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Diabetes and alcohol: what you should care about

By on February 10, 2013 in Health with 0 Comments

Among the things that you need to know about diabetes and alcohol is the fact that a diagnosis of diabetes is not like your own personal 18th Amendment.  You are not prohibited from drinking alcohol.  At least, not necessarily.Alcohol can have an adverse effect on some medicines and every person is different in terms of their disease, glucose production, liver function and alcohol tolerance.  Therefore, your doctor should be the one to decide whether you would be better off with no alcohol at all.

The consensus is that alcoholic drinks should be limited to one a day for women and two a day for men for diabetics and the general population.  The difference is that diabetics need to be careful about what they drink and when.  There are two reasons for these added precautions: one is the effect that alcohol has on glucose production, and the other is the number of calories in alcoholic drinks, particularly mixed drinks.

Alcohol is processed by the liver very rapidly.  Some sources suggest that the liver views alcohol as a drug, or a toxin – something to be eliminated as rapidly as possible.  Even so, each drink – a shot of spirits, five ounces of wine or 12 ounces of beer – takes between an hour and an hour and a half to be processed.

Under normal circumstances, the liver releases glucose whenever blood glucose levels begin to drop.  However, when the liver is preoccupied with breaking down the alcohol into less harmful substances, it may be distracted, and not realize that in an effort to prevent low blood glucose (hypoglycemia). But with alcohol on board, this may not happen.  It is, therefore, imperative that diabetics eat some carbohydrates with any drink.  It is also important to stick to drinks that are relatively low in calories, drink slowly, and not drink soon after exercising.

Other precautions to take when drinking are: tell your friends about hypoglycemia, wear a medical ID bracelet, carry glucose tablets and test your blood sugar frequently.

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