The Link between Type 2 Diabetes and Alcohol

Wine glasses and grapes

Is a Drink Good for Diabetes Patients?

Chinese researchers think that light to moderate alcohol consumption might protect against type 2 diabetes. In a recent study, researchers at Southeast University in Nanjing, China found that people who had a little alcohol every day had lower levels of a type of blood fat called triglycerides. Researchers also found lower levels of insulin and improved insulin resistance in people who drank light to moderate amounts of alcohol.

The study followed 575 volunteers with type 2 diabetes in 10 trials. Among other factors, blood sugar control, insulin levels, insulin resistance, cholesterol and triglycerides were measured. Researchers found a drop of nearly 9 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) in average triglyceride levels. They also saw decreases in insulin levels and in a measure called HOMA-IR that assesses insulin resistance. The findings suggest relieved insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes patients.

How Much to Drink?

Moderate drinking is about 20 grams of alcohol daily. That’s about 1.5 cans of beer, a large glass of wine (almost 7 ounces), or a generous shot (1.7 ounces) of distilled spirits. But before you have a drink, remember that high alcohol consumption is reported to be a risk factor for diabetes. In fact, The American Diabetes Association recommends that people who drink alcohol do so in moderation — no more than one drink per day for adult women and no more than two drinks per day for adult men. Too much alcohol can raise triglycerides and lead to serious health concerns.

Drink Wisely

It’s wise to avoid sugary mixed drinks made with juice mixers, added sugar, and syrups, especially if you have diabetes because they can add excess calories and sugar. These types of beverages can spike blood glucose levels and can cause weight gain. Watch out also for things like spiked cider and hard lemonade, which are both high in carbs and added sugars.
Mixed drinks such as margaritas and daiquiris may contain as much as 30g sugar per serving. Instead, stick to club soda or seltzer water or tonic water.

Diabetes and Alcohol

People with type 1 diabetes and anyone with type 2 who is taking insulin or other medications that can cause low blood sugar levels must be more cautious with alcohol. It can sometimes lead to dangerously low levels of blood sugar (hypoglycemia). But not all type 2 diabetes medications are a concern with alcohol. It’s OK to have a drink if you’re taking a commonly used type 2 diabetes drug called metformin.

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