Precautions regarding alcohol use

•  The same precautions regarding the use of alcohol that apply to the general public apply to persons with diabetes.

•  Alcohol is absorbed from the stomach and small intestine, and because of its toxicity, is metabolized in the liver before other nutrients. Alcohol does not require insulin to be metabolized; in fact, it augments the action of insulin. Alcohol cannot be converted into glucose; it is used as an energy source, or excessive amounts are converted to fats. Alcohol yields 7 calories per gram.

•  If used in moderation, and if diabetes is well controlled, blood glucose levels are not affected by the ingestion of moderate amounts of alcohol. Moderation is defined as two equivalents of an alcoholic beverage once or twice a week.

•  Alcohol inhibits production and the release of glucose from the liver and can cause hypoglycemia when consumed without food. Hypoglycemia can occur at blood alcohol levels that do not exceed mild intoxication, and the hyoglycemic effect may persist from 8 to 12 hours after the last drink.

•  For persons concerned with calories, alcohol is high in calories (7 cal/grm) similar to fat (9 cal/grm) and is metabolized in a manner similar to fat.

•  Alcohol may may raise triglyceride levels.
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