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Alcohol Can Make Some Diabetic Problems Worse
Some people who have diabetes can safely drink moderate amounts of alcohol, but for others any amount of alcohol intake can have very negative health consequences.
There are some circumstances under which diabetics should not drink alcohol in any amount. The key for those with diabetes is to understand what conditions can be worsen if they consume alcohol.
Alcohol can damage nerve cells; even light drinking can cause nerve damage. For diabetics with nerve damage drinking can increase the pain, numbness, tingling or burning sensation associated with diabetic nerve damage.
For diabetics with eye disease symptoms, heavy drinking can make the condition worse and heavy drinking is defined as three or more drinks during one day.
Diabetics who also have high blood pressure should also not drink alcohol.
Alcohol can also increase the amount of triglycerides in the blood. Even very light drinking, defined as two drinks a week, can increase triglyceride levels. Diabetics who have high triglycerides should not drink alcohol at all.
The liver treats alcohol as a toxin and works to rid the body of alcohol as quickly as possible. The liver will not produce glucose again until the alcohol has been processed and cleared from the body.
The American Diabetes Association recommends that diabetics never drink on an empty stomach in order to protect themselves from low blood sugar -- drinking only after a meal or a snack.
The association also recommends that diabetics who have had something to drink check their blood sugar before going to sleep. And "eat a snack before you retire to avoid a low blood sugar reaction while you sleep."
Because exercise can also decrease blood sugar levels -- because the liver takes glucose from the blood and sends it to the muscles -- drinking immediately following exercise is not recommended.
For diabetics trying to control weight gain, drinking alcohol is not a wise choice. Alcohol quickly adds calories to the diet without adding any nutritional value. Even two light beers can add 200 calories.
For type 2 diabetics, who control their diabetes with diet and exercise, rather than medication, drinking alcohol is less of a risk factor for low blood sugar.
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