Beer is a cult. There are beer drinkers who prefer it to other drinks. 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 serious health implications.
Beer can cause fluctuations in sugar levels. Since beer contains sugar in the form of maltose or maltodextrin, it raises blood sugar levels. Everyone should be careful what they consume.
People with diabetes should be extremely careful. We often forget that alcohol contains calories. The danger of having high blood sugar increases with the number of carbohydrates present in alcohol.
If you drink, do so in moderation and only when your blood sugar and diabetes are under control. Also, one drink of alcohol should count as two fat swaps if you’re following a low-calorie meal plan.
Beer is a widely consumed alcoholic beverage all year round, but summer seems to be its peak season. Nevertheless, it’s hard to resist a cold glass of beer if you’re out with friends. So before you hit the bottle, here’s what the experts want you to know.
Understanding Beer – More Than Just a Party Drink
One of the oldest and best-known types of alcoholic beverages in the world is beer. Around 5,000 years ago, the Middle East was probably where the first barley-based beer was produced.
It is made by brewing and fermenting starches mainly from cereals, most commonly malted barley. However, other variations include wheat, maize (maize), rice, and oats. Beer goes through the brewing process by fermenting starch sugars in the wort, producing ethanol and carbonation.
Most modern beers are brewed with hops, which add bitterness and other flavors. It also acts as a natural preservative and stabilizer.
Hops can be substituted or added to other flavors such as gruit, herbs or fruits. The natural carbonation effect is often eliminated during processing and replaced by forced carbonation in commercial brewing.
What are the different types of beer?
Beer comes in over 100 different varieties. But to clarify, the beer can be a beer or a lager.
Lagers are fermented with bottom-fermenting yeast at temperatures between 35°F and 50°F. In contrast, beers are fermented with top-fermenting yeast between 60°F and 70°F.
Among several beers are Indian lager (IPA), Imperial IPA, stouts, New England-style IPA, and Gose, a wheat beer. Lagers include American, Mexican, Viennese, Pilsner, and Hellenic.
Light beer is brewed the same way as regular beer, but contains fewer calories and less alcohol than regular beer. In addition, non-alcoholic beer contains about 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 content, consumers frequently drink several glasses and close to 600 to 1,000 calories.
Your body does not get any protein, fat, mineral or vitamin from these empty calories. Four cans equal about 60 grams of carbs, as each can contains about 15 grams. Moreover, studies show that the beer has a high GI, ranging from 89 to 110.
Research indicates that alcohol enters the bloodstream after consumption and instantly reaches the brain. In addition, alcohol affects the liver and prevents it from making glucose. As a result, your blood sugar drops if you drink too much alcohol. As a result, it could lead to hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar).
People with diabetes should limit their beer consumption to a bare minimum. Best to refrain from it. If you opt for this, 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 g of carbohydrates are present in 12 ounces of beer, while mild beer contains only 3-6 g), because the sugar content of beer takes more time to fade away.
Never combine soft drinks with alcohol to ensure that the least harm is done to the body. Drink mindfully and stay hydrated between drinks (beer is a diuretic that depletes the electrolyte balance).
The increase in sugar can, in extreme circumstances, lead to high blood pressure, partial paralytic stroke or cardiac arrest. Diabetes medications like metformin and insulin can interact badly with alcohol; these drugs lower blood sugar levels and drinking alcohol can further lower them.
Note from The Fitness Freak
“Is beer good for diabetics? or “Is beer bad for diabetics?” is one of the most frequently asked questions. Drinking alcohol can cause your blood sugar to go up or down if you have diabetes. Also, a lot of calories are included in alcohol. Therefore, a person with diabetes should ideally avoid alcohol.
How much alcohol is in beer?
The alcohol content of beer can differ significantly. For example, regular beer usually contains 5% alcohol, but can contain up to 10%. Even though it contains fewer calories and alcohol than regular beer, light beer still contains around 4% alcohol.
For example, distilled spirits like gin, rum, and vodka contain around 40% alcohol, while wine typically contains around 12% alcohol. While some non-alcoholic beer brands contain 0% alcohol, others contain 0.5%.
Alcohol for Diabetics – Do’s and Don’ts
Diabetic patients who consume alcohol should observe the following rules:
- Do not drink alcohol on an empty stomach.
- For men, never consume more than two glasses of alcohol per day. For women, do not consume more than one. The recommended amount of beer is less than 341 ml (12 oz) per day.
- Drink slowly.
- Avoid pairing it with “soft drinks” or “sweet” cocktails.
- Mix alcohol with water, soda or diet soda.
Consult your nutritionist to find out if drinking alcohol is safe for you. Remember that alcohol can also affect how some drugs work. Talking to your healthcare professional about your nutrition is always a good idea. If you are diabetic, you need to control your blood sugar. If you need a state-of-the-art diabetes technology solution that measures your blood sugar minute by minute, counts calories, and offers one-on-one real-time coaching, HealthifyPro is the answer.
Most people with diabetes need to follow a healthy lifestyle. However, alcohol can be consumed in absolute moderation, including beer. Avoid drinking beer on an empty stomach, especially if you’re taking insulin or diabetes medications like sulfonylureas.
According to studies, it may increase your risk of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar). Also, when drinking beer, check your blood sugar frequently, as alcohol can cause hypoglycemia that lasts up to 24 hours after you stop drinking.
Beer contains calories, so it’s best to limit the amount you drink if you have diabetes. You have to manage your weight for a healthy life. Always choose a light beer to reduce calories.
Beer belly results from the excessive consumption of calories from food or alcohol, which leads to other health problems like type 2 diabetes, liver disease, high blood pressure and heart disease .
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q. What happens if a diabetic drinks beer?
A. Research shows that drinking beer can cause blood sugar to rise in type 2 diabetes. Whereas in type 1 diabetes, excessive alcohol consumption can lower blood sugar, sometimes to dangerously low levels .
Q. Does beer raise blood sugar?
A. The carbohydrates in beer raise blood sugar levels. Alcohol increases appetite, which can lead to overeating. Therefore, it may impact your ability to control your blood sugar. Additionally, the carbohydrate content of beer makes it relatively quickly absorbed into the system. This can lead to higher blood sugar. Shortly after ingesting alcohol, an increase in blood sugar levels is observed.
Q. Can type 2 diabetics drink beer?
A. Patients with type 2 diabetes can consume beer in moderation (341 ml/12 oz). However, the high calorie content of alcoholic beverages also has an impact on your weight, so it is best to consume it within the recommended intake only once a month or once every 15 days.
Q. When I drink beer, my blood pressure drops.
A. The amount of calcium that binds to the blood arteries increases when alcohol is consumed. As a result, the blood arteries narrow because they are more sensitive to the substance produced. As a result, alcohol consumption lowers blood pressure (up to 12 hours after consumption) and increases it thereafter. Within 24 hours of ingestion, alcohol reliably causes an increase in heart rate.
Q. Does beer lower blood sugar?
A. Alcohol consumption increases the release of insulin, which leads to hypoglycemia. This leads to fatigue, dizziness, and several long-term alcohol-related health problems. When alcohol breaks down in the liver, substances are created. These compounds prevent the liver from producing fresh glucose. As a result, your blood sugar drops and could reach dangerously low levels.
Sources of support
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4. Jee YH, Lee SJ, Jung KJ, Jee SH (2016) Alcohol Consumption and Serum Glucose from the Perspective of a Mendelian Randomization Design: The KCPS-II Biobank. PLoS ONE 11(9): e0162930. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0162930
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