Health & Diet

All About Alcohol and Diabetes

Alcohol and Diabetes

Drinking alcohol can raise or lower your blood sugar if you have diabetes. Alcohol is also high in calories. While studies show that moderate alcohol consumption may lower diabetes risk, excessive alcohol consumption has the opposite effect.

When it comes to alcohol, moderate consumption is defined as no more than two drinks per day for men under the age of 65, and no more than one drink per day for women of all ages.

Chronic inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) may impair the pancreas’ ability to secrete insulin, which may lead to diabetes if it is not treated.

Even if you’re doing everything you can to keep your blood sugar levels stable, drinking alcohol can still put you at risk for lows. In addition, if you are taking insulin or other diabetes medication that stimulates insulin production, drinking alcohol can cause even more serious low blood sugar reactions, which can be life-threatening.

Here, you will know the benefits, effects and risks of drinking alcohol in diabetes. 

Alcohol Effects on Diabetes

Here is how you can face the effects of alcohol if you have diabetes: 

  • People with type 1 diabetes are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of excessive drinking, which can induce dangerously low blood sugar levels if consumed in large quantities.
  • Carbohydrates, such as those found in beer and dessert wine, can cause blood sugar levels to rise.
  • Flushing, nausea, an elevated heart rate, and slurred speech are all symptoms of excessive drinking.
  • Alcoholic beverages are generally high in calories, making weight loss more difficult.
  • Alcohol can cause you to consume more food than you normally would, which can harm your blood sugar levels.
  • If you’re drinking, you may be unable to make good meal choices because of your impaired judgement or willpower.
  • If you’re on oral diabetic medication or insulin, it’s best to avoid drinking.
  • Triglyceride levels can rise if you drink alcohol.
  • Blood pressure can rise as a result of drinking alcohol.

The Benefits of Alcohol in Diabetes

You’ve probably heard that drinking alcohol is beneficial to your heart. However, this is an oversimplification. Only moderate drinkers have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, according to the data. Drinkers and non-drinkers alike are at extreme risk because they are on the opposing ends of the scale.

Regular consumption of one or two cocktails per day may enhance blood sugar (blood glucose) control and insulin responsiveness. Your A1C may be lower when you drink one or more drinks a day than when you don’t. However, this does not indicate that you should start drinking if you don’t already. Ultimately, other features of the life of moderate drinkers may explain the correlation.

On the other hand, excessive drinking can raise blood sugar levels and A1C.

If you’re a red-wine drinker, you might reap the additional benefits. Antioxidants are molecules found in some diets that help prevent cell damage, and red wine is one such food, according to the American Heart Association.

They combat free radicals, unstable chemicals that can lead to disease, by using antioxidants. Free radicals are more prevalent in people with type 2 diabetes. It sounds crazy because they are unstable molecules that can harm your cells, yet that’s exactly what they are.

In the end, it’s important to keep in mind, though, that this benefit is only theory. Drinking red wine may benefit diabetes management, although there is no conclusive evidence to support this. Check  here Top 6 dry Fruits for Diabetic Patients

Taking all of this into consideration, it may be best to avoid consuming alcohol if you have type 2 diabetes. It’s crucial to keep your health in mind, and also the recommendations of your doctor, at the forefront of your thoughts.

The Risks of Alcohol in Diabetes

Despite the health benefits of drinking, there are certain drawbacks to consider.  It’s possible to have low blood sugar if you drink alcohol and take diabetes treatments like insulin and sulfonylureas at the same time. 

Between meals and at night, your liver releases carbs into the bloodstream to maintain stable glucose levels. One of its primary functions is to degrade poisons such as alcohol so the kidneys can clear them out efficiently.

But it’s not very good at handling multiple tasks at once. Hypoglycemia can occur if your liver chooses to metabolise the alcohol above maintaining your blood sugar. When you drink and don’t eat, your liver is more likely to make this decision, so eat something while you drink.

Symptoms of hypoglycemia, like difficulty in speaking, drowsiness, disorientation or difficulty walking, are similar to those of being intoxicated. Hypoglycemia unawareness, the inability to detect when blood sugar levels have dropped dangerously low, can make drinking even more dangerous. Hypoglycemia might strike hours after your last alcoholic beverage, particular if you’ve been exercising. 

When a diabetic suffers from hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) but fails to notice the symptoms, this is known as hypoglycemia unawareness.

Diabetes patients who use insulin to control their blood sugar are most likely to suffer from hypoglycemic episodes. They rarely experience drops in blood sugar because of the medications. Though their blood sugar levels are more likely to be high than low, people with type 2 diabetes who are taking medication may still be vulnerable to hypoglycemia ignorance. Hypoglycemia in type 1 diabetes can’t be treated with glucagon kits if the person has alcohol in their system. This issue can be remedied by consuming food. 


Here are some of the precautions you can take if you have diabetes and are an alcoholic – 

  • Be aware of the signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and tell others. In the event of a medical emergency, the people around you need to know that this is not a sign of intoxication.
  • Wearing a medical ID bracelet is a good idea whenever possible.
  • Keep a source of carbohydrates, like glucose tablets, on you at all times.
  • Do more frequent blood sugar checks. Alcohol can impair your ability to detect low blood sugar symptoms.
  • Carry your medicines with you all the time. If you have run out of medicines, you can order diabetes medication online within your set time frame.  
  • Glucagon injections may not raise blood sugar effectively in cases of severe low blood sugar, because the glucagon hormone stimulates the liver to release glucose – and alcohol inhibits that process.
  • Low blood sugar is more likely if you exercise and drink alcohol at the same time. Check your blood sugar more frequently because exercise lowers blood sugar levels. Preventing hypoglycemia may necessitate a carbohydrate snack.

Final Take Away

Diabetic blood sugar management and the risk of impotence, neuropathy, and perhaps retinopathy is impacted by moderate alcohol usage. At the same time, moderate alcohol use has been linked to a lower incidence of heart attacks and death due to cardiovascular disease.

Drinking more than 10 to 12 drinks a day might lead to hypertriglyceridemia and ketoacidosis in diabetics. Furthermore, substantial drinking during a fast might result in hypoglycemia, which raises the mortality risk for diabetics due to factors other than cardiovascular disease.

In the case of diabetics, there is no common guideline for how to properly consume alcohol. Get help from your doctor if you’re struggling with alcoholism. 

Don’t believe in the rumours regarding particular alcohol consumption and diabetes benefits without proper verification with your doctor.

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