People with diabetes are accustomed to monitoring their food choices and portions. However, they often overlook some critical areas of their disease.
One of these is alcohol consumption.
The common way of thinking is that unless the individual is an alcoholic, drinking beer isn't going to have a negative impact on their disease. But is that really true about diabetes and beer?
Can even one beer alter blood glucose levels?
The short answer is yes. Alcohol can lower glucose levels, whether you have one beer or 10.
This can be dangerous for individuals who are taking insulin, since combining insulin with beer can create a hypoglycemic episode. Social drinking can be even more dangerous because it's easier to lose sight of how much alcohol you are consuming until your blood sugar drops too low.
Some may argue that only drinking a few beers isn't going to cause enough damage to warrant concern. In reality, anytime blood sugar levels get too high or too low, your body will be impacted.
Nevertheless, you don't have to give up drinking entirely. Here are four tips on how to drink responsibly.
1. Eat while you drink
Remember: alcohol remains in your system longer than glucose from food, so you should only consume beer with food. Drinking beer with a meal helps slow the rate of alcohol absorption and offers some protection against sugar spikes or dips.
2. Try a light beer, but be aware
Light beer or brands that are low carb can help a little, but they don't entirely solve the problem. Beer is loaded with sugar, so remember that you need to treat it like a sugar-laden dessert.
Check out this table of popular beers and their alcohol and carb content to help you plan ahead.
3. Know your meds
Those who use insulin aren't the only ones who need to be aware of their beer consumption. Those who take diabetes medications should also closely monitor their intake. Some diabetes medicines have their own side effects—such as rapid heart rate—and some drugs may even alter glucose levels.
One common medication, metformin, should never be mixed with beer due to the potential side effects.
4. Moderation is key
If you still want to enjoy an occasional beer, follow the same rule that applies to foods—moderation. Having a beer is fine, but having a low-calorie beer with low carbs, with food, is even better.
If you plan to go out drinking with friends, make sure they are aware of your condition and what they should do in case you start to feel an unpleasant impact.
Do you have any safe beer-drinking tips for the community? Share in the comments below.