Diabetes and Alcohol | HealthiNation

Uploaded by HealthiNation on 07.09.2012

Welcome to HealthiNation. I’m nutritionist Amy Hendel. If you’re one of the nearly
26 million Americans with diabetes, you should know that having diabetes doesn’t mean you
have to stop enjoying life—which for many includes an occasional drink. But just like
anyone who decides to drink alcohol, you need to know your own body, and have responsible
strategies for different situations. In this video, you’ll learn how to enjoy an alcoholic
drink now and then while keeping your diabetes under control.
A lot of people have trouble making smart choices when it comes to drinking. Add diabetes
into the mix, and alcohol can be even more difficult to handle.
One reason is because diabetes itself can stress the liver and pancreas. Alcohol further
stresses these organs when it’s in the body. Here’s why: When you drink alcohol, your
liver has to work hard to remove it from the bloodstream. That extra activity takes it
away from one of its “main” jobs, -- regulating blood sugar. Have you ever felt “fuzzy”
while drinking? That happens when alcohol in the bloodstream isn’t metabolized right
away by the liver and travels to - and affects - other parts of the body - like the brain.
Heavy alcohol use can also inflame the pancreas, something that someone with diabetes wants
to especially avoid. This condition, called pancreatitis, can actually do enough damage
to the pancreas over time that it can cause type 2 diabetes!
Drinking alcohol can also make it especially difficult to maintain correct glucose levels.
So, only drink when your glucose level is already under control. If it is, and there
are no other reasons to avoid alcohol – like possible interactions with any medication
- drinking in moderation is probably fine.
Here’s what I tell my patients: Check with your doctor first -- because alcohol can worsen
some diabetes complications. If you get the “ok”, follow these guidelines.
Moderate drinking only. That means no more than one drink a day for women and two drinks
a day for men under age 65. Men over 65, keep it to one drink a day. That’s because alcohol
sensitivity increases as we age. A drink is equal to: 12 ounces of regular beer [150 calories],
5 ounces of wine [100 calories], or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits like whiskey,
vodka or gin [100 calories]. If you drink alcohol several times a week, let your doctor
know because drinking regularly, even in small amounts, can affect any prescriptions you
might be taking.
ALWAYS drink alcohol with food… never on an empty stomach. Although alcohol itself
has virtually no carbs, remember to consider what’s “around” that alcohol - like
mixers, syrups, and add-ins. And watch out for beer, some have plenty of carbs. These
also need to be part of your daily count. Choose options that are lighter on carbs and
calories, such as light beer, dry wines, and wine spritzers or mixed drinks that use only
sugar-free mixers - like diet sodas, tonics, or seltzers.
Sip the drink to “make it last”, and drink plenty of no calorie, alcohol-free beverages
before and after. Water is always a good choice.
Always carry a source of sugar with you in case you need a fast glucose boost.
This may seem counter-intuitive, but don’t exercise before drinking. Physical exercise
can lead to low blood sugar and so will alcohol, so if you mix the two, your levels might get
dangerously low.
Check your levels before, during and after drinking so you can make adjustments as needed.
Also check - and manage - blood sugar levels before going to sleep. It takes about two
hours for a single ounce of alcohol to be metabolized and leave your system. So drinking
continues to have an impact on your blood sugar levels long after you've “called it
a night”. ??
Be aware that some symptoms of drinking too much can be confused with low blood sugar….like
sluggishness, confusion, sleepiness, disorientation, dizziness, and slurred speech.
Wear a medical ID bracelet and, let friends know about your diabetes and how they can
help if necessary.
Be informed and use common sense. Watching this video is a great start. “Cheers”
to you, and thanks for being part of HealthiNation.