Type 2 diabetes is a common condition which causes the level of sugar in the blood to become too high.
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It’s dangerous because if not controlled properly it can lead to serious problems with the eyes, heart and nerves.
If you have diabetes, you may have to make changes to your diet to keep the condition under control, such as ensuring you don’t eat too much sugar and fat.
So, is it safe to drink alcohol? According to Diabetes UK, sufferers of the condition can still drink, but there are certain things you should be aware of.
“For some people, having a few drinks at home or in the pub is part of everyday life. And having diabetes shouldn’t get in the way of this,” said Diabetes UK.
“But when you have diabetes, it’s a bit more complicated.”
Firstly, drinking alcohol makes the blood sugar level drop, which can lead to hypoglycaemia in diabetic people who take medication to keep their blood sugar level low.
Hypoglycaemia, or a hypo, is when the level of sugar in the blood is too low.
If you drink a lot or on an empty stomach, you’re even more likely to have a hypo.
“Your liver works twice as hard when you drink, because it’s trying to keep your blood sugar steady and at the same time trying to get rid of the alcohol. It just can’t keep up,” said Diabetes UK.
“So your blood sugar might drop and stay low until your liver has dealt with the alcohol. That’s why you might crave carbs and wake up the next morning with a headache.”
The charity also warns on mistaking having a hypo with being drunk, so you should always carry hypo treatments with you, wear medical ID and ensure whoever you’re with knows you have diabetes.
Secondly, alcohol can have a lot of calories in it, leading to weight gain. Being overweight is another risk factor for people with diabetes.
If you are going to drink, there are certain alcoholic beverages you should try to avoid, such as low-sugar beer and cider.
Low-sugar beer and cider are sometimes called ‘diabetic drinks’. However, while they may contain less sugar, they also contain more alcohol.
On the other hand, low-alcohol wine should also be avoided, as it often contains more sugar than normal.
The same goes for drinks with lots of sugar, such as sweet sherry, sweet wine and liqueur.
If you drink spirits, you should ensure you have it with diet or sugar-free mixers.
Some drinks like beer, ale and cider contain carbohydrates and will increase blood sugar levels.
Spirits, dry wine and Prosecco, therefore, may be a better bet.
The morning after the night before, ensuring you eat breakfast will help to manage blood sugar, while drinking lots of water to keep hydrated will also help.
“If you’ve got a blood sugar meter at home, check your levels regularly the next day. The symptoms of having a hypo are similar to feelings of a hangover, so you need to know if you’re having one,” warned Diabetes UK.
The UK government advises drinking no more than 14 units of alcohol per week, which equates to six medium glasses of wine or six pints of lager.