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There is no need for people with diabetes to give up alcohol simply because of their diabetes.

Although alcohol does have an effect on blood sugar levels, with a few precautions and careful management, people with diabetes can also enjoy a drink.

There are also alcohol substitutes for those who abstain.

Alcohol can have a confusing effect on blood sugar levels because it prevents the liver from producing glucose. One consequence of this is that hypoglycemia can occur after a night of drinking.

As a result, people with diabetes are often advised to eat something to compensate for the expected drop in blood sugar levels. Alcohol does affect different people in different ways so, if in doubt, test your blood glucose to see how alcohol affects you.

Some people may find it all too easy to let diabetes drift out of their mind when having alcohol and not worry too much about sugar levels.

However, it is advisable to test blood sugar levels whenever possible to get an idea of how different drinks affect your sugar levels.

Beers

Regular lagers tend to typically vary in carbohydrate content from about 10 to 15g per pint.

Some ‘light’ beers may be better and have less than 10g of carbs per pint and some with less 5g of carbs.

Pilsners are thought to have a relatively benign effect on blood sugar, however, just as with any drink amongst this list, it’s best if you can test to be sure what effect they’re having on your blood glucose levels.

Stouts, Porters and Guinness tend to be on the higher end of the carbohydrate spectrum amongst beers and can have upwards of 20g of carbohydrate per pint.

There are a wide variety of real ales covering pale ales through to porters. Real ales will typically have a carbohydrate content of 10 to 20g of carbs per pint.

Certain real ales may be given additional flavouring with extra sugar or honey so be prepared for the effect to vary with different beers.

Wines, fortified wines and champagnes

Red wine generally receives good press thanks to the certain chemical properties (polyphenol and resveratrol compounds) it contains.

As you’d expect, dry wines and champagnes will have a lower carbohydrate level than sweeter wines and champagnes.

A dry wine can have as low as 1-2g of carbohydrate in a modest sized glass (200ml) whereas a particularly sweet wine could have over 10g of carbs.

A medium sweetness wine is likely to have 5 to 10g of carbs per standard glass.

Fortified wines such as sherry and port tend to be sweeter than table wine. A glass of port could contain as much as 20g of carbs.

 

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