If you are diabetic then you need to moderate the level of alcohol you consume. Otherwise you could find yourself facing some serious health problems. First, alcohol does not combine well with chemical medication. Secondly, whilst alcoholic drinks do contain calories, they do not have the minerals, vitamins and nutrients that you get in your food. Thirdly, alcoholic beverages contain a lot of sugar which will impact on your blood sugar (glucose) levels.
One of the key things you need to do as a diabetic is control your blood sugar levels. Getting adequate rest, consuming lots of fluids and eating the right foods will all help you control your diabetes. However, monitoring what you eat and drink is a major factor because everything you eat and drink will affect your glucose levels either positively or negatively. Most foods will assist diabetics by keeping their blood sugar levels even but alcohol is not one of these foods.
It is a well known fact that alcohol causes dehydration which is one of the reasons you always want more to drink after consuming an alcoholic beverage. Alcohol also has a very high calorie count. If you consume high levels of alcohol you will gain weight and the amount of fat in your bloodstream will increase. This in turn makes it even harder to control your blood sugar levels.
If your diabetes is not fully under control then you should avoid alcohol completely. However, if your diabetes is under fairly tight control, consuming alcohol in moderation is fine. Just make sure that you follow both your doctor’s advice and the guidelines below.
- A diabetic man can safely consume 1-2 alcoholic beverages per day.
- A diabetic woman can consume 1 alcoholic beverage per day.
- A diabetic who is 65 or over can consume 1 alcoholic beverage per day.
When consumed, alcohol goes directly into your bloodstream and your liver – it does not get metabolised. The human body can only break down one ounce of alcohol per hour. If you are not eating enough good food and drinking large quantities of alcohol you are putting yourself at risk of hypoglycaemia (having lower than normal glucose in the blood). Alcohol reduces the level of glucose in your blood. This causes the liver to change carbohydrate reserves into glucose which makes the situation of low blood sugar levels even worse. If you are going to consume alcohol make sure that you also eat a good meal to maintain your glucose levels.
White and red wines, dry sherry, dry light beers and spirits (including whiskey, gin and vodka) with diet or sugar free mixers are all acceptable for diabetics to consume in moderation. However, alcoholic beverages with high sugar content (sweet wines or sherries, ports, heavy or dark sweetened beers, wine coolers, spirits with normal mixers, cocktails and liqueurs) and alcoholic beverages with very high alcohol concentration such as neat, undiluted spirits, should be consumed with extreme caution.
Although these are good guidelines to follow when considering the consumption of alcohol with your diabetes, they are not a substitute for medical advice. If you are diabetic you should always consult your doctor before drinking alcohol.