Leo Medrano

Q:

Does beer affect your glucose?

Amy Campbell

A:

The short answer to your question is: it depends. Most people with diabetes (type 1 or type 2) can safely drink alcohol, but it’s helpful to understand how alcohol can affect blood glucose. When you drink alcohol, whether it is a beer, a glass of wine or a shot of hard liquor, your liver kicks into gear to detoxify the alcohol. But because it’s busy dealing with alcohol, it stops releasing glucose into the bloodstream. This is a concern for people with diabetes who take insulin or certain types of diabetes pills because, if they drink when they haven’t eaten in a while, the result may be a low blood glucose (called hypoglycemia). Low blood glucose is unlikely to occur in people who manage their diabetes with a meal plan and exercise, or who take other types of pills, like metformin, for example. Beer contains a small amount of carbohydrate, but because it contains alcohol, there’s a chance that low blood glucose could result in people who are at risk. However, drinking one beer or one serving of another type of alcohol is unlikely to lead to low blood glucose. If you do take insulin or pills called sulfonylureas, it’s a good idea to eat something that contains carbohydrate if you drink alcohol. And the guidelines for alcohol are no more than two drinks per day for men, and no more than one drink per day for women. Keep in mind, too, if your goal is to lose weight, that beer and alcohol contain calories.

December 28, 2011 at 12:08 am