Alcohol and Blood Sugar

If you need to stay on top of your blood sugar, it is important for you to know that alcohol consumption can greatly affect your levels. Diet, nutrients and stored glucose are the three blood glucose sources. Glucagon and insulin are the hormones that regulate your levels. Your body will make more blood glucose if your levels drop and release insulin to stop it when it reaches the right points. Since alcohol can skew your blood sugar, it can mess up the insulin levels in your body.

Wine and Chocolate

How does Alcohol Affect Blood Sugar?

Alcohol and blood sugar are a funny combination. How they react depends on how much you consume. When you drink alcohol, your body will make all efforts to rid of it and stop the process of regulating blood sugar levels. Alcohol consumption has a great impact on the hormones and sources of glucose that help to regulate blood sugar levels.

If you frequently drink heavily, your body would be depleted of glycogen stores in just a couple of hours when you don't provide your body with enough carbohydrates. Long time exposure to excessive alcohol will compromise the effectiveness of the insulin, causing your blood sugar levels to rise.

Even if you just drink alcohol occasionally, it'll still impact your blood sugar. When you drink an alcoholic beverage, it immediately enters your bloodstream and bypasses your stomach. This means it is not metabolized until it reaches your liver. Acute consumption of alcohol will make your body to produce more insulin, resulting in hypoglycemia, namely low blood sugar. In addition, the hormonal response that helps to regulate blood sugar will be impaired, further lowering your blood sugar levels.

Effects of Alcohol on Diabetes

Alcohol and blood sugar levels can affect diabetes in several different ways:

  • Carbohydrates, which are found in sweet wine and beer, can raise your blood sugar levels.
  • Excess alcohol consumption can cause a sharp drop in blood glucose levels, particularly in individuals with diabetes.
  • There are a lot of calories in alcoholic beverages, which makes it harder to lose weight.
  • Alcohol encourages appetite and affects willpower, leading to overeating and bad food choices.
  • Increased blood pressure and triglyceride levels have been associated with alcohol consumption.
  • Drinking alcoholic beverages counteracts the effects of insulin or other diabetes medications.
  • Symptoms of low blood glucose levels can be confused with intoxication as they can be similar, such as nausea, slurred speech and becoming flush.

Alcohol and Blood Sugar Guidelines

Individuals who have diabetes should follow these guidelines when consuming alcohol:

  • Men should not consume over two alcoholic drinks per day and women no more than one, keeping in mind that an alcoholic drink is equivalent to 1 ½ ounce of liquor, 5 ounce serving of wine or 12 ounce beer.
  • You should drink alcohol slowly and with food.
  • Instead of combining your alcohol with sugary mixers, mix with club soda, water or diet soda.
  • Stay away from cordials and sweet wines.
  • Wear a medical alert necklace or bracelet that identifies you as a diabetic.

More Things You Should Know About Alcohol and Blood Sugar

1. Drink Only One Glass

If you want to enjoy an alcoholic beverage, keep it to one glass of wine or beer. Avoid mixed drinks or sweet wines as they are full of carbohydrates, sugar and are high in calories. Make sure to eat before drinking or you may experience a spike in your blood glucose level.

Alcohol and blood sugar don't mix if you have glucose levels that erratically fluctuate. If your blood sugar is at the same level most of the time, it is okay to have a drink or two with a healthy meal.

2. Eat Healthy When Drinking

When having a glass of wine or a beer, eat a healthy snack to keep your blood sugar from getting too low. Make sure to check your levels before going to bed and eat something before going to sleep if your levels are on the low side.

3. Prepare for Dreaded Situations

People are curious, it is true. They will ask why you are only having one drink or avoiding desserts. Role play on how you will handle these situations so you don’t feel intimidated when they occur.

4. Think Before Sex

Energetic sex combined with alcohol can affect your blood glucose level, possibly lowering it to dangerous levels. Make sure you watch out for symptoms and monitor your blood sugar.

5. Consider Drug and Alcohol Interactions

It is important to know if any of your medications will negatively interact with alcohol consumption. It is also important to know when and how you should take your medications. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you are not sure on the instructions.

6. Have a Drink or Dessert – Not Both

If you are going to have wine or beer, skip dessert. Besides counting the calories, you need to make sure your body isn’t tricked into producing too much insulin. Since alcohol is full of carbohydrates, it can fool with your blood glucose levels.