Does Beer Raise Blood Sugar

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The Beer And Blood Sugar Effect

Yes, I have type 1 diabetes and I can drink beer. In fact, I'm a craft beer lover who's pretty passionate about trying new brews and supporting my local beer makers (who invent awesomeness in a mug). The fact that I'm pancreatically-challenged changes nothing about that. Over the years, I've lost count of the times I've heard folks wonder whether PWDs (people with diabetes) are able to drink anything, particularly beer. And I've been amazed to meet medical professionals who take the lazy way out and just tell patients that any drop of alcohol is off-limits. This very directive came my way early in the year, from a general practitioner who clearly didn't make the cut when I was searching for a new family physician. Obviously, I'm not a doctor. But in my 16 years of legally drinking countless beers, I would like to think I've learned a thing or two -- particularly that YES, you can and should be able to enjoy beer with diabetes if you want to, of course doing so responsibly in the context of society and your health. Until this past summer, I never thought too deeply about the specifics of beer influencing my diabetes management. Sure, I knew it raises my blood sugar in the short-term Continue reading >>

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Popular Questions

  1. projector

    Say I've had dinner and I'm at 7 (126). Let's pretend it's a perfect evening and my sugar will stay at 7 until I wake up the next morning.
    What will happen if I drink some alcohol?
    I'm confused because it seems to raise my blood sugar, but sometimes lower it later. Also different drinks seem to have different effects. Real ale and honey ales seem to raise sugar the most (that's probably unsurprising). I haven't read or observed enough to really understand what's going on, or if there are consistent, repeatable effects.
    Any observations welcome, but in the form of some practical questions:
    Does alcohol actually raise blood sugar? Or is something else going on?
    Can I carb count alcoholic drinks? Should I? How?
    Why have my diabetes educators repeatedly told me not to inject for alcoholic drinks?
    Do alcoholic drinks lower blood sugar? Why? How long does that take, i.e. how can I factor that in when thinking about my sugar levels and insulin?
    Also - is there anything else I should know?

  2. outdatedglobe

    This is what I understand of it:
    Part of the function of your liver is to release sugar into the bloodstream. This is true even in diabetics and is the reason you need insulin even if you don't eat anything. However, you liver cannot multi-task. So if it is processing alcohol, then it does not release that glucose. The issue for drinking while being diabetic is that your basal rates from your pump (or your long-lasting insulin) does not know that and still gives you insulin as if it were a "normal" night. This means a high risk of running low and, to make matters more dangerous, a glucagon pen would not work after a night of heavy drinking since a glucagon pen works by having the liver release all of that sugar at once. But, since your liver is processing alcohol, it would not respond to the glucagon pen.
    As far as alcohol raising blood sugars, no. Alcohol itself does not. But what you mix it with will as normal (if drinking soda, juice, etc) and beer does have carbs in it that would raise blood sugar. If I'm drinking a beer that has only like 6-8 carbs in it, then I will usually not give myself insulin as I've noticed that in the end it balances out. However, if I have a higher-carb beer or am drinking mixed drinks, I will absolutely give myself insulin for it. I try to just make sure I go to sleep with higher blood sugars (at least 200 or 250) to combat it going lower and make me feel a little bit less nervous about it.
    Hope that helps!

  3. projector

    Interesting. So when my blood sugar lowers, it's because there's insulin in my system anyway, but now my liver won't release glucose because it's busy processing the alcohol. And it can't multi-task.
    How long does it take to process alcohol - and when will it switch back to releasing sugar? Given an average adult male, is there a guide for how long it takes to process one unit of alcohol?

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