Alcohol And Diabetes: What Do You Need To Know?

ALCOHOL AND DIABETES: what do you need to know?

If you have Type 1 diabetes and you are wondering if you can drink alcohol the answer is: Yes!

Having Diabetes doesn’t have to stop you enjoying yourself and having a drink or 2, you just have to be careful and check yourself more often.

Alcohol can lead to hypoglycemia in people that are treated with insulin so if you drink it’s better to take precautions in order to avoid side effects and risk your life.

It’s important to know that the effects of the alcohol don’t stop when you stop drinking but last for at least 24 hours after drinking, this can cause hypoglycemia not only when drinking but even the day after.

The reason is because your liver is able to store carbohydrates and to release them between meals and during the night and it is also in charge to break down toxins like alcohol in order for the kidneys to get rid of them, but it won’t do two things at the same time and will usually choose to metabolize the alcohol instead of stabilizing the glucose level, hence the hypoglycaemia.

So… what are the tips if you want to drink?

  1. Check your glucose level more often in order to know when your levels are dropping or spiking. Be aware that a lot of the hypoglycemia symptoms can be confused with drunkenness, so if you feel dizzy, confused or you have trouble walking or talking then it’s better to check your levels.

  2. Always eat and fill your stomach before drinking or always have a snack or two while enjoying a drink

  3. If you are carbs counting, be aware that alcohol can be tricky. Although most of alcohol drinks contain carbs, you might need to reduce your normal dose of insulin. This is because your are more likely to go low as explained before.

  4. Be sure to treat hypoglycemia before you fall asleep and remember to drink plenty of water as you might be dehydrated and if you are low treat it straight away even if you are feeling sick.

  5. Have diet or sugar-free mixers in your alcoholic drinks and try to avoid low sugar beers or cider as they usually contain more alcohol.

  6. Let your friends know how alcohol can impact your blood glucose level so they can look out for the symptoms as well.

But how much can you drink?

Diabetes doesn’t change the fact that alcohol is not healthy for our body and can lead to the development of different diseases in the future. The government guidelines are the same for people with or without diabetes which is 14 units of alcohol a week. But how much is a unit?

● 25 ml of vodka (a standard pub measure)
● 125 ml of wine (9%)
● half a pint of beer, cider or lager (3.5%). Be careful because many beers and wine often have higher alcohol content than this.

So don’t allow diabetes to stop you from enjoying yourself but it’s important to do things carefully and taking precautions in order to have a good time and don’t risk your health.