Alcohol and Diabetes: Everything You Need To Know

We talk a lot about alcohol and your health at Club Soda, and alcohol and diabetes are linked in many ways. It may be helpful to understand the benefits of reducing your drinking to your health, including in preventing diabetes, or in alleviating the symptoms.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type, with around 300 million people in the world diagnosed with the condition. Diabetes can occur when the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin, which is the chemical that controls blood sugar levels in the body. This means that not enough of the sugar you consume is converted into energy. You are more likely to have type 2 diabetes if you are overweight, have high blood pressure or cholesterol levels, or are over 40 years of age. Alcohol comes in as something that could contribute to all of these factors, worsening the risk of long-term health problems.

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes

It’s important to be able to spot symptoms early on. According to The Diabetes Community, these can include, but are not limited to:

  • Feeling tired during the day, particularly after meals (fatigue)
  • Often feeling hungry, particularly feeling hungry shortly after eating
  • Urinating more often than normal, particular needing to do so during the night
  • Feeling abnormally thirsty
  • Blurred vision
  • Itching of the skin, particularly itchiness around the genitals
  • Slow healing of cuts or wounds
  • Having regular yeast infections
  • Having a skin disorder such as psoriasis or acanthosis nigricans
  • Sudden weight loss or loss of muscle mass.

Diabetes and dietAlcohol and diabetes

Another issue linking alcohol and diabetes is their connection to diet. One of the main causes of type 2 diabetes is being overweight, which can often be the result of a bad diet, lack of exercise and high alcohol consumption. Alcohol contains a huge amount of calories – one pint of lager can be equivalent to a slice of pizza. This might impact on your body in the form of the alcohol itself, or the sugary soft drink you’re using as a mixer, or the greasy kebab you spontaneously purchase on the way home. The best way of combating this is maintaining a balanced diet and drinking moderately and mindfully.

Blood sugar in diabetes

Now here’s the technical bit. Type 2 diabetes is the result of having too much glucose in the bloodstream, which results in hyperglycemia (otherwise known as a high blood sugar level). This impairs the body’s ability to produce insulin, or means the insulin it does produce becomes ineffective. If you have diabetes, drinking alcohol may cause your blood sugar to either rise or fall, which can make these problems worse and lead to organ damage over time.

Smoking, drinking, and diabetes

Smoking and drinking go hand in hand, and studies have shown that smoking can increase alcohol cravings. Like alcohol, smoking increases blood sugar levels and leads to insulin resistance. Heavy smokers – those who smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day – almost double their risk of developing diabetes, when compared with nonsmokers. Smoking and drinking together, therefore, means double the trouble in terms of potential long-term problems.


We also have a special offer from our friends at OurPath, for all readers. OurPath is a 6-week online programme to help you make small changes that lead to big results. It has helped participants make significant lifestyle changes, leading to weight loss, increased energy, improved mood, better sleeping patterns and greater wellbeing. These will help with diabetes prevention. You can find out more on their website. And you will get a £20 discount on the usual price of the OurPath programme when you sign up by clicking this link!


An important reminder: Club Soda is not intended to provide you with medical advice. We are not qualified for that. If you are at all concerned about your health, please contact your GP or another medical professional.

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