Alcohol is known to be not really good for your health. This is especially true for people with diabetes. If you do drink alcohol, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
Although current research reports that daily consumption of small amounts of alcohol is in principle not harmful to the health of people with diabetes, it is also pointed out that alcohol can increase the risk of hypoglycemia.
More alcohol-related deaths in diabetes
The team adds that a retrospective study of people with diabetes mellitus showed that the risk of alcohol-related deaths is increased by a factor of 1.71 for people with diabetes taking oral therapy compared to people without diabetes.
Drinking alcohol in people who are taking insulin therapy increases the risk of alcohol-related deaths by almost sevenfold. In addition, alcohol consumption also appears to increase the risk of atrial fibrillation in people with diabetes, according to experts.
Interferes with the effectiveness of diabetes medications
On the subject of alcohol and diabetes, diabetes expert Andrea Harris from the Cleveland Clinic (USA) reports that alcohol can interfere with taking diabetes medications (e.g. insulin) and cause various complications.
She advises people with diabetes to have a medical consultation to clarify whether it is safe for them to consume alcohol. “You need to know whether your medications or other diabetes-related conditions could be seriously affected by alcohol consumption,” Harris explains in a press release.
According to the expert, two factors in particular play an important role when it comes to alcohol and diabetes. These are the compatibility of diabetes medications and alcohol as well as the effects of alcohol consumption on the liver.
Alcohol lowers blood sugar levels
Most diabetes medications lower blood sugar levels, and alcohol has the same effect, especially when consumed in large quantities, Harris explains. This dual effect can lower blood sugar levels to dangerously low levels, known as hypoglycemia.
It is possible that drunkenness is confused with hypoglycemia because both have common symptoms. These include blurred vision, slurred speech, difficulty with coordination, disorientation, dizziness and sweating.
Effects of alcohol on the liver
This is particularly problematic because the effects of alcohol on blood sugar can last up to 24 hours. The liver has several functions, one of which is the storage of glycogen, the stored form of glucose. This remains until the liver breaks it down in order to release it again when blood sugar is low, explains the expert.
However, consuming alcohol causes the liver to begin removing alcohol from the blood because it is a toxin. During this time, the liver neglects to break down glycogen, which increases the risk of hypoglycemia.
Consume alcohol safely despite diabetes
In general, the diabetes expert finally gives some advice on how you can safely consume alcohol despite having diabetes.
First, blood sugar levels should be monitored closely. This means that blood sugar levels should be checked before, during and after drinking alcohol.
If you notice that your blood sugar is falling, you should stop consuming alcohol and eat food instead to raise your blood sugar level again. In addition, people with diabetes should never drink alcohol on an empty stomach and, according to Harris, alcohol consumption should never be combined with exercise.
In addition, only small amounts of alcohol should be consumed daily and, if possible, it should not contain excess sugar and carbohydrates, as sweetened or particularly high-carbohydrate drinks increase blood sugar levels.
If you suffer from diabetes and want to drink alcohol, you should always have a medical diabetes certificate with you. This can be life-saving in cases of severe hypoglycemia and fainting, Harris explains.
Health problems caused by alcohol
The expert adds that it is never healthy to drink alcohol. For example, consumption can increase blood pressure and heart rate, increase anxiety, dehydrate the body and also disrupt sleep.
If you have diabetes, you should be particularly careful when consuming alcohol and only drink in moderation and check your blood sugar regularly, warns Harris. (as)