Test Your Blood Sugar Levels Before And After Drinking
Because alcohol impacts your liver and can affect blood sugar levels, you should always test your blood glucose levels before consuming an alcoholic beverage. If your blood sugar levels are low, it might be best to abstain from a drink. If levels seem safe, its still imperative to check your blood sugar after an alcoholic beverage to understand its impact. Knowing your blood glucose number can help you make informed decisions around whether you should consume or not, so its imperative to monitor how your body responds to alcohol as you drink.
Alcohol Reduces The Effectiveness Of Diabetes Medications
- If youâre on diabetes medications, you should be more cautious when youâre drinking alcohol. Some medicines are made to help your body lower your blood sugar levels. When paired with alcohol, the combination can cause hypoglycemia or insulin shock. When your blood levels drop too quickly, your body can go into literal shock, leading to a medical emergency.
- If youâre on diabetic medication, itâs a good idea to talk to your doctor before indulging to ensure it is safe to do so and how to find the right balance if so.
Alcohol And Blood Sugar: The Effects Of Alcohol
The fact that alcohol is full of empty calories and has no nutritional value is not news to anyone. What a lot of people dont think about, however, is that alcoholic beverages can also be full of sugar. In addition, alcohol can negatively affect blood sugar levels, which may put heavy drinkers at risk for alcohol-related diabetes.
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Tips For Managing Diabetes & Alcohol Consumption
The best way to manage your diabetes and alcohol consumption is to speak with your doctor. They can give you personalized advice based on your condition and drinking habits.
Here are some tips that can help you manage your alcohol consumption if you have diabetes:
Take Notes On How Much Insulin You Took For Different Types Of Alcohol
Everybodys a little bit different, so you cant just copy how a friend with diabetes manages their insulin around a glass of wine, says Harris.
For some people, one glass of wine at 9 p.m. can cause a significant drop in blood sugar at 4 a.m. And for others, nothing happens at all! Its crucial that you approach each type of alcohol with an awareness that it might affect you differently than the last type of alcohol you drank.
Beer, for example, varies in its carb-count but those carbs are coming from a very starchy sourcegrain. So you may find that one bottle of beer calls for 1 unit of insulin while two glasses of pinot grigio doesnt require any insulin.
Harris wants to remind us all again to keep track of how many drinks weve had, too, because the more you drink, the more work your liver has to do to process that poison. And that means more time spent with alcohol impacting your blood sugars, too.
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How Does Alcohol Use Impact Diabetes Risks Of Alcohol Use For Diabetics
If you have diabetes, alcohol can make controlling your blood sugar more difficult in different ways. For example, people with diabetes who drink alcohol and are otherwise well-fed can develop dangerously high blood sugar levels. On the other hand, people with diabetes who drink alcohol and are undernourished can develop dangerously low blood sugar levels.7
Chronic heavy drinking can disrupt various metabolic processes and could itself be a risk factor for developing 2 diabetes throughout life.8
Drinking can also increase the risks of a range of other diabetes-related health conditions, including serious cardiovascular and neurological issues.
Remember, if you or a loved one are experiencing an alcohol overdose, call 911 immediately.
How Sugar Affects Your Body
Too much sugar is bad for your heath in a number of ways. Firstly, its very high in calories, and excessive consumption can lead to unhealthy weight gain. Being overweight can make you more susceptible to long term health problems, including life threatening illnesses such as heart disease. A high-sugar diet can also lead to type 2 diabetes, which occurs when a persons blood sugar levels are too high.
Quite apart from the damage it can do to your body, sugar is also the main cause of tooth decay, which can lead to cavities if left untreated.
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Is Heavy Drinking A Concern For Blood Sugar
The health risks increase if you are a heavy drinker. Heavy drinking can lead to liver damage, impacting insulin production and secretion and how well your cells respond to signals from insulin.
Research suggests that chronic drinkers can develop insulin resistance< sup> 14< /sup> because it interrupts insulin signaling and causes beta-cell damage. Beta-cells are found in your pancreas and are responsible for insulin secretion.
Women with a history of binge drinking< sup> 15< /sup> may also be at higher risk for high blood sugar.
One study found that women who drank more and participated in binge drinking were more likely to have high blood sugar< sup> 16< /sup> regardless of how much they weighed or if they had other health concerns like smoking or hypertension. Interestingly, the same results werenât seen for men who only had associations with high blood sugar and BMI or blood pressure. However, men in the study had higher glucose levels and alcoholic intake than women overall.
How Does Alcohol Affect Blood Sugar Levels
Its not just the high sugar content of alcohol that can damage you excessive drinking has been proven to have a negative effect on blood sugar, as well. When you drink alcohol, your body treats it as a toxin and puts all of its energy into getting rid of it. Since the liver is busy dealing with the alcohol you just drank and absorbing all of the sugar from the alcohol that it can, it has to stop managing your blood sugar levels.
As the liver inhibits the release of more sugar, your blood sugar levels drop and your body stops digesting and processing any food youve eaten. In fact, alcohol can affect your blood sugar for many hours.
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Beyond Blood Sugar: The Bigger Cardiometabolic Picture
Glycemic control, or blood glucose management, is a vitally important marker of metabolic health but its not the only one. Alcohol affects your body in so many other ways that, beyond the blood glucose effects, can alter your metabolic health status. In a number of these other respects, the benefits of not drinking likely outweigh possible benefits of alcohol consumption. For example, decreasing alcohol consumption has actually been shown to improve weight loss among individuals with T2D, and weight management is a key to better outcomes with this disorder. And if you dont have diabetes, a 2016 study found that simply reducing weight by 5-10% could significantly lower all metabolic factors and reduce risk for diabetes and heart disease. Reduced alcohol consumption can also help you sleep better, and improved sleep quality/quantity can benefit weight management.
But what about alcohol and heart health? Isnt it true that drinking a glass of wine a day is healthy? Well, the jury is still out even on that one. While a 2007 study concluded that patients with hypertension benefit from moderate alcohol consumption, it did find that alcohol increases blood pressure in a dose-dependent fashion at intakes above 2 drinks daily. Worse, binge drinking increases risk of myocardial infarction , all-cause mortality, and other adverse outcomes even among otherwise light drinkers.
Diabetes & Its Symptoms
Diabetes is a chronic disease characterized by hyperglycemia or high blood sugar.
When a person has diabetes, their body is unable to use sugar for energy. This causes an excess of blood glucose.
Having too much sugar in the blood can lead to serious health problems. Some of which include cardiovascular disease, nerve damage , kidney disease, and eye problems.
There are two main types of diabetes:
- Type 1 diabetes Also known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus . It is a hereditary illness where the body doesnt produce enough insulin. Type 1 diabetes can affect anyone regardless of age. However, it is more common in children ages 0 to 14.1
- Type 2 diabetes Also known as adult-onset diabetes or non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus . It is an acquired condition where the body doesnt respond to insulin . It is common in people aged 45 and above. People who are obese or overweight also have a higher risk for type 2 diabetes.2
Common symptoms of type 1 or type 2 diabetes include:
- Polydipsia or extreme thirst
- Fatigue and weakness
- Blurred vision
A type 2 diabetic may also exhibit symptoms that are unique to their condition. These include frequent infections, slow-healing wounds, numbness or tingling in the hands or feet, and skin darkening in the neck and armpits.
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The Effects Of Alcohol On Diabetes
If you have diabetes, you probably think that drinking alcohol is off-limits. However, thats often not the case. If your blood sugar is controlled and you take the right precautions, you can drink alcohol in moderation. If you watch how much you drink and what types of drinks you consume, you can avoid alcohol-related risks like low blood sugar, weight gain, and high blood pressure.
Before reaching for your first drink, ask yourself these three questions suggested by the American Diabetes Association:
If you can answer yes to all three questions, then alcohol may not have extremely adverse effects on your health. Still, it is important for you to be sure that you know the possible effects of drinking and that you know your limits. Excessive alcohol use can lead to alcoholism and a lifelong battle with alcohol abuse.
How Alcohol Affects Blood Sugar Levels
Sugar carried to your bloodstream is referred to as blood glucose or blood sugar. What we consume daily affects the amount of blood sugar measured in our bodies. Foods and beverages with high sugar content translate to more glucose in the bloodstream.
Due to its sugar and carbohydrate content, alcohol profoundly affects our blood glucose levels. Moderate consumption typically causes glucose levels to rise. However, excessive consumption, especially for people with type 1 diabetes, can have the opposite effect and actually drop blood sugar levels. Beer, wine, and liquor can also impede liver function responsible for regulating blood glucose levels throughout the day, which can surface health concerns for some diabetics.
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What Is Sugar Alcohol
Sugar alcohol is a sweetener that can be found in many low-calorie, diet, and reduced-calorie foods. It provides a taste and texture similar to that of regular table sugar. This makes it a satisfying alternative for people who wish to limit their sugar intake, such as those with diabetes.
Because sugar alcohol isnt fully absorbed during digestion, it provides about half the amount of calories that regular sugar does. Plus, it has less impact upon blood sugar levels.
Sugar alcohol naturally occurs in some fruits and vegetables. Its also commercially manufactured. It can be identified on food labels by several ingredient names. These include:
names for sugar alcohol
Alcohol Prevents Your Liver From Doing Its Job
The main function of your liver is to store glycogen, which is the stored form of glucose, so that you will have a source of glucose when you havent eaten. When you drink alcohol, your liver has to work to remove it from your blood instead of working to regulate blood sugar, or blood glucose. For this reason, you should never drink alcohol when your blood glucose is already low.
How To Cut Back On Alcohol
If you are drinking alcohol every day, it’s probably a good idea to cut back. This is especially true if you’re drinking more than one or two drinks a day.
Otherwise, you’re at risk for developing an alcohol use disorder . Here are several tips to help you reduce your alcohol intake:
Set a Realistic Goal
Set a limit on how much you’re going to drink. Make it less than one drink a day for women or two drinks a day for men.
You can also add in other motivators such as getting better sleep or exercising more.
Make a Plan
Putting your goals down in writing often can help you visualize them.
You can also include a list of reasons to reduce your drinking. Your plan should include the amount you want to drink as well as motivation for doing so.
Don’t Keep Alcohol in Your Home
One of the easiest ways to reduce drinking is to get rid of the alcohol in your home. This removes temptation and can help you reduce the number of drinks you consume.
It is less likely that you’ll go out for a drink every time you think of having one.
Keep Track of Your Drinks
Keep your plan in a notebook or on your phone. This way, you can keep track of your drinks and compare your progress to your goals.
Replace Alcohol with Other Beverages
An easy way to reduce the number of drinks you consume is to replace them with non-alcoholic beverages.
If you’re out drinking with friends, you can alternate between an alcoholic drink and soda water, juice, or a mocktail.
Do Other Activities
For example, you can:
Can Drinking Be Good For Your Heart
Theres growing evidence that alcohol in moderation can be good for your heart. It appears that the benefits of red wine may be due to its high content of antioxidants, substances found naturally in certain foods and drinks that may help prevent some diseases. But even if drinking red wine every day gives you the best odds of avoiding heart disease. It doesnt improve your chances of not developing diabetes or other insulin-related problems. If you already have diabetes, alcohol probably isnt the best way to lower your risk for cardiovascular disease. Quitting smoking will benefit both conditions much more than drinking ever could. Besides, people with diabetes have to be much more careful about their blood sugar levels. So you have to consider your overall health and diabetes management when deciding whether to drink.
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What Should I Do
If you have type 1 diabetes, dont drink alcohol unless you are working closely with a health care team familiar with your condition. Even if you choose not to drink, make sure to let your team know the reasons why so they can help you stick to your treatment plan.
Alcohol, in moderation, maybe part of a healthy diet if you have type 2 diabetes. Women should not drink more than one alcoholic beverage per day, whereas men can drink up to two alcoholic beverages a day. Remember to factor alcohol into your blood sugar management plan and always drink with food. If you are not sure what level of alcohol consumption is best for you, consult your doctor.
Alcohol Consumption Guidelines For Diabetics:
- Do not drink more than two drinks of alcohol in a one-day period if you are a man, or one drink if you are a woman. .
- Drink alcohol only with food.
- Drink slowly.
- Avoid sugary mixed drinks, sweet wines, or cordials.
- Mix liquor with water, club soda, or diet soft drinks.
- Always wear a medical alert piece of jewellery that states you are Diabetic..
- Always control blood sugar levels to prevent Diabetic health complications.
Whatever the occasion you may be planning for, remember to keep the necessary medication you may need to supplement and help control sugar levels, appetite and cravings, close at hand.
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What You Should Know About Diabetic Ketoacidosis
DKA is a severe condition when your body doesnt have enough insulin to use sugar from carbohydrates. It can develop if you dont take care of your diabetes by getting regular blood sugar checks, eating healthy, and getting enough exercise. If you notice the signs of DKA which include confusion, drowsiness, nausea or vomiting, trouble breathing, stomach pain with nausea or vomiting, sweet-smelling breath , and rapid breathing call 911 right away because this condition can lead to coma and even death if left untreated.
DKA can also occur if you drink alcohol on an empty stomach. When your body doesnt have any food to use for energy, it starts to break down fat cells instead. This process creates ketones, which can build up in the blood and cause DKA.
If you have diabetes and are pregnant, its best to avoid alcohol altogether. When a woman drinks during pregnancy, it can cause miscarriage or damage the baby, including stunted growth and facial deformities.
If you have diabetes and are planning on becoming pregnant or are taking steps toward getting pregnant, talk with your doctor about how much alcohol is safe for you to drink.
Binge Drinking Throughout Life Is Associated With Higher Blood Glucose Levels In Women But Not Men
Regular high alcohol consumption and binge drinking from age 16 is associated with higher glucose concentrations in womens blood an important risk factor for type 2 diabetes later in life, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Public Health.
This study is the first to assess alcohol consumption data, starting in adolescence, over a 27 year period in relation to their blood glucose levels taken when they were 43 years of age. In women, total alcohol consumption and binge drinking behaviour throughout the 27 year period was significantly associated with higher blood glucose levels independent of BMI, hypertension and smoking status at age 43. This association was not true for men, for whom only BMI and hypertension remained associated with increased blood glucose levels.
Dr Karina Nygren, lead author from Umea University, Sweden said: Our findings show that high alcohol consumption from ages 16 to 43 is associated with higher blood glucose levels in women but not in men. Because higher blood glucose is a risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes, our data suggest that informing people about the risk of high alcohol consumption at a young age could have positive health impacts further down the line.
Despite the association between alcohol, binge drinking and blood glucose only being significant in women, men still had higher blood glucose levels than women and consumed nearly 3 times as much alcohol between ages 16 and 43.
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