Alcohol and Diabetes: Are You at Risk?

In the United States, over 30 million people have diabetes. Another 84 million are prediabetic—meaning, their blood glucose levels are higher than normal—and over 90 percent of those are unaware of their condition.

When alcohol is brought into the picture, diabetes can be deadly. As Ria Health’s chief medical officer, John E. Mendelson, MD, notes, “Alcohol in moderation is not thought to affect diabetes directly. But heavy drinking—more than the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends—is a real problem, both with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. In addition, excess alcohol can adversely affect diabetic control and complications.”

For those with diabetes or prediabetes, controlling blood sugar levels is crucial. Dr. Mendelson adds, “In the short term, alcohol can worsen blood sugar control. In the long term, it can worsen diabetes nerve damage. Further, if you get liver damage from excess alcohol, controlling your blood sugar can get much worse. You can have severe high blood sugar, or in rare cases, extremely low blood sugar.”

Plus, drinking a lot of alcohol—aside from the alcohol itself—can weaken the person’s natural safeguards against eating or drinking further. People who are drinking a lot are often not aware of how much they have consumed. This is especially dangerous for diabetics or prediabetics, who have to carefully watch their food and drink intake.

Finally, weight is a crucial part of this equation. Being overweight is not healthy, but especially so for those inclined to develop diabetes. For those with prediabetes, losing weight is one of the best safeguards against developing the full-blown disease. And one of the easiest, most effective ways to shed pounds is to cut down on alcohol.

Those already diagnosed with diabetes are likely aware of precautions needed. But for millions of others who are prediabetic, there is time to act—to reduce alcohol before diabetes develops.

If you have tried cutting back on alcohol and failed, remember: the problem is likely not you, but the method. If you’re drinking six or eight glasses of wine a day (more than a bottle), we can help you cut that in half. And the even better news: with our method, you may eventually not have the urge to drink at all.

Cutting down on alcohol doesn’t have to be an “all or nothing” proposition. For many people, abstinence doesn’t work. For others, removing alcohol gradually is a better approach. At Ria, we understand, and we listen to you. Everyone is different, and we want to help you reach your goals.

Resources:

Diabetes and Alcohol (University of California, San Francisco)

Diabetes & Alcohol

Diabetes Quick Facts (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/quick-facts.html

Diabetes Overview (Mayo Clinic)
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20371444

Effects of Alcohol on Diabetes (The Diabetes Council)

Effects of Alcohol on Diabetes

Prediabetes: How to Prevent Prediabetes from Becoming Type 2 Diabetes (EndocrineWeb)
https://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/pre-diabetes/pre-diabetes

Consequences of Alcohol Use in Diabetics (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism)
https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh22-3/211.pdf

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