- A study found that consumption of an amount equivalent to three glasses of white wine after a meal rich in carbohydrates can cause insulin levels to decrease.
- Insulin is crucial for processing sugar and starches in the body. Inadequate levels can cause the body’s cells to lack energy they require and potentially lead to diabetes.
- The researchers suggest that there might not be a ‘safe level’ for consumption of white wine, a warning that can extend to other types of alcohol, and particularly advise against wine for those with diabetes.
- However, not all researchers agree on the study’s findings, arguing that insulin and glucose levels naturally decrease as the body digests food, and further comparisons should be made against those who abstain from alcohol after meals.
- Regardless of differing views, it is generally advised that diabetics, especially those on medication, should limit their alcohol consumption.
Enjoying a couple of wine glasses might seem like an excellent way to unwind. However, recent Australian research calls into question whether this is a healthy habit.
The Relationship Between Alcohol and Insulin Levels
A study published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, discovered that consumption of an amount equivalent to three glasses of white wine after a meal rich in carbohydrates could cause the insulin levels to decrease.
Insulin is a vital hormone necessary for processing sugar (glucose) and starches in the body. Insufficient levels of this hormone leave the cells of the body without the energy they require, the researchers note. People who suffer from diabetes are in one of two situations: they either don’t produce any insulin or don’t produce an adequate amount. One key cause of diabetes is an insulin deficiency. Following the ingestions of food, blood glucose levels ascend immediately, and to deal with the rise in glucose, the body generates insulin.
“Our findings suggest that consumption of white wine without accompaniment after a meal might alter glucose metabolism, causing a pseudo-diabetic condition,” stated Anna Kokavec, the study author and a research psychologist associated with La Trobe University in Bundoora, Australia. She further cautioned that there might not be a ‘safe level’ for the consumption of white wine, a caution that could extend to other alcoholic products available commercially. She peculiarly warned people with diabetes against wine.
Contrary Views Regarding Current Findings
But all researchers do not share Kokavec’s perspective. Dr. Kenneth Hupart, Chief of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, N.Y., criticized the study’s relevance to current diabetes care guidelines.
The study observed eight non-diabetic males ranging between 19 and 22 years old. These individuals were all excessive alcohol consumers, although not obese. The participants were provided with a non-vegetarian pizza and a non-alcoholic drink to consume. Subsequently, they were requested to drink three average-sized glasses of wine slowly over a period of 90 minutes.
Blood glucose and insulin readings were taken before the participants began their meal and then again at intervals of 45 minutes, 90 minutes, and 135 minutes following the meal. The levels of insulin decreased swiftly after wine was consumed, dropping to an exceptionally low level in some instances according to Kokavec.
But Dr. Hupart disagrees. He states that insulin and glucose levels typically decrease as the body starts digesting food and a better parameter would be to contrast these levels in people who drink wine post meals with those who abstain.
Kokavec counters these claims, stating that any form of disruption in energy metabolism or utilization could lead to severe health implications. Efficient regulation of insulin is crucial for meeting the energy requirements of cells predominantly outside the brain, and any unbalance could lead to cells being deprived of energy eventually leading to serious illnesses.
Furthermore, Hupart agrees that it’s beneficial for diabetics to restrict their alcohol consumption, particularly those who are on medication to manage their diabetes. Hupart advises discussing your alcohol consumption habits with your physician.