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Alcohol and Diabetes: What To Know

Can people with diabetes enjoy alcoholic beverages? The answer is yes, if they follow a few simple guidelines– learn how to safely enjoy alcohol and still stay healthy with diabetes.

Transcript:

It’s a common question– can people with diabetes still drink alcoholic beverages? The short answer is yes, but you need to make smart choices and understand the impact that alcohol can have on your blood sugar.

According to the American Diabetes Association, people with diabetes should follow the same guidelines for alcohol consumption as people without diabetes, which are:

Women should have no more than 1 drink per day and men should have no more than 2 drinks per day. Always check with your doctor first to see what is right for you.

One drink is equal to a 12 oz. beer, a 5 oz. glass of wine or 1.5 oz. spirits or hard liquor.

Alcoholic beverages are broken into four categories– spirits, beer, wine, and liqueurs and each category has a different effect on blood sugar.

Spirits include gin, rum, tequila, whisky, and vodka. For all practical purposes, they have no carbohydrate count, so they don’t raise blood sugar. In fact, they can actually cause a low blood sugar in people who are on certain diabetes medications which is why you want to talk to your doctor about alcohol. But for most people, in appropriate quantities, they pose no problems when consumed straight-up or on the rocks.

The problem comes with mixed drinks because many mixers have lots of sugar which can cause your blood sugar to go too high. The solution for diabetes-friendly mixed drinks is to use sugar free mixers. For instance, a rum and diet coke would be a much better choice than rum and regular coke. The good news is that you can find low-carb versions of many commercial mixers.

Always check the nutrition facts label of whatever you’re drinking to check the carbohydrate count so you know what impact it will have on your blood sugar.

Beers and ales have a greater carb and calorie content than many other alcoholic drinks. This makes them both more likely to raise blood sugar and cause weight gain which is another reason for moderation! If you are a beer drinker struggling with weight, consider switching to a lighter beer.

Liqueurs like amaretto and Kahlua have high levels of added sugar and need to be consumed in small quantities by people with diabetes.

Red and white wines have very few carbs and they won’t raise your blood sugar. There is some evidence that moderate consumption of alcohol can be beneficial to both your heart and your cholesterol.

This doesn’t mean that you should start drinking if you currently don’t, but it does mean that you should feel comfortable if you are regularly enjoying moderate alcohol consumption.

Finally, one word of warning about alcohol. Alcohol is metabolized by your liver, and doing this can keep your liver busy. Busy enough, sometimes, that it isn’t as efficient about releasing its stored glucose when needed. This is why drinking heavily without eating can cause low blood sugar which can be really dangerous. It is always a good idea to combine alcohol with some type of snack or food that contain carbs. And if you struggle with drinking too much, please get help. Everything in moderation is the key to successful diabetes control.

So now you know what you need to know. Yes, you can drink alcohol with diabetes. You just need to do three things:

1) Keep your consumption moderate—one drink per day for women, two drinks per day for men.

2) Choose low carb options

3) If you are keeping track of carbs, then remember to include the carbs are in your drink into your carb budget for that meal.

Cheers!

The medical information in these videos is provided as an information resource only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. It does not create any patient-physician relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Similarly, please consult your physician or health care provider before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have seen in a Diabetes- What To Know video. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.

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