Alcohol is everywhere – at family gatherings, at social dos, after a game, at parties. It is a social order to have drinks at such gatherings. Excessive alcohol consumption over long periods of time especially by diabetics can further reduce the body’s ability to metabolize glucose.
Diabetics need to be aware that alcohol can cause hypoglycemia (very low blood sugar levels), especially when combined with diabetes medications prescribed to lower blood sugar levels. Many alcoholic drinks also contain sugar which needs to be taken into consideration. This includes cocktails, spirits with non sugar-free mixers, sweetened wines, Sherries, and ports.
Although an occasional drink may not hurt blood sugar control, it can harm eating plan if your goal is weight loss. Alcohol does not give any nutrients and only supplies empty calories. Since the calorific values provided by alcohol is similar to the fats, body processes alcohol in a manner similar to fats, A diabetic can choose to drink alcohol occasionally and only when your blood glucose levels are controlled. If a drink is unavoidable, it is better to drink alcohol with food or after eating a snack in order to moderate blood sugar levels. Alcohol moves very quickly into the blood without being broken down (metabolized) in the stomach and adds to the chances of having low blood sugar. Alcohol is a toxin. Therefore, drinking as little as 2 ounces of alcohol on an empty stomach can lead to very low blood sugar. Always have a no calorie beverage by your side to quench your thirst.
Heavy alcohol intake is a risk factor, especially for type 2 diabetes. Alcohol abuse damages the pancreas, which in turn can cause or aggravate diabetes and result in rise of high blood pressure, retinal diseases, and damages to the peripheral nerves. Consumption of alcohol by diabetics aggravates nerve damage in arms and legs.
When alcohol and exercise are mixed, the chances of blood sugar going low increases manifold. This can happen because exercise helps lower blood sugar levels as it replaces the energy used up by the muscles even hours after the exercise. During this process, it clears glucose from the blood and adds it to the muscles’ store and thus helps in lowering blood sugar levels.
A sizeable population of people with diabetes has been observed with high levels of triglycerides in their blood. Alcohol also incites the liver to make more triglycerides. Even light drinking as low as two to four ounce of wine a week can raise triglyceride levels. It would be a good idea to test blood sugars two hours after consuming the alcoholic drink to test effects of alcohol.
It is said that occasional and mild to moderate drinking can have some protective effect on heart disease. A diabetic who is used to drinks, but does not have any adverse effect of alcohol, maybe permitted to have a glass or two of wine, with his dinner. A person with diabetes should, however, exercise caution about his/her alcohol intake.
Some drinks offer better choices for diabetic people. It is advisable to select drinks low in alcohol and sugar. If mixers are used, choose ones that are sugar free, such as diet soft drinks, diet tonic, club soda, seltzer, or water. This will help keep blood sugar levels in the target range.
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