The Effects of Red Wine on Blood Sugar

By Hannah Wickford

Keeping the body's blood sugars at a normal level with few spikes is a major challenge for diabetics. The University of Massachusetts at Amherst conducted a study in 2008 to see what role red wine might play in the diets of Type II diabetics. The results of the study proved that drinking red wine or tea with a meal may help to alleviate the sharp rise in blood sugar that normally follows.

Man pouring wine, close-up of glass

Keeping the body's blood sugars at a normal level with few spikes is a major challenge for diabetics. The University of Massachusetts at Amherst conducted a study in 2008 to see what role red wine might play in the diets of Type II diabetics. The results of the study proved that drinking red wine or tea with a meal may help to alleviate the sharp rise in blood sugar that normally follows.

Blood Sugar

A diabetic woman takes a blood sugar reading.

Most foods that contain carbohydrates or natural sugars will turn into blood glucose, or blood sugar, when they enter our digestive system. Blood glucose plays an important role in the production of our body's energy and nourishment of the brain.

Our pancreas constantly monitors the level of glucose in our blood and produces insulin to counteract any excess blood sugars. A Type II diabetic is unable to properly metabolize the sugars that they ingest, making the glucose in their blood more insulin-resistant. This allows for blood sugar levels that are higher than normal.

Antioxidants

A cup of antioxidant rich green tea.

Red wine contains a specific antioxidant called polyphenols. Antioxidants are substances that can prevent or repair damage to your body's cells. Polyphenols are found in plants, with the highest concentration found in the skin of some fruits. Other sources of polyphenols include berries, tea, beer, olive oil, chocolate and coffee as well as some nuts, fruits and vegetables.

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have also identified polyphenolics as a potential treatment for pancreatic cancer, which is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States.

Function

A woman gives herself an insulin shot.

Because Type II diabetics are unable to properly process their blood sugars, they tend to have extremely high spikes in their glucose immediately following a meal. Kalidas Shetty, a researcher on the University of Massachusetts study, says that the polyphenols in red wine were proven to "slow the passage of glucose through the small intestine and eventually into the bloodstream and prevent this spike, which is an important step in managing this disease."

The antioxidants specifically target an enzyme called alpha-glucosidase that is responsible for triggering absorption of the glucose into our small intestines.

Health Benefits

Blueberries are also rich in antioxidants.

A normal blood sugar range is 70 mg/dl to 120 mg/dl (milligrams of blood sugar to deciliter of blood). Repeated spikes in the blood sugar over a sustained period of time can cause major damage to your body. It can hinder the brain's functions and cause severe high blood pressure, circulatory, heart, kidney and vision problems.

Medications for diabetes are usually unable to counteract the massive influx of glucose into our system after eating a meal. But because the antioxidants in red wine can slow down the absorption, it helps to alleviate those spikes and can prevent major damage to your internal organs.

Warnings

A glass of red wine.

Red wine, like any other type of alcoholic beverage, should be consumed in moderation. While it can provide a positive health benefit when consumed with a meal, over-indulgence can cause adverse health benefits.

If you are drinking any type of wine, you should not be driving. Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities make up more than 30 percent of all traffic fatalities in the United States.

References

About the Author

After attending Fairfield University, Hannah Wickford spent more than 15 years in market research and marketing in the consumer packaged goods industry. In 2003 she decided to shift careers and now maintains three successful food-related blogs and writes online articles, website copy and newsletters for multiple clients.

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