Faqs Alcohol Consumption And Blood Sugar Levels
Does alcohol lower blood sugar in non-diabetics?
Possibly. Alcohol may lower blood sugar levels in non-diabetics if they are in the fasting state. This means they have not eaten. However, the effects of alcohol on blood sugar levels will vary. Each person is unique.
How long does alcohol affect blood sugar?
The amount of time that alcohol affects blood sugar levels varies according to the amount of alcohol consumed and the type of alcoholic drink. The higher the sugar content of the alcoholic beverage, the longer it affects blood sugar levels.
What is the best alcohol to drink for a diabetic?
Due to the potential effects of alcohol on blood sugar levels, people with diabetes face a higher risk of health problems. Alcohol may interact with diabetes medications and even worsen side effects associated with such drugs. People living with diabetes who would like to drink alcohol should speak with their doctors first. Healthcare professionals can best determine the options available.
Can people with diabetes drink whiskey?
A standard drink of whiskey may not have any serious effect on blood sugar levels. However, it is best to consult a healthcare professional before consuming alcohol. Those with diabetes are recommended to mix whiskey with water, diet soda, or club soda.
Effects Of Alcohol On Diabetes
Here are some other ways that alcohol can affect diabetes:
- While moderate amounts of alcohol may cause blood sugar to rise, excess alcohol can actually decrease your blood sugar level — sometimes causing it to drop into dangerous levels, especially for people with type 1 diabetes.
- Beer and sweet wine contain carbohydrates and may raise blood sugar.
- Alcohol stimulates your appetite, which can cause you to overeat and may affect your blood sugar control.
- Alcoholic drinks often have a lot of calories, making it more difficult to lose excess weight.
- Alcohol may also affect your judgment or willpower, causing you to make poor food choices.
- Alcohol can interfere with the positive effects of oral diabetes medicines or insulin.
- Alcohol may increase blood pressure.
- Alcohol can cause flushing, nausea, increased heart rate, and slurred speech.
These may be confused with or mask the symptoms of low blood sugar.
Do I Need To Avoid Alcohol Because I Have Diabetes
Drinking is a personal choice. In most cases, alcohol in moderation is okay for individuals with diabetes. Recommended limits for alcohol are the same for people with or without diabetes. Canadas Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines recommend:
No more than 10 drinks in a week for women, with no more than 2 drinks a day most days
No more than 15 standard drinks in a week for men, with no more than 3 drinks a day most days
If you have high blood pressure, limit alcohol to 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men.
Depending on what you are drinking, one drink equals:
Beer 12 oz.
Cider or cooler 12 oz.
Wine 5 oz.
Spirits or Hard Liquor 1.5 oz.
NOTE: Please speak with your healthcare provider before drinking if you have pancreatic disease, eye disease, high triglycerides, liver problems, or nerve damage. Alcohol can worsen these conditions.
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Alcohol Interacts With Diabetes Medications
Alcohol can cause blood glucose levels to rise or fall, depending on how much you drink. Some diabetes pills also lower blood glucose levels by stimulating the pancreas to make more insulin. Combining the blood-sugar-lowering effects of the medication with alcohol can lead to hypoglycemia or insulin shock, which is a medical emergency.
How Will Alcohol Affect My Blood Sugar Control
Different alcoholic drinks will have varying effects on your blood sugar It also depends how much you drink. A single alcoholic drink may not have a huge effect on your overall blood sugar.
If you have more than a single drink, most alcoholic drinks will tend to initially raise your blood sugar.
Typically beers, lagers, wines, sherries and liqueurs will have this effect. However, alcohol inhibits the liver from turning proteins into glucose which means youre at a greater risk of hypoglycemia once your blood sugars start to come down. If you have a number of these drinks, you can expect to see a rise in blood sugar followed by a steady drop a number of hours later, often whilst asleep. People who take insulin, in particular, therefore need to be wary of hypoglycemia.
Each person will have a slightly different reaction to alcoholic drinks so its well worth using blood tests to check how your body responds to it.
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Talk To The People Drinking With You About Your Diabetes
Dont drink alone! Carry diabetes identification when you go out drinking and make sure you have friends who know about the risks of drinking with diabetes. Emphasize the fact that a hypo might look like you are drunk. Show them the hypoglycemia handout on this page before going out so that they know how to help you.
How To Reverse Hypoglycemia Due To Alcoholism
There is hope for people with hypoglycemic symptoms due to alcohol use and abuse. It is not enough to simply treat the symptoms of hypoglycemia with sugary foods or medications. To truly regain your health and normal liver function, you must address the underlying issue: alcoholism. The alcohol abuse recovery process is vital to regaining your health.
Detoxification and rehabilitation are the best ways to reverse hypoglycemia related to alcohol abuse. The body needs to detox from too much sugar, alcohol, caffeine and other stimulants that can exacerbate hypoglycemia. The liver and pancreas need to return to their normal levels of function without the interference of alcohol. Most importantly, the system needs proper nutrition to combat and reverse the symptoms of hypoglycemia.
To break the cycle of hypoglycemia symptoms and alcohol consumption, the individual needs Alcohol Nutrition Therapy. Nutritional therapy and lifestyle changes are integral parts of a full recovery.
It is important for those struggling with alcoholism and related health problems to seek a rehabilitation center that includes dietary and nutritional therapy, such as Reflections Recovery Center in Arizona. Proper focus on health and nutrition is the only way to make a full recovery and reverse hypoglycemia for good.
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Never Drink On An Empty Stomach
From the first sip, alcohol is present in your bloodstream. Food can help to decrease the alcohol absorption rate into the bloodstream. Drinking on a full stomach, or having a healthy snack before a cocktail, reduces the risks of your blood sugar dropping while helping your liver process sugars more effectively. Some of the best food choices for diabetics include:
- Leafy greens like kale, broccoli and spinach
- Whole grains like quinoa and brown rice
- Plant-based proteins sourced from beans or nuts
- Eggs and low-fat dairy products
- Chicken or other low-fat poultry options
Tips For Drinking Safely With Type 1 Diabetes
Now that you are aware of the interaction between blood sugar and alcohol, youre ready to make a game plan. Whether it be a birthday party, a football night or something else, these tips will help you be prepared for any occasion where you may consume alcohol:
Know the signs of low and high blood sugar: Let your friends know about how alcohol impacts your body when you have type 1 diabetes, and go over the signs of hypo- and hyperglycemia. Make sure they can spot the signs of low blood sugar and know to call 911 immediately if you have trouble eating or become unresponsive. If you use a continuous glucose monitor , consider sharing your data so that your friends can help track your levels.
Dont forget to eat: Always drink alcohol on a full stomach or eat while you are drinking. Before bed, have a snack high in protein and fat. You may want to set an alarm for a few hours after you go to sleep to check your blood sugar in the middle of the night.
Adjust your insulin dosing as needed: Discuss with your doctor or endocrinologist about how different types of alcohol affect your blood sugar and consider making changes to your insulin dosing before, during and after drinking alcohol.
Plan ahead for cardio: If you anticipate that youll be dancing, running around or anything else that may raise your heart rate, you might want to prepare for a drop in blood sugar. Plan ahead by decreasing your basal insulin dose if you wear a pump, or eating extra carbohydrates.
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How To Drink Alcohol With Diabetes Safely
At the end of the day, no one expects you to abstain from alcohol for the rest of your life just because youve been diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. And unless you have other health conditions that call for avoiding alcohol, theres no reason why you cant enjoy a refreshing glass of wine or unique microbrew now and then.
Here are a few guidelines to follow when drinking alcohol with diabetes:
Grams Of Carbohydrate In Common Alcoholic Beverages
Its not that people with diabetes cant drink at all, says Harris. Id certainly rather my patients have a glass of dry wine or low-carb beer than a soda.
And when it comes to guessing the carb-content in an alcoholic beverage, Harris says people too often make false assumptions.
Wine, for example, whether its red or white doesnt matter. Its not the color that impacts the carb-content, but the level of fermentation because fermentation turns the sugar into alcohol. So thats why the carbs in wine wont impact your blood sugar as much that same carbohydrate amount from a glass of actual grape juice.
Lets take a look at the carbohydrate content of common alcoholic beverages, according to the Calorie King.
Red wines, per 5 fl oz/147 ml glass
- Merlot 3.7 grams
Spirits, per 1 fl oz/37 ml
Most spirits actually contain 0 grams of carbohydrates. Some flavored varieties, like Smirnoff Strawberry, still only contain fewer than 3 or 4 grams of carbohydrates, which is generally not a quantity youd actually want to cover with insulin.
Mixers: Remember, the only mixers that dont contain carbohydrates are club soda and diet soda. Most other mixers, including tonic and sour mix, contain at least 20 to over 40 grams carbohydrates per 8 ounces.
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Diabetes And Alcohol Consumption Dos And Don’ts
People with diabetes who drink should follow these alcohol consumption guidelines:
- 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 jewelry that says you have diabetes.
Why Does Alcohol Make Blood Sugar Levels Drop
Alcohol makes your blood sugar levels drop by inhibiting the livers ability to release glucose. Alcohol also creates an initial sugar spike that makes your body process sugar at a higher rate, causing the spike in sugar to be quickly metabolized below what is normal. When these two factors are combined, it makes your blood sugar levels drop after the initial spike in sugar.
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Is There A Lot Of Sugar In Red Wine
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a five-ounce glass of red table wine typically contains about 0.9 grams of total sugar, while a glass of chardonnay contains about 1.4 grams. A sweet dessert wine, typically served in a smaller two- to three-ounce glass, contains as much as 7 grams of sugar.
Enjoying Your Night Out
A night out doesnt have to be a nightmare. But, you do need to plan ahead a bit. You can talk to your care team about how your routine might be modified for drinking You can also talk to your friends about how they can best support you on a night out. If you take the time to prepare, you can enjoy your entire drinking experience, rather than suffering through parts of it.
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If You Are Vomiting From Alcohol
If you begin to vomit because of excessive alcohol consumption, its critical to first test your blood sugar and test your ketone level. Whether you have ketones or not, next its important to try drinking water to replenish the fluids you lost and prevent dehydration.
If you did have large ketones, and youre unable to keep fluids down, you should call 911 or ask a friend to drive you to the emergency room. The only way to safely rebalance your hydration, blood sugar, and ketone levels is an intravenous bag of saline, electrolytes and possibly glucose and insulin.
Even if you dont have ketones, repeated puking and the inability to keep water down means you need to get to the emergency room quickly. Dont be embarrassed, dont hesitate. Just get the help you need. Its not a fun part of life with diabetes, but itll keep you alive.
Whats The Relationship Between Alcohol And Diabetes
There is debate on whether light to moderate amounts of alcohol use can increase the risk of diabetes. Alcohol use, however, is known to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. There are several ways that alcohol may do this, including:
- Damaging your pancreas where insulin is made
- Increasing your weight, a known risk factor for diabetes
- Impairing the liver, which helps to regulate blood sugar levels
The safest way to avoid any of the potential risks of alcohol and diabetes is to avoid using alcohol altogether.
If you want to start living an alcohol-free life but cant seem to stop, help is available. Contact The Recovery Village to discuss that can fit your needs.
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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.
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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What Is Blood Sugar
Blood sugar, also called blood glucose, is sugar thats carried to the cells through the bloodstream. Blood sugar generally refers to the concentration of sugar in your blood at a specific time.
We get sugar from the foods we eat, which is normal, and its the bodys job to regulate blood sugar levels, so they dont go too high or low. When a person has balanced blood sugar, its called homeostasis.
Throughout the day, its not uncommon for blood sugar levels to go up and down based on when you eat and how your body releases a hormone called insulin. If youve just eaten, your blood sugar levels will go up, and then theyll settle back down. If you have diabetes, however, your blood sugar levels may have to be specially managed.
If your blood sugar is always high, you have hyperglycemia, which can happen in people who dont have a good handle on their diabetes. If your blood sugar is below normal, its called hypoglycemia, and this can happen in diabetics if they accidentally use too much of their medication.
So, what role does alcohol play in all of this and how does alcohol affect blood sugar?
Can A Shot Of Vodka Lower My Glucose
Glucose, a substance obtained by eating carbohydrates such as cereal and pasta, is an important source of energy. Drinking alcohol can cause hypoglycemia, or dangerously low blood glucose levels resulting in dizziness, disorientation, and even coma. While a maximum of one alcoholic beverage per day is considered safe for most people, including individuals with blood glucose disorders, it’s important talk to your doctor about the amount of alcohol that’s safe for you, especially if you have diabetes or another health condition.
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Alcohol Sport And Hypoglycyemia
Be aware that if you have been more active than normal, this may cause your body to be more sensitive than normal to insulin, therefore adding a further risk element of hypoglycemia. Exercise can increase the bodys sensitivity to insulin for up to 48 hours.
To prevent hypoglycemia from occurring, it is best not to combine strenuous activity with alcohol in the same day and to be careful with managing your blood sugar levels if you took part in strenuous exercise within the last 48 hours.
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