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December 8, 2017

Alcohol Consumption & Diabetes

Alcohol can be found in many consumables throughout our daily lives, mostly in social settings.  While not everyone drinks alcohol, there are those that do, especially with the holiday season approaching.  For people with diabetes, this can be a difficult…

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Diabetics & Alcohol Consumption

Home / Living with Diabetes / Alcohol Consumption & Diabetes

Alcohol can be found in many consumables throughout our daily lives, mostly in social settings.  While not everyone drinks alcohol, there are those that do, especially with the holiday season approaching.  For people with diabetes, this can be a difficult time of the year navigating around feasts and alcoholic beverages.  While there is no real reason to drink alcohol, those doubtful should always discuss this matter with their doctor.

A little knowledge on how the human body deals with alcohol can help clear things up a bit.  Alcohol is treated more like a drug rather than a meal, so liver activity increases dramatically reducing over-all functionality.  This is detrimental if the liver must also handle waning blood glucose levels, in which case it will do so poorly as it will prioritize metabolizing alcohol first.  If you normally control blood glucose via healthy diet and exercise exclusively, a little alcohol in moderation should pose no problem.  If you are on any kind of medication things can get complicated though, and you run the risk of losing control of your blood glucose levels, especially on an empty stomach.

Pros & Cons

The unpredictable nature of alcohol can also prove difficult to determine an accurate health risk-assessment with any type of certainty.   Alcohol tolerance levels vary greatly from person to person and depend on many factors, leading to unmanageable blood glucose levels.  One of the factors for this occurrence may be better understood in a study out of Sweden, in where alcohol in rats sent large amounts of blood to beta cells in the pancreas leading to increased insulin secretion and thus lowering blood glucose levels. This is not always a bad thing though, as in the case of Type 2 diabetes where a high-carb meal can be combined with alcohol to mitigate hyperglycemia.  As another study in Israel found that a glass of an alcoholic beverage could be given to people with Type 2 diabetes along with their evening meals to reduce fasting blood glucose levels over a three month period.

Pros:

  • Lowered risk of heart disease
  • Lowered risk of stroke
  • Raise HDL levels (“good”) cholesterol
  • Lowered risk of Type 2 diabetes
  • Prevention of gallstones

Cons:

  • Hypoglycemia
  • Higher risk of Cancer
  • Increased risk of Pancreatitis
  • Cardiomyopathy (weakening of the heart muscle)
  • Cirrhosis
  • High blood pressure
  • Miscarriage
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome
  • Accidents

Some people who should avoid alcoholic beverages altogether include people with a history of alcoholism, out of control diabetes, liver or pancreatic diseases, on medication or pregnant women.  Be responsible when drinking alcohol and and ask your doctor for additional advice if unsure about how much you could consume safely.

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