Avoid alcohol in type 1 diabetes

People with type 1 diabetes who drink alcohol should have a low-to-moderate alcohol intake; i.e. no more than two standard drinks per day. (The Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing explains what is meant by an Australian Standard Drink.) A health professional can provide more advice about this.

Alcohol decreases the amount of blood glucose, and increases the chance of low glucose levels (hypoglycaemia or ‘hypos’). This is because the body, especially the liver, needs to break down the alcohol, and while it is processing the alcohol, the liver won’t release any glucose into the blood. This can lead to very low blood glucose levels.


  • Craig ME, Twigg SM, Donaghue KC, et al for the Australian Type 1 Diabetes Guidelines Expert Advisory Group. National evidence-based clinical care guidelines for type 1 diabetes in children, adolescents and adults. Canberra: Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, 2011. www.diabetessociety.com.au/downloads/ Type1guidelines14Nov2011.pdf (accessed 15 November 2011).
  • Type 2 diabetes: priorities and targets. NPS NEWS (www.nps.org.au/health_professionals/publications/nps_news/current/type_2_diabetes_priorities_targets)
  • Yudkin JS, Richter B, Gale EA. Intensified glucose lowering in type 2 diabetes: time for a reappraisal. Diabetologia 2010;53:2079–85.
  • Turnbull FM, Abraira C, Anderson RJ, et al. Intensive glucose control and macrovascular outcomes in type 2 diabetes. Diabetologia 2009;52:2288–98.
  • Kearney PM, Blackwell L, Collins R, et al. Efficacy of cholesterol-lowering therapy in 18,686 people with diabetes in 14 randomised trials of statins: a meta-analysis. Lancet 2008;371:117–25.
  • Law MR, Morris JK, Wald NJ. Use of blood pressure lowering drugs in the prevention of cardiovascular disease: meta-analysis of 147 randomised trials in the context of expectations from prospective epidemiological studies. BMJ 2009;338:b1665.