Alcohol contains calories. That's the bottom line about alcoholic beverages for people with diabetes. The calories must be factored into your daily meal plan. In addition, if you take insulin, alcohol can increase its effects. This can lead to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). It is important to monitor your blood glucose closely if you drink alcohol.
For most people with diabetes, there probably isn't a large risk from drinking in moderate amounts. This means an average of no more than one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men. One "drink" is equal to:
- 1.5 ounces of distilled liquor (for example, rum, gin, vodka or whiskey)
- 4 ounces of wine, or
- 12 ounces of beer
Several studies have found lower than average rates of heart attacks and heart failure among moderate drinkers. This link has been seen only in observational studies. In this type of study, researchers see if people who act a certain way have higher or lower rates of diseases. But other reasons could explain the pattern observed — in this case, lower rates of heart disease. Therefore, there's no actual proof that moderate drinking can help the heart.
Drinking alcohol also can cause problems for other organs. Diabetic neuropathy, in particular, may be worsened by alcohol.
Some people should not drink at all:
- Pregnant women
- People with liver disease
- Anyone with an addiction problem
Drinking alcohol can be a problem for you if it ever causes you to neglect your blood sugar testing or to miss your medicine. If this happens, talk to your doctor.