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Diabetes Diet - Alcohol and Diabetes -

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Alcohol and Diabetes

The effects of alcohol on blood glucose

By Nina Nazor

If you have diabetes, alcohol can cause hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia, it all depends on the amount of alcohol, if the drink you have contains added sugar, sodas, syrups or fruit juices and if you have a meal with your drink.

Alcohol is a toxic substance, so when we drink, our liver tries to get rid of that alcohol. The liver stores about one pound of glucose in the form of a molecule called glycogen, which we may use as fuel in case of an emergency. So, if we drink and the liver is busy getting rid of that alcohol, we might need more glucose released from the store in the liver, but this wonderful organ could not be able to provide us with glucose in case of a low.

On the other hand, the signs of being drunk like dizziness, confusion, or fainting, are similar to those of hypoglycemia. This can cause that the people around you might think you drank too much and not give you the treatment you need for the low, which could put you in danger.

Be careful with medications

Also, alcohol can interfere with the effect of some medications. You should always ask your physician about alcohol and your medications.

There is one type of diabetes pills called chlorpropamide, which can react with alcohol causing the "antabuse effect". In this case, the person might feel a headache and the skin of his or her face can turn red. It is not dangerous, but is frightening and uncomfortable.

How much can you drink safely?

The American Diabetes Association recommends that men should not drink more than two glasses of wine or shots of liquor a day, and women no more than one. Pregnant women should never drink alcohol and also people with pancreatitis, high triglycerides or some other medical problems.

The amounts considered one drink are the following. Each provides 15 grams of alcohol.

One drink is equivalent to:

·  One 12 ounce (360 ml) glass of beer

·  5 ounces (150 ml) of wine or

·  1.5 ounces (45 ml) of liquor such as vodka, whisky, gin, tequila, and brandy, among others.

What to do before having a drink?

·  Get your doctors approval.

·  Limit to only one drink a day for women or two for men.

·  Have a meal with the drink to avoid hypoglycemia.

·  Ask if the drink you're having contains additional sugar and use diet drinks or mineral water as mixers.

Finally, excessive alcohol consumption is a serious problem that affects many people, including people with diabetes. If you abuse alcohol you increase your risk of developing complications like sexual dysfunction and loss of sensation in your feet. If you have a drinking problem, seek professional help and contact Alcoholics Anonymous before your health is at risk.