Living with diabetes doesn’t mean you have to live a life of deprivation and misery, but you’ll need to play it smart when it comes to drinking.
Alcohol can have an impact on blood sugar, and you should be aware of its effects. Here are some facts on alcohol and the impact drinking has on the health and safety of a person with diabetes.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects how your body turns food into energy, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Your body converts food into glucose (sugar) that goes into the bloodstream. The pancreas reacts by releasing insulin. When an individual has diabetes, insulin isn’t released or isn’t processed correctly, resulting in too much glucose in the bloodstream. High blood sugar or glucose levels can be dangerous and result in serious health conditions.
Can you drink alcohol with diabetes?
The topic of diabetes and alcohol is discussed in a 2021 Mount Sinai Health Library article. The article suggests it’s safe to drink alcohol if:
- Your diabetes is under control.
- Your healthcare provider has given you the OK to drink moderately.
- You understand how alcohol can affect your blood sugar and the precautions to take to prevent problems.
How does alcohol affect diabetes?
To understand how alcohol affects blood sugar levels, it’s important to first understand how what you eat and drink is processed in the body.
The liver processes what you consume and converts it into glucose. This is the body’s main source of energy. Glucose is then released into the bloodstream throughout the day when your body needs it, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Dr. Matthew Freeby, director of the Gonda Diabetes Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, explains the role alcohol plays in this process.
“When alcohol is consumed, it may reduce the liver’s ability to produce glucose,” he said. “There’s a risk for low blood sugars, because essentially the liver is trying to metabolize the alcohol rather than produce glucose.”
The result is less glucose in your bloodstream, causing low blood sugar or hypoglycemia.
Signs of hypoglycemia can look similar to those of someone who’s had too much to drink. This includes