How Does Alcoholism Affect People With Diabetes?

Alcohol and diabetes relations are a topic where many questions arise, the main being: does alcohol raise blood sugar? According to WebMD, when people with diabetes drink alcohol, it causes their blood sugar levels to rise or fall.

Moreover, alcohol has many calories. Is drinking alcohol allowed for people with diabetes? People with diabetes should occasionally drink when their blood sugar levels are controlled. However, it is always better to consult your doctor before indulging in alcohol.

Effects of Alcohol on Blood Sugar Levels of People with Diabetes

The overall health and well-being of the human body determine how the body responds to alcohol consumption. People with diabetes should be careful when consuming alcohol.

Drinking alcohol is likely to affect blood sugar levels and hormones, maintaining balanced blood sugar levels. Alcoholics exhaust their energy within a short period. Excessive alcohol and diabetes cause dire health implications for diabetics.

Long exposure to excessive drinking of alcohol will reduce the effectiveness of insulin, which leads to an increase in blood sugar levels. Most of those who suffer from alcoholic liver disease have glucose intolerance or are diabetics.

Diabetics should consult a diabetes specialist to understand the risks involved in alcohol consumption. It is important to know your options, the risks involved, and how best to manage them. For example, some medications should not be used alongside alcohol. Always consult your doctor when using medication.

Drinking alcohol can cause very low blood sugar levels, which is dangerous for people with diabetes. It causes the liver to change its function from controlling blood sugar levels to removing alcohol from the blood. Some symptoms of low blood sugar levels are:

  • Drowsiness
  • Migraines
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Falling unconscious
  • Uncoordinated movements

Effects of Alcohol on Diabetes. Can people with diabetes drink alcohol?

  • Type 1 diabetes and alcohol are not a good match. Even drinking in moderation may cause diabetics’ blood sugar levels to rise. However, excessive alcohol consumption decreases blood sugar levels dangerously for people with type 1 diabetes.
  • Beers and sweet wines contain carbohydrate, which increases blood sugar levels.
  • Drinking alcohol increases blood pressure.
  • Alcoholic drinks contain high-calorie content, making it difficult to shed excess weight.
  • Alcohol consumption may cause you to flush, feel nauseous, and slur your speech.
  • If on medication, drinking alcohol may affect the effectiveness of the medication or insulin
  • Alcohol consumption increases your appetite, which may cause you to make poor food choices or overeat, leading to increased blood sugar levels.
  • Alcohol consumption can increase triglyceride levels.

Pathogenesis of type 1 and type 2 diabetes

They have distinct pathogenetic pathways. However, they both have genetic and environmental components in their pathogenesis. It is important to understand the pathogenesis of each type, to help effectively prevent or treat diabetes mellitus.

Type 1 Diabetes

Most who are affected by this type are children and young people. It has a weak genetic link and is triggered by viral infection. It is an autoimmune disease. This means the destruction of beta cells over several years before diagnosis. They are the body cells that make the insulin that regulates blood glucose. Patients with this type of diabetes require insulin shots for survival. Only 5% of people with diabetes have this type of diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes

It is more common than type 1. It has a strong genetic association, but the genes are unknown. Other factors which cause type 2 diabetes are obesity, stress, and physical inactivity. Additionally, alcohol and diabetes type 2 do not match. In this type of diabetes, the body produces inadequate amounts of insulin, or the cells fail to utilize the insulin. Hyperglycemia causes the problem of beta-cell defect and insulin resistance. Complications associated with type 2 diabetes include heart failure, kidney failure, and even blindness.

It is advisable to lead a healthy lifestyle as a prevention measure against diabetes. Eat healthy natural foods, exercise, and maintain a healthy weight.

Types of alcohol and their effects

Best alcohol for diabetics to drink

Does alcohol turn into sugar? Is there any sugar-free alcohol for diabetics? People with diabetes struggle to find factual answers to these questions. Good drinks for diabetics are low sugar alcoholic drinks. Below are some suggestions.


Before indulging in beer, ask these questions: can a diabetic drink beer? Moreover, how much sugar in beer? There are low carb beers that have fewer calories than regular beers.

Red wine

Red wine has many health benefits. The best red wine for diabetics to drink, as the scientists say, is Pinot Noir. Red wine has a high antioxidant content. Drinking it reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Additionally, it reduces the risk of diabetes-related complications such as diabetic retinopathy.

White wine

The carb content of white wines is almost the same as red wines.

Distilled spirits

They contain few or no carbs. However, they pose a risk for hypoglycemia.

Low carb cocktails

Diabetics can consume low carb cocktails such as: martini, vodka soda, and Bloody Mary. However, they should avoid traditional cocktails with high sugar content.

Drinks to avoid

High-carb wines such as dessert wines. People with diabetes should avoid cream liquor that has the high-carb content.

Benefits of alcohol consumption for diabetics Risks of alcohol consumption for diabetics
Moderate alcohol consumption reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases Heavy drinking increases the risk of cardiovascular disease
Moderate drinking improves glucose levels and insulin intake Excessive drinking can cause high blood sugar levels
Moderate consumption of wine helps the body absorb insulin better Drinking alcohol while taking people with diabetes medication can lead to hypoglycemia

Effects of Alcohol Consumption in the Fed State

Diabetics should not be led to think alcohol consumption is lethal. For example, occasional moderate drinking of low-carb and low-sugar alcoholic drinks does not cause significant changes in blood sugar levels.

Some clinical trials (Swade and Emanuele 1997) have proved that drinking a meal may slightly lower blood sugar levels, which may be high in diabetics. The benefit is for women and men of all ages. The doses administered in the trial were the equivalent of a maximum of five standard drinks. Excessive alcohol consumption in this condition increases blood sugar levels. This may lead to hyperglycemia. Drinking alcohol in the fed state can reduce blood glucose levels for both types of diabetes. The reduction of blood glucose levels is hypoglycemia, which poses fatal risks. Sufficient blood sugar levels are required for proper brain functioning.

Effects of Alcohol Consumption in the Fasting State

Alcohol may prevent autophagy.

When you are fasting, the body starts cellular repair processes. One of the processes is autophagy, where damaged proteins are ejected from the cells to allow the generation of healthy cells.

Autophagy reduces the risk of cancer, promotes anti-aging effects and restricts calories, which increases lifespan.

Choose good alcohols for diabetics.

If you drink alcohol while fasting, the alcohol breaks your fast. When fasting, drink alcohol only during your eating period. Be conscious of the amounts of alcohol you consume. Stick to low-carb and low-sugar alcoholic drinks. Healthy options are: wine, whisky, vodka, and spirits.

For spirits, you can dilute them down with water. Avoid mixed drinks and sweet wines, which have higher sugar content. Consume alcohol in moderation and advisably during your eating period.

Alcohol’s Effects on Complications of Diabetes

Heart disease

Consumption of alcohol affects blood pressure. Surprisingly, moderate amounts of alcohol consumption lead to lower blood pressure than non-consumption. High blood pressure causes cardiovascular disease, which is one of the conditions that diabetics are at risk of developing. Therefore, diabetics are advised to keep their alcohol consumption at a moderate level. It is a leading cause of death for people with type 2 diabetes.

Peripheral Neuropathy

This condition is mainly caused by diabetes and alcohol consumption. It is a condition where nerves from the spinal cord, which control muscle function, are damaged. For diabetics, the symptoms of the disease are more prevalent and become more severe with increased duration of having the disease. Alcohol enhances the risk of nerve damage for diabetics.

It is an eye disease associated with people with diabetes and a leading cause of blindness. Measures for preventing the disease include blood sugar control, blood pressure control, and regular eye check-ups. High consumption of alcohol increases the risk of developing the disease in diabetics. Neuropathy is more severe in alcoholics.

How drinking alcohol contributes to the conditions that cause diabetes

  1. Excessive consumption of alcohol reduces the body’s ability to absorb and utilize insulin, which may lead to diabetes.
  2. Excessive drinking of alcohol causes chronic inflammation of the pancreas, which leads to diabetes.
  3. Excessive alcohol consumption leads to obesity due to the high-calorie content in some alcoholic drinks. Obesity and being overweight can lead to diabetes type 2.

Diabetes and Alcohol Consumption Dos and Don’ts

  1. Women should have only one drink a day, and two drinks for men.
  2. Consumption of alcohol should only be during meals.
  3. Practice drinking slowly.
  4. Avoid high-sugar content alcoholic drinks.
  5. Avoid high-carb content alcoholic drinks.
  6. Mix your alcoholic drinks with water or low-sugar soft drinks.
  7. Always wear an alert that shows you have diabetes. It also helps if your alert has personal information, medical information, and emergency contacts.


Occasional moderate consumption of alcohol is not dangerous for people with diabetes. It doesn’t have a significant effect on blood sugar levels. Moderate alcohol consumption has some benefits, which reduce the risks associated with diabetes. Note that regular drinking of alcohol, even in moderate amounts, is not advisable for people with diabetes. However, we advise you to seek medical consultation, depending on your ailment.

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