Diabetes can affect the body’s ability to metabolize sugar. It can be controlled by diet and exercise, but sometimes medication is also needed. One of the most common side effects of diabetes is high blood glucose levels, which can lead to dehydration and low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). However, there are other things that can affect your body’s ability to process sugar properly if you’re diabetic, like alcohol consumption. Let’s take a look at some of the ways alcohol consumption affects people who have diabetes.
Alcohol is a sugar, and it’s absorbed into the bloodstream very quickly. When this happens, your body becomes more likely to experience hypoglycemia – a condition that occurs when your blood sugar levels are too low. This can lead to dangerous symptoms such as confusion, blurred vision and fainting.
In addition to these physical effects of consuming alcohol with diabetes, if you do drink alcohol while taking insulin shots or other medications designed to lower your blood glucose levels, you may end up having dangerously low levels of both your medication and alcohol in your bloodstream at once.
Complicates diabetes management
- Alcohol can potentially mask the symptoms of low blood sugar.
- Alcohol can increase blood sugar levels.
- Alcohol can increase the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
- Drinking alcohol increases your risk for dehydration, which is already a concern for people with diabetes because it can cause or worsen diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a dangerous condition caused by too little insulin in the body that results in high levels of ketones in the urine and other bodily fluids.
May damage your liver
Your body is likely to face severe ill effects when alcohol and diabetes meet. If you have diabetes, alcohol can damage the liver. Alcohol is a toxin that causes fatty liver, which leads to scarring of the liver and cirrhosis. The risk of this happening increases with age and with how much alcohol you drink. Liver disease may make it difficult for your body to break down insulin, which can make blood glucose levels rise higher than they should. This can lead to life-threatening complications such as hypoglycemia or ketoacidosis (which occurs when there is too little insulin available in the body).
Increases insulin resistance
Insulin resistance is a common complication of Type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body’s cells don’t use insulin properly, which can lead to Type 2 diabetes and other health problems.
Insulin resistance is caused by eating too much sugar. That’s why it’s important to eat plenty of whole foods (fruits, vegetables, legumes) that don’t contain any added sugar and limit your alcohol consumption if you’re trying to reduce your risk of developing insulin resistance.
Increases blood sugar levels
The effect of alcohol on blood sugar levels is a major concern for diabetics. Alcohol increases blood sugar levels by causing the liver to release glucose into the bloodstream, and it also inhibits the liver’s ability to produce insulin. Alcohol also inhibits the liver’s ability to remove glucose from the bloodstream, which can lead to high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia).
We hope that this article has helped you to understand the consequences of consuming alcohol in diabetes. As those at Tandem Diabetes point out, “always pay attention to your symptoms, actively monitor your glucose levels, and treat according to your healthcare provider’s recommendations.” That should help you make an informed decision about alcohol consumption.