Can I drink alcohol with diabetes?
It is hardly worth talking about the dangers of excessive drinking by healthy people, and for diabetics, the effects of alcohol can be unpredictable.
How different types of alcohol affect the body of a diabetic
Different alcoholic beverages have different effects on the body of a diabetic. Alcohol interferes with the transfer of glucose into cell tissues, so the initial effect of alcohol intake is to lower blood sugar levels. However, depending on the type of alcohol, its effect on the diabetic’s body may be the opposite. The sugar level can rise sharply if the alcoholic beverage contains a large amount of carbohydrates or sugar:
- Strong alcoholic drinks: vodka does not contain any useful substances, although it has a fairly high calorie content. 100 grams of vodka / whiskey contains 0.1 grams of carbohydrates in the form of sugar. Cognac is made from grape alcohol, which also explains the presence of sugar in it;
- Dry red and white wines: These light alcoholic beverages are the safest for diabetics if they are drunk wisely. Although they have a fairly high calorie content, they have little sugar;
- Dessert and fortified wines: this type of alcoholic beverage is characterized by a higher alcohol content due to its high sugar content;
- Liqueurs and liqueurs, alcoholic cocktails: these drinks are made by infusing ordinary alcohol on various bases: berries, herbs or vegetables. Most often they contain an excess of sugar and have a fairly high strength;
- Carbonated low-alcohol drinks: despite their low alcohol content, they pose the greatest threat to a patient with diabetes. Due to the presence of carbon dioxide in the drink, alcohol is absorbed very quickly in the stomach, so the body’s reaction can be unpredictable;
- Beer: does not have a high strength, but contains a large amount of carbohydrates and carbon dioxide, which also makes the effect of beer on the body of a diabetic very dangerous.
There are properties of alcohol that can be conventionally called a little harmful to the human body. But in the case of diabetic patients, this can have a negative effect, in terms of its severity many times greater than the harm to a healthy person:
- Any alcoholic beverage increases appetite, while alcohol interferes with the delivery of glucose to the cells of the tissues of the human body. It is almost impossible to predict how alcohol will manifest itself in combination with a large amount of food;
- Mild alcohol intoxication in its manifestations is very similar to the state when the blood sugar level is low. Neither the diabetic himself, nor his relatives or the people around him may not notice an impending serious condition – a glycemic coma;
- Alcohol dulls attention and leads to an inadequate assessment of reality. The diabetic loses control over his condition, which can also lead to diabetic coma.
Alcohol inhibits the liver and prevents the conversion of protein into glucose, the danger is manifested not in a high sugar level, but on the contrary – sugar can drop instantly, while the signs of glycemia are very similar to those of mild intoxication. Is it possible to drink alcohol in diabetes mellitus, based on the above, it is up to the patient to decide personally, but you can take into account the basic principles that will help minimize harm and reduce the risk of a glycemic crisis:
- Drink alcohol sparingly and in small doses. Strong drinks at one time should not exceed 30-50 ml, dry wine can be drunk no more than 140-160 ml, which is one ordinary glass. It is better to completely exclude sweet alcoholic drinks and beer from your diet;
- A festive meal or meal accompanied by alcohol should be carbohydrate in composition;
- During one meal, do not mix alcoholic beverages, especially if different raw materials are used in their production. It is not recommended to combine cereal-based alcohol (vodka, whiskey, beer) and grape-based drinks (cognac and wine).
The impact of alcohol on a person is so individual that it is almost impossible to predict the body’s reaction to one or another type of alcohol.
Absolute contraindications for diabetics
Ultimately, if the recommendations of doctors are not followed, diabetes leads to the emergence of severe secondary diseases. Diabetes mellitus disrupts all metabolic processes in the body and leads to diseases that have a direct threat to life, in which it is better to exclude alcohol completely:
- Cardiovascular diseases – the heart and blood vessels are most negatively affected. Considering that high blood pressure is one of the factors in the onset of diabetes, after the onset of the disease, negative phenomena are aggravated. Alcohol, even in healthy people, causes an irregular heart rhythm and an abrupt increase in blood pressure. Such conditions are especially dangerous for patients with diabetes mellitus;
- Chronic pancreatitis – the processing of alcohol that enters the body with alcoholic beverages leads to a heavy load on the pancreas, and the liver is responsible for removing substances from the body that remain after the processing of alcohol. Drinking alcohol blocks the production of essential enzymes;
- Diabetic nephropathy – with diabetes mellitus, the products of nitrogen metabolism accumulate in the kidneys, which lead to kidney damage. For diabetic patients, frequent urination is characteristic. Any alcohol, especially beer, has a diuretic effect, so having kidney problems and drinking alcohol leads to severe dehydration of the diabetic’s body, which can be very dangerous;
- Cirrhosis of the liver – often accompanies severe forms of diabetes mellitus, since the liver does not receive enough glucose, fat accumulates in the liver cells. Also, cirrhosis of the liver can be of medicinal origin, since patients with diabetes mellitus have to take a large amount of drugs that harm the liver;
- Obesity is one of the factors in the appearance of this endocrinological disease and progresses in the case of non-compliance with the diet and improper treatment. Alcoholic drinks have a high calorie content and provoke an increase in appetite. Such events increase the risk of hyperglycemic coma;
- Taking medications, the combination of which with alcohol is contraindicated. In the best case, drugs will lose their therapeutic effect, and in the worst case, additional harm will be caused to all body systems.
When drinking alcoholic beverages, you must follow the rules:
- Strictly adhere to the minimum dose;
- Do not drink alcohol on an empty stomach, only with or after meals;
- Measure blood sugar levels during the meal;
- Remember that sugar reduction can be delayed over time and glycemic coma can occur during sleep.