What You Need To Know About Type 1 Diabetes And Alcohol
To put your first question to rest, the answer is yes. You can drink alcohol with type 1 diabetes! Of course, like anyone with or without type 1, its still important to monitor how much you have to drink. The recommended daily intake for everyone, whether they have type 1 diabetes or not is no more than two drinks per day if you are a man or one drink per day if you are a woman.
Having diabetes means that in addition to consuming responsibly, you will also need to understand the effect of alcohol on blood sugar and keep an eye on it while drinking.
Being Drunk Vs Low Blood Glucose Levels
Alcohol can cause blood sugar levels to rise or fall fast, so it is important to monitor how drinking affects your blood sugar levels, depending on the drink and whether you have eaten recently.
It’s important that the company you go out with and drink alcohol with knows what to do in case of an emergency. If you consume too much alcohol, you may experience a low blood sugar level and become disoriented or even unconscious. There is also a difference between being drunk and having low blood glucose levels, even though the symptoms might seem similar at that moment.
This is why it’s best not to drink alone! It’s best if your friends know how to treat someone who is suffering from hypoglycemia by giving them glucose tablets or sugary drinks until they can seek medical assistance as soon as possible.
The best way for people with diabetes to monitor their own blood sugar levels while drinking beer is through continuous glucose monitoring.
Check Your Blood Sugar Levels More Frequently
And last but not least, always check your blood sugar levels more frequently when drinking alcohol. Your healthcare provider can best advise you on how often to test your blood glucose levels while drinking alcohol and adjust the dose of insulin you take if needed.
The best way for people with diabetes to monitor their own blood sugar levels while drinking beer is through continuous glucose monitoring. This means that a small sensor is placed under the skin of diabetics, which transmits information about their glucose level in real-time to a smartwatch or your smartphone.
Your blood sugar should be between 5.5 and 7.8 mmol/L before going to bed. If you read a lower result on your blood glucose meter eat something with carbs, make sure you lower your insulin injection or lower your insulin pump basal rate for the night. If you don’t take action you could reach dangerously low blood sugar levels during the night.
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Tips For Drinking Safely With T1d
Helpful tips for any occasion
Whether it be a birthday party, game night or something else, these tips will help you be prepared for any occasion where you may consume alcohol:
Know the signs of low and high blood sugar: Let your friends know about how alcohol impacts your body when you have T1D, and go over the signs of hypo- and hyperglycemia.
Make sure they can spot the signs of low blood sugar and know to call 911 immediately if you have trouble eating or become unresponsive. If you use a continuous glucose monitor or flash glucose monitor , consider sharing your data so that your friends can help track your levels.
Dont forget to eat: Always drink alcohol on a full stomach or eat while you are drinking. Before bed, have a snack high in protein and fat. You may want to set an alarm for a few hours after you go to sleep to check your blood sugar in the middle of the night.
Adjust your insulin dosing as needed: Discuss with your doctor or endocrinologist about how different types of alcohol affect your blood sugar and consider making changes to your insulin dosing before, during and after drinking alcohol.
Plan ahead for cardio: If you anticipate that youll be dancing, running around or anything else that may raise your heart rate, you might want to prepare for a drop in blood sugar. Plan ahead by decreasing your basal insulin dose if you wear a pump, or eating extra carbohydrates.
Diabetes And Sleep: What Research Says
A study suggests that 7-8 hours of sleep is recommended for an adult for their body to function correctly. Nowadays, most health issues have one common cause: an irregular sleep cycle. Excess sleep and sleep deprivation both adversely affect your health.
One of the adverse health problems directly linked to irregular sleep is the bodys blood sugar levels. Constant disruption in blood sugar levels can increase diabetes risk. Other health problems that can occur due to sleep issues are obesity and heart-related concerns. A study says that people with diabetes are more prone to kidney, eye, or heart diseases. A stable blood sugar level reduces the likelihood of chronic health issues, particularly heart disease and stroke. Research reveals that people with diabetes have an increased risk of heart attack.
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Serving Size Of Alcohol
Paying attention to the proper serving size of alcohol can help avoid excess consumption. One serving of alcohol is approximately two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. A serving of alcohol is equivalent to 5 oz. of wine or 1 Â½ oz. of distilled spirits or 12 oz. of beer. To avoid over-drinking, try sipping your drink slowly or mix alcohol with non-caloric beverages such as club soda, diet tonic water or diet soda. Finally, enjoy a snack or meal while drinking to prevent low blood sugar.
Heavy Alcohol Use And Diabetes
As stated above, glucose is used as an energy source for your muscle and liver cells. If you consume a lot of alcohol and you become hypoglycemic you can wipe out your energy storage in just a few hours. Excessive alcohol consumption can reduce the overall effectiveness of insulin. This results in high blood sugar levels. Many people who have been diagnosed with alcoholic liver disease also have either glucose intolerance or diabetes.
Individuals who have been diagnosed with diabetes have to be very careful when it comes to drinking alcohol. Always consult with your physician about the risk alcohol can have on your body and with your medications. Some medications are not compatible with alcohol consumption. People with diabetes should be sure to pay attention to any potential warning of hypoglycemia.
For diabetics, the American Diabetes Association has guidelines regarding how much alcohol they should drink and recommendations on when to drink to avoid complications. Some of these recommendations include:
- No more than one drink per day for women
- Diabetics should not drink when their blood sugar levels are low or when they have an empty stomach
- Certain types of alcoholic beverages may be more detrimental for people with diabetes, including heavy craft beers due to the number of carbs and sugar that are in alcohol.
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Here’s How To Prepare
Since it’s difficult to predict how a drink or two will affect your blood sugar, being aware of your body and taking some precautions are your best bets for staying healthy, says Sheth. Here are some things you can do to help:
- Discuss with a diabetes care and education specialist to better understand how you can enjoy alcohol safely. And check with your physician to make sure any medications you are taking won’t negatively interact with alcohol.
- In general, adults with diabetes have the same limit for alcohol intake as other adults no more than one drink per day for a woman and no more than two drinks per day for men. Recognize the size of your drink. One serving of alcohol is five ounces of wine, a 12-ounce beer or one ounce of spirits.
- Don’t drink on an empty stomach.
- Sip your alcoholic drink slowly.
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
- If you are diabetic, check your blood sugar before and more frequently after drinking up to 24 hours later.
- When you drink, it’s good to have a family member or friend around who is aware that you have diabetes.
- Always keep the treatment plan for hypoglycemia in mind and have glucose tablets or gel on hand.
Learn more: Know How to Get the Healthiest Blood Sugar Possible.
Alcohol And Type 2 Diabetes: What You Need To Know
Drinking isn’t off limits when you have type 2 diabetes. Still, it’s important to understand how alcohol can affect your blood sugar, diet, weight, and more.
Many people with type 2 diabetes think they need to eliminate alcohol completely from their diet. But, in moderation, alcohol may actually have some health benefits.
For instance, moderate alcohol consumption may reduce the risk of developing diabetes in people who dont have the condition, particularly women, according to a data analysis published in the September 2015 issue of Diabetes Care. And in people who have type 2 diabetes that is well-controlled, a glass of red wine a day as part of a healthy diet may help improve heart disease risk factors, according to results of a two-year study published in Annals of Internal Medicine in October 2015.
However, you need to be thoughtful about including any type of alcohol, even red wine, in your type 2 diabetes management plan.
The most important thing is to make sure you arent drinking alcohol on an empty stomach, says Liz Brouillard, RD, LDN, CDE, nutrition manager at the Boston Medical Centers Center for Endocrinology, Nutrition, and Weight Management in Massachusetts. She recommends only drinking alcohol with a meal or snack that contains both carbohydrates and protein. That’s because alcohol can lower your blood sugar, creating a risky situation for people with type 2 diabetes.
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Resources On Beer Drinking And Diabetes
This whole process also made me look more closely at the beer-brewing process, trying to understanding how the making of different brews might play into their diabetes effect.
Four key resources I found the most helpful came from the Diabetes Daily Grind, and a carb-calorie count list over at Beer100.com.
All helpful stuff, if I do say so myself, and a lot of this factored into my experiment.
So, what did I find?
No matter the beer, it took about 30 minutes to start raising my blood sugar, but my levels began to smooth out within a couple of hours post-consumption. Sometimes they even started dropping.
Typical beer takes about 1.5 units of insulin for me . If I had a couple beers in one session and took 3 units stretched out over the course of an hour, I found I could stay in range, nice and steady on the CGM graph.
With a 25-minute pre-bolus, after drinking I typically see the alcohol liver effect, which is caused by your liver being too busy processing the residual alcohol in your system to naturally release the necessary glucose needed when your BG starts to drop. As a result, you can get hypoglycemic even though the initial beer may have raised your BG level. I found that my blood sugar usually starts dropping within 6 hours after drinking two or three brews. But its not a dramatic drop, so nothing to worry about too much for me.
Is Drinking Alcohol With Diabetes Dangerous
Drinking lots of alcohol is dangerous for anyone. However, with larger amounts of alcohol, serious hypoglycaemia can occur.
Some sources advise strict carbohydrate management, perhaps even chips or pizza, if a large amount of alcohol has been consumed.
However, avoiding alcohol in large quantities is the best recourse.
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Can Diabetics Drink Wine Beer Or Other Alcoholic Drinks
Everyones specific situation is different, and no one should make an important medical decision without first speaking with their doctor. As a general rule, however, people with diabetes can safely use alcohol in moderation. Drinking alcohol can be addictive and especially dangerous for those with diabetes binge drinking or heavy drinking should definitely be avoided, as it may cause dangerous episodes of hypoglycemia.
Try To Eat When You Consume Alcohol
Drinking alcohol is best combined with eating and not on an empty stomach. Eating a meal before or while you are drinking can help slow the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream and minimize blood sugar spikes and big drops after drinking.
Foods that are high in protein and fat are best to eat when drinking because they will help absorb the alcohol. Carbohydrates, like bread or pasta, are also good to consume with alcohol but be careful not to overdo it!
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Diabetes: Drinks To Avoid
Soda and energy drinks. Carbonated soft drinks and other sweetened beverages may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, weight gain, and metabolic syndrome. Excess weight is a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes, and both obesity and diabetes are characteristic of metabolic syndrome. For people who already have diabetes, this drink provides large amounts of sugar and requires little digestion.
Also, these drinks are not filling as they only contain simple carbohydrates and no fiber. This means that a person can quickly drink a lot of them. Drinking sodas without healthy food can lead to significant spikes in blood sugar levels. It is best to avoid or limit your intake of sodas and sugary energy drinks, to reduce the possibility of a sugar spike.
Fruit cocktail. Sugary drinks, such as fruit mixes, are healthy but often contain high levels of sugar and minimal amounts of natural fruit juice, which cause blood sugar levels to spike. They provide a high sugar concentration but a much lower nutritional value than 100% pure fruit juices.
How Sugar Affects Your Body
Too much sugar is bad for your heath in a number of ways. Firstly, its very high in calories, and excessive consumption can lead to unhealthy weight gain. Being overweight can make you more susceptible to long term health problems, including life threatening illnesses such as heart disease. A high-sugar diet can also lead to type 2 diabetes, which occurs when a persons blood sugar levels are too high.
Quite apart from the damage it can do to your body, sugar is also the main cause of tooth decay, which can lead to cavities if left untreated.
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How Does Alcohol Lower Blood Sugar
A standard alcoholic drink from time to time should not cause any serious effect on blood sugar levels.
A standard alcoholic drink tends to be:
- 12 ounces of beer
- 5 ounces of wine
- 1.5 ounces of whiskey or other spirits
Whether blood sugar levels rise or fall will depend on different factors. For example, how much food you’ve eaten and the amount of alcohol consumed.
A fall in blood sugar may arise from various causes. One leading cause is alcohols effect on the liver.
A primary function of the liver is to metabolize alcohol. It takes approximately one hour for the organ to break down a standard size alcoholic beverage.
However, if there is too much alcohol in the body, the liver has trouble performing other organ functions, including:
When these two liver processes do not occur due to alcohol metabolism, the body does not have glucose to help bring blood sugar levels back to normal. This means that someone can develop hypoglycemia .
Serious consequences may arise, including:
Why Does Alcohol Lower Blood Sugar
Many health benefits are associated with drinking a moderate amount of alcohol each day — such as lowering blood pressure, improving insulin sensitivity and reducing risk of developing cancer and heart disease. However, excessive alcohol intake can have negative health effects, such as liver disease and cancer. Alcohol can lower your blood sugar and, if you have diabetes, may interact with your diabetes medication.
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How Much Can I Drink
For most people, thereâs no harm in indulging in a few drinks once in a while. But the amount that constitutes this âmoderate drinkingâ can vary for everyone. If you have diabetes, for example, enjoying a cold beer is by no means off-limits, but itâs a good idea to limit yourself to smaller quantities and keep track of what you drink and how much.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it is recommended that men have no more than two alcoholic drinks per day and women have no more than one.
One drink is equivalent to one 12-ounce serving of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, or a 1.5-ounce shot of distilled spirits such as vodka, whiskey, gin, rum, and tequila.
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