The Diabetic Diet: Alcohol

by Dr. Julian Whitaker
Filed Under: Diabetes, Blood Sugar
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Moderate consumption of alcohol can be okay for some people with diabetes

A common dietary question I hear from patients with diabetes is, “Can I drink alcohol?” The answer is, sometimes.

Because alcoholic drinks contain a fair amount of calories derived from sugars, conventional wisdom has long held that people with diabetes should avoid alcohol. We now know that rather than worsening diabetes, judicious use of alcohol actually improves it by enhancing insulin sensitivity. Moderate amounts of alcohol improve the cells’ ability to respond to insulin, resulting in lower blood levels of both glucose and insulin.

For most people, however, alcohol consumption can be a double-edged sword—that's why drinking in moderation is your best bet. Too much alcohol can lead to serious health conditions, including liver disease. And if you’re obese, you definitely need to go easy on alcohol—the combination of excess alcohol and obesity is especially damaging to the liver.

More Dr. Whitaker Advice on Diabetes

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