Alcohol is universally associated with celebration, and drinking is in all cultures and essential element of festivity. Today most of us are used to late night parties, and celebrations may it be birthdays, anniversaries and the likes. Alcohol has been taken as a way to relieve your stress, and ‘celebration’ is used as an excuse for drinking. There are certain cultures with a tradition of casual everyday drinking in addition to celebratory drinking.
Alcohol and diabetes… So, can you drink if you have diabetes?
The answer is ‘Yes’ BUT before you drink it is a good idea to educate yourself on how drinking can impact your blood sugar management.
Once you have a drink or alcohol enters your system, approximately 20% of alcohol is absorbed by your stomach and 80% by the small intestine. Alcohol is metabolized by the liver where enzymes break down alcohol into acetaldehyde – a highly toxic substance and a known carcinogen.
Glycogen( the storage form of glucose) is stored in our liver. Our liver works on breaking the glycogen and converting it to glucose when needed. Also, alcohol is processed by our liver, which is responsible for removing toxins and processing medications. So, alcohol reduces your liver’s efficiency at releasing glucose, drinking puts you at risk of alcohol-induced hypoglycemia. So your blood sugar might drop and stay low until your liver has dealt with the alcohol. That’s why you might crave carbs and wake up the next morning with a headache.
Adding to that a hypo can look a lot like being drunk, so this becomes difficult to identify and treat ahead of time. Hypoglycemia can occur immediately or up to 12-24 hours after drinking.
Alcohol to be more palatable is always accompanied by high carbs foods. These fast-acting carbs are quickly digested and converted to glucose, raising your blood glucose. It’s important to count your carbs and check your blood sugar while drinking. Remember hard alcohol by itself has zero carbs.
If you have diabetes (type 1 or type 2) drinking alcohol may put you at an increased risk of diabetic complications.
Risks of drinking:
- Increase in the triglyceride levels.
- Liver Cirrhosis
- Damage to the eye
- Increase in the blood pressure.
Here are a few handy tips on how to drink responsibly:
- Do not drink on an empty stomach
- Let your peers know you are diabetic
- Know your alcohol ( the alcohol and sugar content)
- Carry your glucometer, some fast acting carb, snack
- Test your sugars more frequently: before, during and after you drink.
- Talk to your doctor if any medication dosage needs to be modified.
If you’re having frequent trouble in managing your blood sugar levels, you should consider if it’s safe for you to drink alcohol.