Can Alcohol Cause Diabetes

Can Alcohol Cause Diabetes


Another frequently asked question is the one of ‘can alcohol cause diabetes’?. In short, yes. Alcoholism can indeed cause diabetes. Individuals who consume large quantities of alcohol are at an increased risk of contracting type 2 diabetes for the following reasons:

  • · Alcohol contains a lot of calories which can cause weight gain and obesity
  • · The body’s sensitivity to insulin decreases when alcohol is present
  • · Heavy drinking can cause pancreatitis
  • · Inactivity and following an unhealthy diet

How does alcohol impact blood sugar control?

  • If you are diabetic or pre-diabetic it is imperative to keep your blood sugar levels under control. Alcohol consumption however, makes it difficult to keep these levels within the normal range for the following reasons:
  • Alcoholic beverages such as sweet wines, ciders, beer and spirit mixes are high in carbs that have the ability to spike blood glucose levels.
  • The appetite is stimulated by alcohol which may cause a person to overeat. This can lead to raised blood sugar levels
  • As most alcoholic beverages are high in calories they can significantly contribute to weight gain which, in turn, hinders the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels.

How does alcohol affect people with diabetes?

Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can be brought on by binge drinking

This refers to a condition that sees an individual’s blood glucose drop to below a healthy level. Symptoms of hypoglycemia include dizziness, trembling, sweating, bewilderment and lethargy. This can become a dangerous condition if not treated immediately as it can cause a diabetic coma. The symptoms of hypoglycemia are often mistaken for drunkennss and ignored which could prove to be deadly.

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Hyperglycemia(high blood sugar)

Alcoholic beverages with a high sugar content can send blood sugar level through the roof which can lead to very serious complications


High blood pressure often goes hand in hand with diabetes according to the American Diabetes Association. Consumption of alcohol can increase the blood pressure as well with prolonged hypertension severely straining the heart and kidneys.

Diabetic neuropathy and nerve damage

Unfortunately, many long-standing diabetics are affected by diabetic neuropathy which causes loss of sensation, pain and a burning sensation, all of which can be made worse by alcohol consumption. Even if you do not suffer from diabetes, alcohol abuse can cause nerve damage in the long run.

Cardiac Problems

High-volume alcohol consumption can increase the risk of contracting heart disease and having heart attacks due to one or more of the following:

  • · Increased blood pressure
  • · Increased fat levels in the blood
  • · Elevated heart rate
  • · Increasing body mass
  • · By negatively affecting the control of blood glucose

If you find yourself with diabetes or pre-diabetes and you are accustomed to winding down with a drink after a long day make sure to follow the following precautions:

  • One serving equates to: 5 ounces of wine/12 ounces of beer/1.5 ounces of hard liquor or spirits
  • The safe daily allowance for a diabetic patient is the same as that of a non-diabetic person – 2 drinks for a male and 1 drink for a female
  • Not all alcoholic drinks are created equally. Some drinks have a much higher calorie content than others. Beer stout contains more calories than a light ale and a vodka orange juice mix a lot more than a glass of white wine. Try to steer clear of drinks with a high calorie and carb content.
  • A single serving of alcohol is generally considered to be equal in calories as 2 servings of fat. It is essential that diabetics who follow a calorie-controlled diet adjust their meals accordingly.

Tips to reduce the risk of alcohol-related diabetic complications

  • Never consume alcohol on an empty stomach. Food decreases the rate at which alcohol is absorbed into the body. By eating before you drink you can prevent sudden drops or spikes in blood sugar levels.
  • Steer clear of sugary mixes and opt for water or sugar-free soda instead.
  • Make it a habit to pick alcoholic beverages that are low in alcohol, calories and carbs.
  • Don’t throw your calorie-restrictions out the window when you drink. Adjust your meal-plans accordingly.
  • Learn to read labels. Check the alcohol content drinks before you consume them. The same applies to mixes like soda and fruit juices.

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