Things You Should Know About Wine and Diabetes

diabetes and wine

People with type 2 diabetes have been found to be 2-4 times more likely to suffer from heart disease when compared to people who do not have diabetes, according to the American Heart Disease, an organization that studies diabetes and its complications.

There is some evidence that, when a person with diabetes drinks a moderate amount of red wine per day, they could decrease their chances of heart disease.  Other evidence indicates that no amount of alcohol should be taken in by diabetics.
wine and diabetes

Facts about Diabetes

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), greater than 29 million Americans have type 2 diabetes.  That represents a tenth of all Americans.  Most people with diabetes have the type 2 kind of diabetes.  In this illness, the body is insulin resistant (meaning that they can’t use insulin to put the glucose in the bloodstream into the cells) or they don’t have enough insulin.  Both conditions can exist at the same time.

Because of a lack of insulin or insulin resistance, the diabetic patient with type 2 diabetes have elevations in blood sugar values.  They tend to get better if they take a variety of medications, such as insulin, oral medications for diabetes, exercise on a regular basis, and eat a healthy diet.  In many cases, the diet is important in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

The major macronutrient that causes blood glucose to rise includes carbohydrates, such as starchy foods, candy and other sweets, fruits, and bread-like products.  While, wine is considered a carbohydrate, there is some evidence to suggest that alcohol intake may actually decrease blood glucose levels, rather than increasing the levels of blood glucose.

Red Wine and Blood Sugar Values

Wine and DiabetesAccording to the research funded by the American Diabetes Association, drinking a glass of red wine (or any type of alcohol) can decrease blood glucose levels for up to 24 hours after drinking these types of beverages.  Because of this factor, the ADA recommends that you check your blood glucose level prior to taking a drink, during drinking, and up to 24 hours after consuming an alcoholic beverage.

One of the problems with drinking and diabetes is that you may have symptoms that resemble type 2 diabetes when you drink alcohol. This means that you may cause people to think you are acting differently because of taking in alcohol, when the low blood glucose levels are the actual culprit behind your behavior.

Another problem with drinking and diabetes is that certain alcoholic beverages, including those that have added substances such as fruit juice or an alcohol mixture that is high in glucose, can actually raise the blood glucose values.

Red Wine and Type 2 Diabetes

Even though some alcoholic beverages increase blood glucose levels, research indicates that drinking red wine may actually be beneficial to those suffering from type 2 diabetes.

In a recent study out of the Annals of Internal Medicine, it was found that drinking red wine in moderation (about a glass per day) can decrease the chances of developing heart disease (heart attacks, stroke, and peripheral arterial disease) in those suffering from type 2 diabetes.

In this study, greater than 200 research participants were watched for up to 2 years.  One group were instructed to drink a glass of red wine every day with supper, while others drank white wine and still others drank mineral water instead.  All participants ate a Mediterranean-type diet that didn’t restrict the intake of calories.

The study lasted 2 years.  After 2 years, those who drank red wine had elevated levels of HDL cholesterol and decreased total cholesterol than were found in people who drank white wine or only drank mineral water.  There were also benefits in the blood glucose level in the red wine drinking population.  Researchers believed that drinking moderate amounts of this type of alcoholic beverage along with eating a healthy diet may moderately decrease the risk of heart disease.

The Takeaway Message

Red wine seems to decrease blood sugar levels in those who drink the beverage in moderation.  Those who suffer from type 2 diabetes and who drink red wine should drink just a glass per day as consuming any more than that could cause blood sugar levels to be high.  The beverage should be taken in moderation and the timing involved in drinking red wine during meals is important, especially with diabetics who also must take medications for their diabetes.

Another study, out of the Annals of Internal Medicine, was undertaken showing that moderate wine consumption can actually improve your health.  The study lasted two years and was performed on participants who suffered from type 2 diabetes.

Researchers out of the Ben Gurion University in Israel indicated that many diabetics believe that alcohol is bad for you.  This is a myth and all types of alcohol are bad for you.  In a study out of the university, 225 individuals with high blood glucose levels were studied. As part of the study, the participants were instructed to follow the Mediterranean diet for 2 years.

Every participant was eating the same types of foods but some of them drank mineral level, others had a glass of white wine per day, while still others consumed a glass of red wine per day. At the conclusion of the study, the researchers determined that those who drank red wine (at a glass per day) were able to stave of heart disease if they were diabetic.

The red wine drinkers had improvements in their blood glucose levels.  The same was true of white wine drinkers.  Those who drank red wine fared better than those who drank white wine or drank mineral water.  The blood lipid values were improved only in the group that drank the red wine.

The effects of drinking red wine are not very big but experts believe that it is still beneficial to drink a glass of red wine per day.  Other studies have shown that certain components of red wine are beneficial against the prevention of heart disease by decreasing cholesterol levels.

With regard to blood glucose levels, the type of alcoholic beverage you need to drink doesn’t matter.  Both red and white wine intake were able to lower blood glucose values, indicating that it’s the alcohol that lowers the blood glucose levels rather than drinking a specific type of alcohol.

People don’t metabolize alcohol in the same fashion.  Some people are slow metabolizers and others are fast metabolizers—a phenomenon that is believed to be genetic in origin. In the study on red wine intake and diabetes, those who drank alcohol and metabolized it more slowly had the greatest benefit in blood glucose levels.

As you can’t determine whether you metabolize alcohol slowly or quickly, you need to be cautions around drinking red wine with your meal unless you can prove that drinking the wine is beneficial to your diabetes.


  1. Red Wine and Type 2 Diabetes: Is There a Link?
  2. A Glass Of Wine A Day May Help Control Type 2 Diabetes.
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