Beer and Diabetes: Can I Still Drink Beer?
Often, when people are diagnosed with diabetes, their healthcare provider lists a couple of food items to be avoided, especially carbs, snacks, sweetened beverages, etc. For beer lovers, the question is whether they can continue enjoying their favorite drink. Beer happens to be one of the most consumed drinks globally. However, how do beer and other alcoholic beverages affect the health of people with diabetes?
Drinking beer or any other alcoholic drink may be tricky for people with diabetes. It all depends on the kind of beer and the effect alcohol has on your blood sugar levels. There are different beer styles, each with distinct characters - the alcohol by volume, carb and calorie content, etc.
However, alcohol consumption is a major concern to the general public, as many health risks are associated with drinking alcoholic beverages. Also, we could attribute some benefits to drinking beer and other alcoholic beverages to healthy individuals and those with diabetes.
Generally, the risks and dangers when you drink beer are associated with excessive consumption. Occasional drinking of alcohol is beneficial. However, when you have a metabolic disorder like diabetes, you may find it challenging to know the right time to drink. You can never tell how it will affect your blood sugar and insulin production.
- Protein 0.24 g
- Carbohydrate 1.64 g
- Fat 0 g
- Fiber 0 g
- Sugar 0.09 g
- Cholesterol 0 g
Benefits of Drinking Alcohol
Alcohol consumption provides some of the following health benefits.
May Reduce the Risk of Various Heart-Related Diseases
Reports suggest that moderate drinkers have a reduced risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Some studies indicate that light drinkers have a lesser chance of incident heart diseases, like heart attack and coronary artery disease. However, the reverse is the case regarding ardent drinkers.
May Reduce the Risk of Diabetes
Intake of alcoholic beverages like cocktails may assist blood glucose regulation and promote insulin sensitivity. Daily intake of alcoholic drinks, not more than two, may result in lowered glycohemoglobin. However, excessive consumption may do the exact opposite, increasing the risks of getting diabetes - higher blood sugar and A1C.
The benefits of drinking alcohol are associated with moderate alcohol consumption. There's virtually no benefit to excessive consumption. Alcohol and beer risks by far supersede any benefit for ardent drinkers. Besides getting drunk and losing control, they pose a severe threat to internal organs.
Guess what? Even light drinkers have an increased risk of getting some cancers. So when managing a disorder like diabetes, you may want to consider a couple of factors before deciding to continue your drinking habit.
Eating a healthy balanced diet, exercising, and engaging in physical activities appear to have provided more significant benefits against metabolic disorders such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
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What Do I Stand to Gain From Drinking Beer?
Besides the general benefits of consuming alcohol earlier discussed, here are some of the benefits of drinking beer.
Protection for Heart
Cardiovascular disease is often associated with diabetes, so it is good to take food and drugs that may protect the heart when treating this disorder. Generally, some reports suggest that drinking any alcoholic beverage, including beer, reduces the risks of developing heart-related diseases.
Prevent Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Drinking beer and other alcoholic beverages may indeed affect internal organs, like kidneys and liver. However, a study suggests moderate beer consumption may protect against kidney diseases, especially kidney disease. Some studies even suggest that it can reduce the risk of this disease by up to 41 percent.
Some other studies suggest that drinking alcohol can improve digestion and reduce the risk of H.pylori infection in the stomach. Hops in beer may contain some beneficial phytocompounds responsible for some of these benefits.
Improves Cholesterol Levels
High lipid levels are associated with obesity and other metabolic diseases, including diabetes. Studies suggest that intake of alcohol in moderation may increase the levels of good cholesterols (HDL) in the body.
You may not know that beer is one of the most nutritious alcoholic beverages. People often talk of the many antioxidants present in wine, but do you know that beer also contains many of these compounds.
Barleys and hops, two of the primary ingredients in all beer styles, are rich in flavonoids with antioxidant properties. Beer also contains some essential minerals like calcium, iron, and phosphates. Proteins and dietary fibers are also present in decent amounts.
What is Beer's Glycemic Index?
The glycemic index of food or drink measures 0 to 100 of how the carbohydrate food is likely to increase blood sugar levels. Beer is made from cereal grains, especially barley, which contain carbs. Though, it is one of the grains with fewer carbohydrates. That said, how does this relate to the glycemic index of beer?
In determining the glycemic index of foods, test subjects have to fast overnight. During the test period, they consume about 50 grams of carbs in a short time, say 15 minutes.
But you see, most alcoholic beverages, including beer, contain little carbohydrates. Typical beer includes 3 to 12 grams of carbs. So, to reach the 50 grams mark, test subjects will have to consume about five bottles of beer on an empty stomach, which is obviously not a good idea. This makes the determination of beer's glycemic index challenging.
The difficulty that comes with determining the GI of beers makes it difficult to tell exactly how it affects the blood sugar levels. Often, the value of beer GI you see is just an estimate. Many say it is even way above 100. But since, we know that all alcoholic beverages pose a risk when overly consumed. Therefore, it's a no-brainer when doctors tell diabetic patients to cut off or reduce their intake of alcohol.
Is it safe to Drink Alcohol with Diabetes?
First, let's start by saying people with diabetes don't necessarily need to cut off beer or alcohol from their diet. After all, we just listed some of its benefits, which may be helpful to this metabolic condition. Also, we mentioned that there are studies that suggest that light drinking - drinking in moderation, may be beneficial for people with prediabetes.
However, it is essential to note other factors attributed to beer intake in people with diabetes. Also, if you already have other underlying conditions, you should avoid drinking beer. Let's look at some of the relationships between beer and diabetes.
Alcohol and Hypoglycemia
Besides the glucose obtained from foods, the liver produces glucose in the body, especially during fasting or when there are relatively low blood sugar levels.
That said, the same liver is responsible for breaking down alcohol. So the alcohol you consume may compete with the liver's glucose production. People with diabetes often take insulin or other diabetes medications that reduce their blood glucose levels. Therefore, intake of alcohol can dangerously low blood sugar, resulting in hypoglycemia, which may be detrimental if not quickly addressed.
Consequently, diabetic patients mustn't drink on an empty stomach - ensure you have eaten or eating as you are drinking alcohol. Also, endeavor to keep track of your blood sugar levels when and after drinking.
Ultimately, whatever activity you engage in as a person with diabetes, it is essential to keep track of your blood sugar level. You can never tell how your body reacts to the food or drink you consume, especially when making dietary adjustments.
How Does Alcohol Improve Blood Sugar?
Essentially, moderate consumption of beer affects some mechanisms in the body which are beneficial against diabetes. Let's take a brief look at these mechanisms.
Increased Levels of Adiponectin
Studies suggest that alcohol consumption may increase adiponectin. It is a hormone found in fatty tissues that assist in improving insulin responses and reducing inflammation. Reduced levels of adiponectin are linked with the incidence of type 2 diabetes.
Inflammation in the body is one of the factors leading to diabetes. Alcohol may reduce some inflammatory markers like C-reactive proteins.
Alcohol consumption is also associated with reducing fasting sugar and glycemic hemoglobin levels, which all points to a reduced risk of diabetes. Again, these benefits are only possible when you do not excessively consume alcohol.
How Much Beer Can I Consume?
Generally, excessive drinking is not healthy for anybody, including healthy individuals. One drink or two is enough. Women ought to even drink less - not more than a bottle. Binge drinking - taking up to four or five bottles is unhealthy and should be discouraged. Besides health risks, alcohol consumption also causes safety concerns - as you tend to lose control.
Diabetes patients, too, should follow this general rule of light drinking - not more than two bottles are enough. Even when you want to consume more, you shouldn't take more than a bottle per hour which should not go past three in women and four in men through 24 hours. Also, it is essential to drink lots of water to remain hydrated.
What Kinds of Beer Should I Drink?
We mentioned earlier that different beer styles might affect blood sugar levels differently. Beers can be classified based on the number of carbs and calories in them. Compared to other alcoholic drinks, like liquor or wine, beer contains more carbs. So, which kind of beer should a person with diabetes consume?
For one with diabetes who still wants to enjoy their favorite beverage - beer, it is best to stick to light beers, such as lagers. Light beers have low calories and carbs - usually less than 5 grams per bottle. These beer styles also contain less alcohol. Excellent examples of such beers include; Miller Lite and Coors Light.
People with diabetes should try to avoid hoppy and boozy beers. Strong beers like IPAs and stouts, for example, may contain more than 15 grams of carbs per serving. They also tend to have more alcohol and calories, which may negatively affect blood sugar levels.
How to Drink Alcohol with Diabetes?
Below are guidelines people with diabetes should follow when consuming alcohol.
Maintain light drinking. Do not drink more than two bottles of drink in a day. And by a bottle, we refer to the 12-ounce beer bottle.
Do not drink on an empty stomach. Ensure to drink with food to help avoid cases of hypoglycemia.
Stick with light beers. Avoid IPAs, stouts, and other strong beers.
Practice pace drinking. Drink slowly - this helps you monitor the number of drinks you've had and helps you drink less.
Do not mix beer or any alcoholic drink with other sugar-flavored beverages.
Drink lots of water.
Try to keep track of your blood sugar levels; you can use a diabetes management app.
Drinking beer and other alcoholic beverages is tricky regarding metabolic disorders like diabetes. However, following the necessary guidelines can help avert the dangers and risks that come with drinking.
When diagnosed with diabetes, it is essential to work with a registered dietitian to know what best works for you. There is no unique dietary plan that guarantees the best control of diabetes. Every human body is unique in its way. Also, ensure to engage in regular exercise.
We suggested that you monitor your blood sugar levels when you drink beer. The best way to do so is to use suitable diabetes management apps like Klinio. This app helps you keep track of your blood sugar levels, among other features, such as providing you with a customized meal plan.
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