Beer is a cult. There are beer drinkers who prefer it over other beverages. The internet is full of quotes like “the more you weigh, the harder you are to kidnap, stay safe, drink beer”. But drinking beer has some serious repercussions on health.
Beer can cause fluctuations in sugar levels. Since beer contains sugar in the form of maltose or maltodextrin, it raises blood sugar levels. Everyone needs to be mindful of what they consume.
People with diabetes need to be extremely careful. One frequently overlooks that alcohol has calories. The danger of getting high blood sugar increases with the number of carbohydrates present in alcohol.
If you drink, do it in moderation and only when your blood sugar levels and diabetes are under control. In addition, one glass of alcohol should be accounted for as two fat exchanges if you are on a calorie-restricted meal plan.
Beer is a widely consumed alcoholic beverage all year round, but the summer seems to be its peak season. Nevertheless, a chilled glass of beer is hard to resist if you are with friends. Therefore, before you hit the bottle, here’s what experts want you to know.
Understanding Beer – More than Just a Party Drink
One of the oldest and most well-known types of alcoholic beverages in the world is beer. Around 5,000 years ago, the Middle East was where most likely the first barley-based beer was produced.
It gets made by brewing and fermenting starches primarily sourced from cereal grains, most frequently malted barley. However, other variants include wheat, maize (corn), rice, and oats. Beer goes through the brewing process by fermenting the starch sugars in the wort, producing ethanol and carbonation.
Most modern beer gets brewed with hops, which adds bitterness and other flavours. It also acts as a natural preservative and stabilising agent.
Hops can be substituted with or added to other flavourings such as gruit, herbs, or fruits. The natural carbonation effect is often eliminated during processing and replaced with forced carbonation in commercial brewing.
What are the Different Types of Beer?
Beer comes in over 100 different varieties. But to clarify, beer can either be an ale or a lager.
Lagers get fermented with bottom-fermenting yeast at temperatures between 35°F and 50°F. In contrast, ales get fermented with top-fermenting yeast between 60°F and 70°F.
Among several ales are India pale ale (IPA), Imperial IPA, stouts, New England-style IPA, and Gose, a wheat ale. Lagers include American, Mexican, Vienna, Pilsners, and Helles.
Light beer is brewed the same way as ordinary beer but has fewer calories and less alcohol than regular beer. Additionally, non-alcoholic beer has around 50% fewer calories than standard beer.
Effects of Alcohol on Diabetes
An average beer can contain 150 calories. However, due to beer’s low alcohol level, consumers frequently drink multiple glasses and nearly 600-1000 calories.
Your body does not receive any proteins, lipids, minerals, or vitamins from these empty calories. Four cans equal roughly 60 grams of carbohydrates because each comprises about 15 grams. Additionally, studies show that beer has a high GI, ranging from 89 to 110.
Research indicates alcohol enters the bloodstream after consumption and instantly reaches the brain. Additionally, alcohol affects the liver and stops it from making glucose. Therefore, your blood sugar levels drop if you consume too much alcohol. As a result, it could result in hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
People with diabetes must limit their intake of beer to the bare minimum. The best is to abstain from it. If you opt for it, pair it with a low-carb snack rather than consuming it on an empty stomach.
The best choice is low-calorie or mild beer (15 gms of carbs are present in 12 ounces of beer, whereas mild beer only has 3-6 gms), as beer’s sugar content takes longer to flush away.
Never combine fizzy drinks with alcohol to ensure that the least amount of harm gets done to the body. Drink mindfully and hydrate between drinks (beer is a diuretic that depletes electrolyte balance).
The sugar increase may, in extreme circumstances, result in high blood pressure, a partial paralytic attack, or cardiac arrest. Diabetes medications like metformin and insulin can interact badly with alcohol; these drugs lower blood sugar levels, and alcohol use can further lower them.
The HealthifyMe Note:
“Is beer good for diabetics?” or “Is beer bad for diabetics?” is one of the most commonly asked questions. Alcohol consumption can either cause your blood sugar to increase or decrease if you have diabetes. Also, a lot of calories get included in alcohol. Therefore, one with diabetes should ideally avoid alcohol.
How Much Alcohol is in Beer?
Beer’s alcoholic content can differ significantly. For instance, ordinary beer typically has 5% alcohol but can contain up to 10%. Even though it has fewer calories and alcohol than regular beer, light beer still has about 4% alcohol.
For instance, distilled spirits like gin, rum, and vodka have roughly 40% alcohol, whereas wine typically contains about 12% alcohol. While some brands of non-alcoholic beer contain 0% alcohol, others include 0.5%.
Alcohol for Diabetics – Dos and Don’ts
Diabetes patients who consume alcohol should adhere to the following rules:
- Do not drink alcohol on an empty stomach.
- For males, Never consume more than two drinks of alcohol daily. For women, do not consume more than one. The recommended amount of beer is less than 341ml (12oz) per day.
- Drink slowly.
- Avoid pairing it with “fizzy drinks” or “sugary” mixed drinks.
- Mix liquor with water, club soda, or diet soft drinks.
Consult your nutritionist about whether consuming alcohol is safe for you. Remember that alcohol might also affect how certain drugs work. Talking to your healthcare professional about your nutrition is always a good idea. If you have diabetes, you must control your blood sugar. If you need a cutting-edge technology solution for your diabetes that measures your blood sugar levels minute by minute, counts calories, and provides individualised coaching in real time, HealthifyPro is the solution.
Most people with diabetes must follow a healthy lifestyle. However, one can consume alcohol in absolute moderation, including beer. Avoid drinking beer on an empty stomach, especially if you take insulin or diabetes medications like sulfonylureas.
According to studies, it can raise your risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Moreover, when drinking beer, check your blood sugar frequently because alcohol can cause low blood sugar that lasts up to 24 hours after you stop drinking.
Beer contains calories, so it is better to limit how much you drink if you have diabetes. One needs to manage their weight for a healthy life. Always choose a light beer to cut calories.
Beer belly results from consuming too many calories from food or alcohol, which leads to other health issues like type 2 diabetes, liver disease, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What happens if a diabetic drinks beer?
A. Research shows drinking beer can result in increased blood sugar in type 2 diabetes. While in Type 1 diabetes, excessive drinking can lower blood sugar levels, occasionally to dangerously low levels.
Q. Does beer raise blood sugar?
A. The carbs in beer raise blood sugar levels. Alcohol increases appetite, which can lead to overeating. Therefore, it can impact your ability to control your blood sugar levels. In addition, beer’s carbohydrate content makes it relatively quickly absorbed into the system. It can result in higher blood glucose levels. Shortly after ingesting alcohol, increased blood sugar levels are observed.
Q. Can Type 2 diabetics drink beer?
A. Patients with type 2 diabetes can consume beer in moderation (341ml/12oz). However, the high-calorie content of alcoholic beverages also impacts your weight, so it’s better to consume it in the recommended allowance only once every month or once every 15 days..
Q. When I drink beer, my blood pressure goes down.
A. The amount of calcium that binds to blood arteries increases when alcohol gets consumed. Because of this, blood arteries narrow as they are more sensitive to the substance produced. As a result, drinking alcohol lowers blood pressure (up to 12 hours after consumption) and raises it afterwards. Within 24 hours after ingestion, alcohol reliably causes an increase in heart rate.
Q. Does beer cause blood sugar to drop?
A. Alcohol consumption increases insulin release, resulting in low blood sugar. This results in weariness, lightheadedness, and several long-term alcohol-related health issues. When alcohol gets broken down in the liver, substances get created. These compounds prevent the liver from producing fresh glucose. As a result, your blood sugar levels drop, and could get to dangerously low levels.
The Supporting Sources
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2 Emanuele NV, Swade TF, Emanuele MA. Consequences of alcohol use in diabetics. Alcohol Health Res World. 1998;22(3):211-9. PMID: 15706798; PMCID: PMC6761899.
3. van de Wiel A. Diabetes mellitus and alcohol. Diabetes Metab Res Rev. 2004 Jul-Aug;20(4):263-7. doi: 10.1002/dmrr.492. PMID: 15250029.
4. Jee YH, Lee SJ, Jung KJ, Jee SH (2016) Alcohol Intake and Serum Glucose Levels from the Perspective of a Mendelian Randomisation Design: The KCPS-II Biobank. PLoS ONE 11(9): e0162930. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0162930
5. Meeking DR, Cavan DA. Alcohol ingestion and glycaemic control in patients with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Diabet Med. 1997 Apr;14(4):279-83. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-9136(199704)14:4<279::AID-DIA327>3.0.CO;2-S. PMID: 9113480.