….EVER! Please use common sense before you ever get behind the wheel of a car. This includes drinking, taking drugs, and texting. Appoint a designated driver.
- Be aware of how many drinks you intend of having and have had. Know your limit and stop when you are there!
- Stay away from any kind of drinking games. Find some other kind of game to play but not drinking. You are playing Russian roulette with your liver.
- Drink slowly. One “taste” or sip at a time.
- Take your drinking seriously by having one or two drinks that you really enjoy instead of ones that you enjoy less but drink more of. It just makes sense.
- If you’re offered a drink from someone you don’t know, then decline! You don’t know this person and you also have NO idea what’s in the drink. You have to use your noggin especially if you are a diabetic.
- Eating before you drink and while you’re drinking is wise.
- Stretch out the time between drinks. They last longer and also cost you less.
So what else can alcohol be responsible for?
Too much alcohol and low blood sugar have many of the same symptoms. If you’re a diabetic and you know that you’ve already experienced low blood sugar, then you want to be exceptionally careful with your consumption of alcohol. With over-drinking your liver has to work double overtime to remove the alcohol from your bloodstream. Low blood sugar is even more dangerous than high blood sugar and is very serious. So you know it’s crucial to check your sugars frequently and exercise extreme caution when drinking.
I don’t want anyone to think that I believe it’s easy to cut back on drinking because I don’t drink. It’s not easy to cut back on eating to lose weight either. But what I will say is that when too much alcohol and too much weight affects your diabetes, then reducing our intake is for the same result. This is about the right thing to do in regards to controlling diabetes and taking care of our health.
Diabetes does not mean that you should stop drinking alcohol or stop eating all bad foods. It just means that we should be more careful because of the diabetes. Let’s just look at what we’re doing rationally. So what are the symptoms of both low blood sugar and and drinking in excess:
- Blurred vision
- Becoming dizzy
- Fatigued and sleepy
- Sudden lack of coordination
- Feeling out of sorts and confused
Alcohol is soothing and relaxes people. For many it’s not a problem but for others it is because too much of it can be responsible for many things.
- Clash with some diabetes medications
- Stimulate your appetite causing you to overeat and raise your blood sugar
- Make you gain weight because of the calories in it
- Interfere in your mind’s will power to resist choosing the “bad” foods to eat
- Can raise your blood pressure
You should check your sugars frequently anyway but a very wise thing to do is to check them before bedtime and up to the next twenty four hours afterward. This way you’ll know if what you drank affected your blood sugar and how much. You want to use this as a test for the next time.
Alcoholic drinks that are safe (in moderation only)
- Red wine
- Dry light beer
- Dry wine
- Whiskey, gin, and vodka (diet mixers)
These are high in sugar content:
- Wine coolers
- Dark beer
- Sweet or port wine
Medications and dangerous reactions with alcohol
- Over the counter meds such as advil, motrin, tylenol, excedrin, and aleve.
- Cough medications such as Robitussin, etc.
- Heartburn meds: Zantac, Reglan, etc
- Medications for concentration. Any prescribed medication can have serious effects with alcohol.
- Sleep medications: Lunesta, Ambien, and even herbal supplements (lavender or chamomile)
- Diabetes medications. You should consult with your physician about what you’re taking and drinking.
- Cholesterol meds: Zocor, Crestor, Lipitor, etc.
- Blood pressure medications: Ask your doctor if yours will be affected by alcohol.
- Anxiety medications. They all could have possible interactions with alcohol.
- Antibiotics. There are so many so I would always check first.
Other tips when consuming alcohol for diabetics
- Do not drink if you haven’t eaten first or when your blood sugar levels are too low. It’s just not a smart thing to do.
- You shouldn’t have alcohol in place of your meals.
- Always make sure that you’re hydrated by drinking diet soda or better yet water.
- Ladies- one drink a day
- Gents- no more than two drinks daily
The most important thing in your life is your health. My mom used to say, “If you have your health, you have everything.” It’s so true. Listen, we don’t have to stop living because some things change but we do have to adjust. When life throws us a curve ball we need to act on it. Not react, but think first and then act on it. If you like to drink and you get diagnosed with diabetes, then you have to make changes.
It doesn’t necessarily mean the end of drinking. But if you are a responsible drinker anyway, then it won’t affect you. If you aren’t, then you’ll have to adjust. It’s that way with most things. So many things are addicting such as smoking and eating. They just grab you and don’t let go. It stinks sometimes I know. I never smoked and I never drank but fighting the bathroom scale has always been a problem for me so I know of know what addiction is all about.
We all have to make sacrifices. That’s life but when we really enjoy something its tough to even adjust not to mention giving up on it. When I was growing up and problems crossed my path I was told to “suck it up buttercup.” I guess that’s what it comes down to if I want something bad enough and in this case I want to be healthy.
There are times when we need help in handling things, right? It’s great to have family and friends to run to for support. If that isn’t possible then maybe a professional can guide us. In the end we live by the decisions that we make. So if you make a mistake, go back and correct it and choose something else. I’m not happy about diabetes, but I’m dealing with it. If you do have any problems with drinking it’s your decision to take action about it or not. But I hope that you do use common sense and caution about alcohol and diabetes.
My goal is to help you learn about alcohol and diabetes. It’s not a lecture. I hope that you did acquire some knowledge here. It’s important to me to help others. We all need a helping hand now and then. If you have high blood sugars and would like to get them down, try this, it works! I would appreciate any comments you have by leaving them below. I will get back to you as soon as possible. Thank you so much for reading!