Do you love alcohol? Most people do. Drinks are a big part of festive occasions and special events. Many people also enjoy a glass or two of wine a day.
So, what about diabetics? They are always told to stay away from alcoholic beverages, another “guideline” to keep the blood glucose in check. Is there a reason why?
The answer is yes! The body processes alcohol like a drug. Once alcohol is consumed, the liver functions to break it down. While it is busy with this task, it may “forget” to release glucose when blood sugar drops, resulting in hypoglycemia. The risk of a hypoglycemic episode increases if you drink on an empty stomach. Animal model studies have shown that alcohol can stimulate the release of insulin, the blood sugar-reducing hormone. This is particularly important for diabetics who are on medication such as Glipizide, Glimepiride or insulin injections.
You may ask, “Why not just use alcohol to lower blood glucose?” Although theoretically true, alcohol can be unpredictable depending on the individual’s metabolism.
With all that said, there are some benefits from consuming alcohol, specifically red wine. A study published in 2007 concluded that a glass of alcoholic beverage might be beneficial as long as it is paired with some carbohydrate in a meal. Other advantages include lower risk of heart disease, diabetes (if you do not have it yet) and stroke, gallstone prevention, and increased levels of good cholesterol.
5 Important Points to Remember
#1 – Moderate amounts of alcohol are acceptable – 2 glasses for men and 1 glass for women at dinner. Do not overdrink!
#2 – Red wine is the best choice as it contains the most phenols, resveratrol, and tannins— compounds that provide health benefits.
#3 – Diet, exercise, and medication are still the most important line of defense.
#4 – Discuss drinking with your physician before starting.
#5 – Alcohol is not recommended for those who are currently using insulin injections, pregnant, or positive history of addiction.
Brazier Y. Red wine “benefits people with type 2 diabetes”. Medical News Today. Accessed 4/20/2017.
Marcus MB. Is red wine at dinner good for type 2 diabetes? CBS News. Accessed 4/20/2017.
Campbell A. Diabetes and alcohol: do the two mix? (Part 1). Diabetes Self-Management. Accessed 4/20/2017.
Campbell A. Diabetes and alcohol: do the two mix? (Part 2). Diabetes Self-Management. Accessed 4/20/2017.
Campbell A. Diabetes and alcohol: do the two mix? (Part 3). Diabetes Self-Management. Accessed 4/20/2017.