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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Alcohol and Diabetes

Wow!  I have been gone for awhile, huh?  Sorry!  There has been a lot going on around here and I have slipped up.  Well, I am re-invigorated and will be back strong now.  I appreciate your support in reading this blog.

We have been discussing the effect of alcohol use on blood sugar levels.  Silent Sam was under the impression that he needed to be careful because drinking could raise his blood sugar level.  I was under the opposite impression from my reading.  So, it seems that some research was in order.

After all, this is an Irish German household and there certainly seems to be a place for a beer or two.  SS and my son are, what might be considered, beer snobs.  They do not drink any of the light beers.  I think it can be termed that they like to "chew" their beer.  Yes, Guiness is a favorite.  (Irish mother's milk)

As can be said of the general population, drinking is viewed with positives and negatives.  With diabetics, the issue is a bit more clouded.  While diabetics can use the cardio benefits from moderate drinking (generally, for women 1 drink a day and men 2 drinks a day) due to the disease they also have more to consider.

The first consideration is whether your blood sugar levels are under control.  If you are experiencing frequent highs and lows, you might want to get it more under control before you have a drink.  Alcohol will lower your blood sugar.  Why? Alcohol moves quickly into your blood stream and from there to your liver.  If your liver is busy cleaning the alcohol from your system then it cannot work on regulating your blood sugar.  You can slip into dangerously low blood sugar levels.

Alcohol also is not a good mix with some of the medicines prescribed for diabetics.  If you are taking a medicine to lower your blood sugar level then adding alcohol to the mix can be a recipe for hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

If you want to have a drink, here is a checklist of things you might want to consider

1.  Check with your diabetes care team about the interaction between your medicine and alcohol.

2.  Check your blood sugar level before you have a drink.  If it is low, eat something first.

3.  ALWAYS eat while you drink.  But don't let the alcohol influence your choice.  Remember to eat foods that are more in the healthy range (salsa and chips) than the unhealthy range (chicken wings soaked in blue cheese dressing).

4.  Avoid sugary drinks - use diet sodas or tonics as mixers. The American Diabetes Association reports that light beer and dry wines tend to have less alcohol, carbohydrates and calories.

5.  Wear your diabetes alert bracelet.  If you have low blood sugar, it can look like you are drunk and you may not get the treatment you need.

PLEASE NOTE:  I AM NOT A PHYSICIAN.  THE INFORMATION ABOVE IS FROM MY RESEARCH ON THE TOPIC.  PLEASE SPEAK TO YOUR PHYSICIAN REGARDING ALCOHOL TO SEE IF THEY CONCUR WITH MY RESEARCH.

There are more complications but we can save those for another day.  I am happy to be back writing to you all and I will promise to be more consistent.

Thanks for reading!