Can Diabetics Drink Wine?

Drinking when you’re a diabetic is a little more complicated than the average person, not only have you got to be careful of what you’re consuming but also wary of how you feel the day after in case you have a hypo. 

So, can diabetics drink wine? 

The short answer is yes, but people with diabetes will need to be aware of the risks that drinking wine poses and how to manage these risks when they decide to drink, whether that be at home or out at a bar. 

Can Diabetics Drink Wine?

There is this misconception that people with diabetes cannot drink wine or any alcohol at all which is not true.

Whilst alcohol can affect blood sugar levels which could pose some serious risks for diabetics, they can still enjoy a drink like anyone else as long as they take precautions and they carefully manage how much and what they are drinking. 

A diabetic person should not drink wine on an empty stomach or replace any meal throughout the day with wine as this can result in more risks from low-glucose levels.

It takes nearly 1 hour 30 mins for the body to down the alcohol from one glass of wine, so until the body metabolizes all the alcohol you have drank, the low blood glucose levels continue. 

A diabetic person should also not drink or reduce their alcohol consumption as much as possible if their blood glucose is not well controlled by either medication or if they’ve had a bad reaction to alcohol in the past due to their diabetes. 

It would be best for a diabetic to eat a meal or snacks throughout the time of drinking to help absorb the wine levels in the blood and help manage their blood sugar levels.

If a diabetic person is drinking, then they should consider telling the people around them about their condition and what to do in the case of a hypo, or you could have some medical ID on you which would notify someone of your condition if someone was to go wrong.

Risks of Diabetics Drinking Wine

Diabetics who take insulin or other diabetic medication and then drink alcohol increase their chance of having a hypo because alcohol reduces the body’s ability to recover when blood glucose levels drop.

In normal circumstances, the liver would release glucose back into the blood when blood sugar is too low however alcohol prevents the liver from doing this effectively so blood glucose levels remain low. 

Common symptoms of hypo sweating, dizziness, shaking, and feeling tired amongst other symptoms and should be treated consuming glucose juice or glucose tablets to increase blood glucose levels. 

The risks of a hypo are still present up to 24 hours after you’ve stopped drinking, so regular monitoring of blood glucose levels should be carried out to ensure they’re steady.

Compared to other alcoholic drinks, wine contains lower sugar levels with both red and white wine only containing less than 1.5 grams of sugar per 5oz serving of wine whereas a vodka Redbull can contain over 25 grams of sugar per drink.

Wine is a high-calorie alcoholic drink, so diabetics should try to drink it in moderation. There are between 120-130 calories in a glass of red and white wine and drinking several glasses a week could significantly increase the chance of putting on weight.

Weight gain can also increase the chance of developing diabetes complications such as eye damage or metabolism problems.

Alcohol may stimulate the appetite which could cause a diabetic to overeat or to eat sugary foods that could trigger a hyperglycemic reaction.

However, past studies show that occasional alcohol consumption by diabetics does not significantly affect blood glucose levels, so therefore it is safe for diabetics to drink wine in moderation as long as it’s combined with a healthy diet and their current blood sugar is controlled. 

Which Wines Are Best For People With Diabetes?

Diabetics should try sticking to low calorie and low sugar wines when deciding to drink as they will help keep their sugar intake to a minimum which will reduce the chance of complications.

They should also avoid drinking sweet wines or liqueurs like sherries or dessert wines as these have high sugar contents.

A couple of small glasses of red, white, or rose wine occasionally will not harm someone with diabetes, as long as they’re monitoring their blood glucose levels throughout the occasion. 

You should avoid low-alcohol wines because these are often the ones with a lot more sugar compared to regular wines. If you are going to drink low-alcohol or alcohol-free wine then try to limit yourself to 1 or 2 glasses.

To help manage blood glucose levels when drinking, a diabetic should try to have a glass of water between every glass of wine that they have to stay hydrated and not help regulate their blood sugar.

The morning after drinking wine, a diabetic should try to drink plenty of fluids and eat a good breakfast. If they don’t feel up to eating breakfast then they should try to have a sugary drink to raise their blood sugar levels.  

Does Wine Cause Diabetes?

Several factors can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes, such as being overweight, genetics, and age.

Alcohol can contain lots of calories which can easily total or exceed your daily calorie allowance on top of what you’ve already eaten that day. Overconsumption of wine regularly can make you overweight which will then increase your chances of developing type 2 diabetes. 

Heavy drinking can also cause the body to become less sensitive to insulin which can also trigger type 2 diabetes. If you drink heavily frequently, you could have chronic pancreatitis which is where the pancreas has become permanently damaged due to inflammation and diabetes can also be a side effect of this condition.

As we’ve already discussed, heavy drinking is not advised for people who have diabetes as alcohol can severely impair your judgment and you may mistake a hypo for just being drunk

Christina Day
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