What You Need to Know About Type 1 Diabetes and Alcohol JDRF


In this article, we review recent studies on the association between alcohol consumption and the incidence of diabetes and suggested underlying mechanisms that is focused on insulin resistance. Furthermore, this review describes the appetite regulating peptides, particularly ghrelin and leptin, along with the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) that have been proposed as the basis for promising new therapies for diabetes. Consistently high glucose levels lead to blood vessel damage, interrupting blood supply to the nervous system, resulting in nerve damage.

For many people, having a drink or two is part of their daily routine. An hour at a pub or a game night with friends usually means having a few drinks. But, for people with diabetes, drinking alcohol is a bit more complicated. Not to mention the confusion caused by there being two types of diabetes. For people with diabetes, drinking alcohol can cause low or high blood sugar, affect diabetes medicines, and cause other possible problems. Consequently, glucose levels build up in your blood (hyperglycemia), causing damage to your cardiovascular system and preventing cells from being able to function normally.

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Insulin helps every cell in your body obtain energy in the form of glucose. Without insulin, glucose accumulates in the blood and cannot get into cells. If hyperglycemia (high blood glucose) is not treated, it can cause organ damage and even death. While the occasional drink with dinner is generally harmless for a diabetic, excessive alcohol consumption can be dangerous.

Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, with current statistics outnumbering rates for AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, homicide, suicide, drug use, and fires combined. Smokers with type 2 diabetes are urged to quit smoking or using other tobacco products immediately and can expect to notice the health benefits of quitting immediately. Research has shown that insulin can start to become more effective at lowering blood glucose as early as eight weeks after smoking cessation. DM is a syndrome of disordered metabolism with abnormally high blood glucose levels, as a result of abnormal insulin secretion and/or signaling (hyperglycemia) [17]. Hypoglycemia shows abnormally low levels of glucose in the blood, which interfere with the function of organ system. The two most common forms of DM are type 1 (T1DM) and type 2 diabetes, with T1DM accounting for approximately 10% of all cases in Caucasians [18].

Diabetes and alcohol

If someone with diabetes chooses to drink alcohol, the ADA recommends limiting consumption to a moderate intake. This translates to one drink per day for females and up to two per day for males. A 2015 meta-analysis reviewed 38 cohort studies to determine whether alcohol is a risk factor for diabetes. It found moderate consumption appeared to offer some protection against the condition in women and Asian populations, while heavy consumption raised the risk in almost all groups. Consequently, BDNF have an important physiological function in alcohol metabolism, as well as roles in glucose metabolism and insulin resistance. Alcohol dependent subjects were found to have decreased plasma BDNF levels and impaired insulin resistance, which is a major pathogenic feature of T2DM.

can alcoholism cause diabetes

Although quitting alcohol does not reverse diabetes, it does help – a lot. The best way to manage your diabetes is to follow a proper diet and exercise regularly. Sometimes, people who can manage their diabetes with diet and exercise alone can come off their medications, which is a big relief on the liver. With all the focus on carbs, it’s easy to forget that alcohol also has calories. Given that drinking can make you lose track of what you’re eating, calories (and pounds) can add up quickly. Being tipsy has another downside, making it easy to mix up your medications or to forget to take them entirely.

Guidelines for diabetics when drinking alcohol

Several findings concerning the involvement of chronic, heavy alcohol consumption in glucose metabolism is negatively correlated with that of insulin concentrations, in addition to the fasting insulin levels. It has been reported that chronic high doses of alcohol alone have been exhibited to be efficient in producing reversible insulin resistance [12]. High concentrations of ethanol may lead to reduced insulin binding [13] and inhibition of intracellular signalling related to that of insulin [14]. Moreover, alcohol dependence was one of the concomitant factors in subjects with impaired glucose tolerance that are diagnosed with performing standard 75 g oral glucose tolerance test. This suggests that alcohol might impair fasting and postprandial glycemic controls and thus, alcohol consumption may be a risk factor for T2DM [15]. Extensive studies using animal models of chronic alcohol intake have provided insight into the possible mechanisms, which contributes to the development of diabetes.

Your body processes alcohol differently than most foods and beverages. And if you have type 2 diabetes, drinking alcohol may have some benefits—such as lowering glucose levels in the blood—and some real risks, like driving glucose levels down too low. It is important to drink plenty of water or non-alcoholic beverages and avoid heavy alcohol consumption. Stay hydrated to help prevent your blood sugar levels from dropping too low. Drinking too much alcohol also affects insulin levels in the long term, which may cause you to develop insulin resistance. This means that insulin loses its ability to lower blood glucose levels effectively, leading to high blood sugar levels over time.

Study population

If you have diabetes, alcohol can put extra stress on your liver, which could lead to a buildup of fat in your liver (hepatitis) or inflammation of your liver (cirrhosis). If you already have damage to your liver, drinking alcohol increases risk factors. Once alcohol has been processed by the body, the elevated sugar levels and the effects of alcohol on the pancreas cause insulin levels to increase, lowering blood sugar. At the same time, alcohol prevents the liver from releasing sugar normally and keeping blood sugar at regular levels. This combination causes a drop in blood sugar after alcohol has been metabolized.

  • Having diabetes means that in addition to consuming responsibly, you will also need to understand the effect of alcohol on blood sugar and keep an eye on it while drinking.
  • It is also harmful to those with long-term problems with diabetes.
  • Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Stopping alcohol use can improve a person’s weight and sensitivity to insulin. These studies are somewhat controversial, as many argue that other ingredients of wine — not the alcohol — actually cause this benefit. While wine could help reduce the risk of developing diabetes, it is not best to use alcohol if you have diabetes. There are some who believe that red wine can help improve diabetes symptoms. This incorrect assumption arises from some studies that indicate that moderate use of wine decreases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In addition, smokers have a harder time with insulin dosing and disease management regardless of type of diabetes.

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Mark’s key responsibilities include handling day-to-day maintenance matters and oversees our Environment of Care management plan in conjunction with Joint Commission and DCF regulations. Mark’s goal is to provide a safe environment where distractions are minimized, and treatment is the primary focus for clients and staff alike. Mark sober house received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, with a minor in Economics from the University of Rhode Island. He is a licensed residential home inspector in the state of Florida and relates his unique experience of analyzing a property and/or housing condition to determining any necessary course of action at our facility.

  • So it will focus on dealing with alcohol first rather than converting glycogen to glucose.
  • This might indicate that BDNF may be linked to the pathophysiology of T2DM after alcohol use.
  • Alcohol intake reduces cognitive function, resulting in slow pupil movement and, gradually, weaker eye muscles.
  • Even if you only rarely drink alcohol, talk with your healthcare provider about it so that he or she knows which medications are best for you.
  • Consistently high glucose levels lead to blood vessel damage, interrupting blood supply to the nervous system, resulting in nerve damage.