Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Diabetes and Wine

A few years ago I was diagnosed with diabetes. For a food and wine lover this was the last thing I ever wanted to hear. I was sure my life was about to change, and that I would never have a decent meal or any fun, ever. My life did change, but I still get to eat pretty well.

What follows is an anecdotal tale of my personal experiences. I can not begin to stress enough that I am not giving advice, and that you should check with your doctor and nutritionist before changing your diet in any way. That said, here is what life is like for a diabetic ex-chef with a serious love for wine.

Carbs are the killer. White bread and white rice are just as bad as sugar for my glycemic index (a term I will be using a lot, and abbreviating as GI). Whole wheat bread is better than white bread, but brown rice doesn't seem to make any difference, for me.

It is that "difference for me" part that is important. Being a good scientist I test my blood sugar level any time I add something new to my diet. This is the only way I can tell what makes a difference, and how much.

Not all carbs effect me the same way. I can eat potatoes without a blip in my GI. I can eat starchy vegetables like beans and corn, and again, no problem for me. I so much as look at regular pasta and my numbers go through the roof (the Dreamfields brand of pasta is much better on my numbers).

The good news for red wine lovers is that most dry red wines have little to no sugar (that being the meaning of dry). White wines are much more likely to have some sugar.

Personally, I love dessert wines, and these have been relegated to the once in a great while category. That said, I recently tested my numbers two hours after having a big glass of very sweet dessert wine, and I was only 110. I suspect that my body deals with the fructose (the sugar in fruit, and so wine) better than other kinds of carbs.

Diabetics are trying to ensure their future. Rarely do we really have to worry about day to day effects of diabetes (unless you go way too low, or way too high). It is all about reducing the risk of complications, especially cardiac complications, that might pop up years from now.

Considering the health benefits of red wine, many diabetics, myself included, consider that a moderate amount of red wine is down right good for us. Most of the expert sources reluctantly agree. If you test, and red wine does not seem to be effecting your GI, than a glass or two with a meal may be for you.

This is important news for wine loving diabetics. Too many of us assume that our lives have been changed so dramatically that we will never be able to enjoy anything we love, ever again. In all things moderation, and for diabetics, or anyone, a moderate amount of wine may not be anything to be concerned with.

I can not stress enough how important it is to test regularly, and randomly. I was so good about testing that I had gotten to the point where I knew exactly what effect every type of food would have on me. And so I got out of the habit. Dramatic, and unhealthy weight loss after a bout of the flu sent me back to my meter to see if there was a connection, and indeed there was. My numbers were in the high 300s, close to needing to be hospitalized.

A couple of weeks of careful diet, and a slight adjustment of my medication and I was back to where I was before (with an A1c around 6). The great news is that I was not only able to get it all back under control again, but I did it, and continue to do it without suffering a bit.

If you or a loved one are a diabetic and a wine drinker, there is hope. After checking with your doctor, nutritionists, and making sure you attorneys don't hold me liable, you may be able to continue enjoying your red wine (and occasional sweet or white wines) without a qualm.

UPDATE: There has been a study that suggests that red wine may actually be good for diabetics. The Resveratrol found in red wine has been given credit for red wine's effect on improved cardiac health and reduced cholesterol levels. Now it has been found to curb insulin resistance in mice. Of course much more study needs to be done, but this certainly doesn't hurt the rationalization for diabetics enjoying a little red wine in moderation.

You may look up for yourself that red wine has little to no sugars at the USDA Web Site. You will have to search for Red Wine, since the URL didn't contain the search values, and I could only link you to the search page. I should have posted this link in the original article.


Anonymous AmyT of www.diabetesmine.com said...

Hey WineGuy,
Nice post. I've found that I can't drink cocktails anymore, but wine goes quite well with insulin, as long as you eat some carbs, too :)

Thanks for the info!

5:00 PM  
Blogger Wineguy said...

I am mostly a wine drinker so I have never been big n cocktails, but... I do like a margarita now and then.

Because wine by the glass can be pretty spotty, I am learning to explore Scotch more.

It is the mixer in most cocktails that have sugar, so if you can take your booze straight you are better off.

I would still rather have a good glass of wine though.

6:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wineguy, thanks so much for your insights here. I am a small winery owner just recently dianosed with type-2. I seem to have my numbers under control now so I discussed wine with my doctor and am going to do a little expermenting drinking with food. Reading your note gave me some confident to proceed but with caution. Thanks.

6:35 AM  
Blogger ARUNSHA said...

Hi Wineguy,

Your posting is heartening. I am at the threashold of diabetes and was afraid to be refrain from coktail parties. Let me too join the band wagon of redwine drinkers.


10:58 AM  
Blogger Dr. Tej Singh said...

Dear WineGuy,I thought that Red Wine contains much sugar,but thanks that I can drink 1or2 glass of Red wine.I am diabetics(modrate)
Pl.comment upon the view.
Thanks,Dr.Tej S.Chauhan

9:26 PM  
Blogger DaeLite City resident said...

Thanks Wineguy. I am not diabetic but have been told to avoid concentrated sugars and reduce carbs. I was wondering if I could have a glass of red wine since I still have 1/2 a bottle.

I was wondering about Sake. Would it be okay too, in red?

2:42 PM  
Blogger Wineguy said...

Sake is made from rice, and tends to have a bit of residual sugar (therefore carbs). As well since it is not made from a fruit, the carbs do not come from fructose, that is to say they are not a "good" sugar (although most carbs are the same for diabetics, fructose is the least bad for many of us).

Red Sake, which is somewhat rare, is made from red rice, and usually has even more sugar left in it.

So the short answer is, no. Sake is not wine, it is not full of the good things that make wine beneficial to health, and it has carbs.

7:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks so much WineGuy for the information. I'd better stay away then.


DaeLite City Resident

7:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for this blog. My mom is a diabetic and she loves white wine. I will try to steer her towards the reds now. She only has like half a glass of the white every now and then and it doesn't affect her sugar much. it does make her sleepy though. :p I bought a beautiful merlot in napa she might like.

8:44 AM  
Anonymous Trevor said...

Thanks Wineguy, this is good news as I love red wine. I am type 2 and so was my dad, who was a wine merchant. He was advised not to touch any wine. Perhaps it was wrong advise!! But that was in the late 70s. I will experiment a bit.

5:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you said your number was 110, what was it before you drank?

6:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That article you linked to does not seem to suggest that it is okay for diabetics to drink red wine. Here's an excerpt:

"The researchers aren't recommending that anyone rely on wine to help their insulin sensitivity."

Maybe you should take link off and update the post?

6:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Informative. I've been type 2 for 7 years, and progressed off oral meds to insulin after 2 years of being diagnosed. I constantly pursue what causes my bloodsugar to do what & when. This morning my BS was 321 (excessively high) and all I can trace it to is 2 glasses of wine last night, as well as possibly underdosing insulin for what I ate. I like the idea of testing after you've introduced a new food to see what the effect is. All your comments, and many of the responses are helpful. It's an ugly disease.

10:11 AM  
Anonymous Keith said...

new diabetic Keith from Alice Springs,Australia.If I have two beers before a meal,followed by two glasses of red after dinner,my bsl 12 hrs. later is >10mmols.If I have the same except have white wine,next day my BSL is <10mmols.Why is this so? Has it got something to do with the Tanin? Does the glucose get locked into the red on a molecular & is only released many hours later or what?

5:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found I can drink the Corbett Canyon Pinot Noir and not have a spike and if I take a full glass at bed time I wake up with at least 10 mg/dl lower readings. If my numbers are low at bedtime and i don't want them to bottom out, I will mix 50/50 the Pinot with the Franzia Chillable Red and my numbers will still be lower.

5:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for a very informed and well written piece!

3:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi WineGuy,
Thanks for the info. I came to know that I am a diabetic couple of months back. After reading your blog, I realised it need not be as bad as I thought.

4:55 AM  
Anonymous Blood Tests for Diabetes said...

There are several tests to measure glucose level in blood and urine to confirm presence of diabetes. These tests also help detect the presence of ketones which are formed due to absence of adequate insulin.

3:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Wineguy, found your information very helpful, I am not Diabetic, just have a pretty high level, & hopefully not too late to control it myself if I watch my diet. I just happen to like Red Wine.

3:53 PM  
Anonymous Tandurust.com said...

Flavanoids and resveratrol present in red wine and grape juice, are potent anti-oxidants. They increase the anti-oxidant capacity of blood, protect against vascular damage, and prevent platelets from clumping together, thus preventing blood clots from occurring.
Resveratrol, in addition to the above benefits, prevents or diminishes the build up of plaque within the arteries, thus averting the occurrence of atherosclerosis.

12:03 AM  
Blogger Herrien said...

Nice post, thanks for sharing this wonderful and useful information with us.

Green Tea
Green Tea Diet

9:19 PM  
Anonymous Lose Fat Stomach said...

Great Piece!

Always remember, anything that is taken too much is harmful to our body!

We need to have it balance at all times!

2:13 AM  
Blogger jennifer4college said...

I was diagnosed with Type 2, three years ago and was on three meds and the blood sugar was still out of control on occations and I was headed to insulin. Two months ago I started the pancreatic protocol and have dropped two meds and my numbers are hitting in the normal range 100 - 110 for the first time in two years. I do enjoy wine with dinner as I learned to do in France and am able to drink 2 glasses of wine with high protein, no carb dinner and not effect my blood sugar. If you want to use food to cure your diabetes and lose weight at the same time contact me. jeenifer4college@aol.com

9:50 AM  
Anonymous Gnarly shreader said...

Thank you so much for the info! just diagnosed type 1 less than one week ago and relieved to know a alcoholic beverage is o.k for the individual, will miss all the beers i use to enjoy!

10:42 PM  
Blogger j.gordon said...

I have the same problem with carbs so it was very interesting to read what you said. I can eat potatoes and beans but not pasta and no white flour. White flour really sends my blood sugars through the roof. For a while I gave up alcohol completely - and tea and coffee - and had a very very green diet but it became boring and I love wine and good coffee so I just limit my intake. I also agree about testing and wish that doctors would realise how often one needs to test. Thanks for the article, it really cheered me up!

11:15 AM  

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