Alcohol influences glucose metabolism in several ways in diabetic patients as well as in non-diabetic patients. Since alcohol inhibits both gluconeogenesis and glycogenolysis, its acute intake without food may provoke hypoglycaemia, especially in cases of depleted glycogen stores and in combination with sulphonylurea. Consumed with a meal including carbohydrates, it is the preferred fuel, which may initially lead to somewhat higher blood glucose levels and hence an insulin response in type 2 diabetic patients. Depending on the nature of the carbohydrates in the meal, this may be followed by reactive hypoglycaemia. Moderate consumption of alcohol is associated with a reduced risk of atherosclerotic disorders. Diabetic patients benefit from this favourable effect as much as non-diabetic patients. Apart from effects on lipid metabolism, haemostatic balance and blood pressure, alcohol improves insulin sensitivity. This improvement of insulin sensitivity may also be responsible for the lower incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus reported to be associated with light-to-moderate drinking. In case of moderate and sensible use, risks of disturbances in glycaemic control, weight and blood pressure are limited. Excessive intake of alcohol, however, may not only cause loss of metabolic control, but also annihilate the favourable effects on the cardiovascular system.
Copyright 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.