10,000 feet above sea level at the recent Keystone, Colorado
diabetes conference sponsored by the Barbara Davis Center for
Diabetes Ö a true Rocky Mountain high. And to avoid the
dreaded effects of altitude sickness, we were warned to stay
away from caffeine, marijuana (itís legal on this state, you
know) and alcohol.
the sessions, we learned that alcohol is not always good for
people with diabetes either. Especially in people with type 1
diabetes who rely on multiple daily injections of insulin,
alcohol can often lead to a dangerous drop in blood sugar
levels ó a life threatening condition called hypoglycemia.
the current recommendations around the use of alcohol for
people with diabetes:
with your doctor first. Certain medications for diabetes such
as insulin and other meds that increase the amount of insulin
in the body just donít mix well with diabetes. Unless
closely monitored, the combination of these meds with alcohol
can bring blood glucose levels dangerously low. Ask your doc
what he or she recommends for your particular condition.
moderation. According to the latest guidelines from the
American Diabetes Association, people with diabetes can
usually consume moderate amounts of alcohol with no
detrimental effects. Moderate is defined as no more than one
alcoholic drink a day for women and no more than two a day for
men. One "drink" is measured as one of the
following: 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits like whiskey or
vodka, 5 ounces of wine, or 12 ounces of beer.
always eat when you drink alcohol. The most dangerous effect
of alcohol in someone with diabetes is an abnormal lowering of
blood sugar levels over a period of up to 24 hours. Never,
never, never drink on an empty stomach. And make sure your
meal or snack includes a source of carbohydrate such as bread,
crackers, fruit or grains.
attention to how alcohol affects you. People do not respond
the same to alcohol. Even different types of alcohol can
affect you differently. Check and monitor your blood sugars
frequently if you imbibe. Itís the only way to understand
your individual response.
that alcohol is loaded with empty calories. Ounce for ounce,
alcohol contains almost twice the calories of carbohydrates
Ö with no redeeming nutritional value. And any extra pounds
gained from too much alcohol can translate to more
complications for people with diabetes.
those mixers. Many are loaded with sugar that can spike blood
sugars. One attendee at this conference explained that his
blood sugars jumped extremely high after he drank a margarita.
Even tonic "water" contains almost as much added
sugar as a soda.
doubt, donít. Especially at 10,000 feet altitude.