Wine and Diabetes: Can I Still Drink Alcohol?

Wine and Diabetes: Can I Still Drink Alcohol?

It's ok

Glycemic index:


Calories per 100 g:

85 kcal

When diagnosed with a metabolic disorder like diabetes, there's this worry about what not to eat and how what you eat can affect your body. And since wine and other alcoholic beverages are already linked with many health conditions, some just assume their drinking days are over. But is that the case with diabetes?

People with diabetes don't necessarily need to quit wine or alcohol. In fact, some reports suggest that wine intake, especially red wine, offers some health benefits to diabetic patients. But drinking must be in moderation; we cannot overlook the numerous health risks associated with drinking alcohol excessively. 

That said, what's exactly the relationship between wine and diabetes? How can consuming wine improve my diabetic condition? This article answers all your questions relating to alcohol consumption and management of diabetes. Read on to learn how you can continue to enjoy your favorite beverage. Cheers!


Nutritional value

  • Protein 0.1 g
  • Carbohydrate 2.6 g
  • Fat 0 g
  • Fiber 0 g
  • Sugar 0.6 g
  • Cholesterol 0 g

Health Benefits of Red Wine for People With Diabetes

Besides wine's effect on blood glucose, it may provide some health benefits to diabetic patients, especially type 2 diabetes. Let's take a quick look at some of its benefits. 


Reduced Risk of Diabetes Complications

Studies suggest that moderate consumption of wine, especially red wine, may lower the risk of certain diabetes complications, such as retinopathy. Another study discovered that wine consumption in obese and overweight females reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes. 

Moderate wine intake is also said to improve glucose metabolism. The glucose metabolism benefits of wine involve drinking moderate amounts of wine or other alcoholic beverage daily.  


Protects Heart

According to the American Heart Association, diabetic individuals are up to four times more likely to develop heart disease, like high blood pressure, than people who don't have the disorder. So when diagnosed with diabetes, it is in your best interest to eat foods that improve your cardiovascular health. These foods include leafy vegetables, walnuts, avocados, and berries. 

Daily red wine consumption may help improve heart health. These wines contain some antioxidants that may offer protection to the heart. However, to benefit from the protective health benefits of red wine, drinking should be in moderation - say one glass per day.


Improve Cholesterol Levels 

A study that took place within a space of two years in a group of over 200 participants showed that daily consumption of red wine could improve cholesterol levels. In this study, the participants were grouped into three. All were strictly on a Mediterranean diet. After dinner each night, one group drank mineral water, another consumed red wine, and the last had white wine. 

Through the study, reports suggest that those who took red wine had more HDL, high-density lipoproteins, which are the good cholesterol for the body, and fewer LDL, bad cholesterol, was also recorded. 

Elevated cholesterol levels in the blood increase the risk of developing many metabolism disturbances, including diabetes and heart disease. So, we can conclude that red wine is indeed good for the health of people with type 2 diabetes. However, due to the other dangers and risks of excessive consumption, we must stress that you drink alcohol in moderation. 

A report from the American Diabetes Association suggests that moderate intake of red wine can improve glycemic control, fasting sugar, and increase insulin levels and postprandial glucose. This report suggests that a compound in grape, polyphenols, and not just alcohol are responsible for some of these activities. It also included that red wine had about 12 times the amount of polyphenols as white wine. Consequently, it's more beneficial for type 2 diabetes management. 

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What is the Glycemic Index of Wine? 

The glycemic index of carbohydrates denotes how likely the food will elevate sugar levels after consumption. It ranks all carbohydrates from 1 to 100. Foods with a glycemic index of 0, like egg or other proteins, indicate that they lack any form of protein. 

Though wine, and other alcoholic beverage, contain sugar, a carbohydrate, it is difficult to obtain their glycemic index. This is because the amount of carbs in these drinks is so little. 

Some indicate the glycemic index of alcoholic drinks to be zero, which is not true. After all, these beverages contain sugar and can cause spikes in blood sugar. This is why we often suggest drinking in moderation. Also, ensure you do not drink on an empty stomach; it may lead to harmful side effects after drinking. You may also need to monitor your sugar level a few minutes after drinking. 

So, Is Wine a Safe Drink for People with Diabetes?

Both red and white wines are relatively low-sugar drinks containing around 1 gram of sugar per standard serving size (5-ounce). However, red wine appears to contain less sugar than the white variant. Generally, this low sugar content of wine is unlikely to cause a significant effect on sugar levels, even for people with type 2 diabetes. 

Besides the sugar in the wine, other constituents like alcohol may influence blood glucose levels. The alcohol in alcoholic beverages like vodka, beer, cider, and even alcohol is obtained from the fermentation of starch and sugars used in their manufacture. As a result, alcohol tends to contain a relatively high amount of calories. For example, a typical 5-ounce serving of red wine contains more than 120 calories. 

Therefore, consuming multiple glasses of wine daily means taking in lots of calories, which may lead to further weight gain. To properly manage type 2 diabetes, weight loss proves effective. After all, obesity and weight gain put you at risk of developing diabetes. 

Besides the role of alcohol consumption in weight gain, excessive consumption of alcohol is generally unhealthy. In people with diabetes, it may even worsen an already improving health condition, resulting in diabetic complications, such as ketoacidosis - the body produces excess harmful acids. In other cases, it can tremendously lower blood sugar levels, resulting in hypoglycemia, which is fatal. 

Research also suggests that occasional drinking of alcohol, red or white wine has little or no consequences on sugar levels. So, we suggest that people with diabetes can continue to enjoy wine. However, do so in moderation and maintain a healthy diet. A healthy feeding routine is perhaps one of the most effective means of managing diabetes. 

Which Wines Are Good For Diabetes? 

If you want to continue enjoying wine as one with type 2 diabetes, it is best to stick with low-calorie and low-sugar wines. 

Below are the two wines for low calories and low sugar. 


Red Wine

Of all wine variants, red wines contain the least amount of sugars, though white wine tends to contain fewer calories. Most of the health benefits associated with wines are those of red wines. They contain the most antioxidants and health-promoting compounds. 


White Wine

This wine also contains less sugar and calories. Generally, white wines are less alcoholic than red wines. Hence, the fewer calories it contains. A standard 5-oz serving of white wine contains less than 4 grams of sugar. Some brands of champagne even contain less than 2 grams of total carbohydrates. 

These two wine varieties are your best bet when you are diagnosed with metabolic disorders and want to continue your drinking habit. Many other wine variants tend to have more calories and sugar. For example, a serving of sweet dessert wine contains almost two times the calories of red or white wine. The sugar, too, is at least up to 10 grams. 

How Does Drinking Alcohol And Blood Sugar?

When you drink alcohol regularly or excessive drinking within a short time; it can lead to dangerously low blood sugar levels. You may think you already have diabetes - suffer from spells of high blood sugar. Unknowingly to you, your wine and other alcoholic beverages can also cause excessively low blood sugar levels. 

The liver is the major organ responsible for detoxification; it also acts on the alcohol you consume. This same liver is responsible for glucose synthesis, especially when sugar levels drop in the body. But when you are on diabetes medication, which normally functions by reducing blood glucose levels. The alcohol consumed competes with the liver's glucose synthesis. Hence, your body is short of glucose, which may lead to hypoglycemia, which can be fatal. 

Often, this scenario occurs in individuals that take alcohol on an empty stomach. So, when you choose to enjoy any alcoholic beverage, it is in your best interest to eat or have eaten before drinking. Also, you may need to monitor your sugar levels before and after drinking. 

How Does Wine Affect Blood Sugar Levels

The American Diabetes Association states that drinking wine or any alcoholic drink can reduce blood sugar levels for up to 24 hours. Therefore, monitoring your sugar levels before and after drinking is highly recommended. You sure do not want it to be lower than it should, which may result in hypoglycemia. 

Drunken states and hypoglycemia share similar symptoms, such as lightheadedness and drowsiness. So, suppose you enjoy your drink and fail to monitor blood sugar levels. In that case, you may think you are getting intoxicated when in fact, you are already hypoglycemic, which can be fatal if not immediately corrected. 

Besides lowering blood sugar, wine and other alcoholic beverages may even elevate blood sugar. Some of these alcoholic beverages contain added sugars, hence the reason for moderate alcohol consumption. 

What Exactly is Moderate Drinking?

We have reiterated that people with diabetes should drink wine moderately. But what exactly is moderate drinking? Also, How much wine is too much? Is it the whole bottle or just a glass of wine?

As seen on the official website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, moderate alcohol consumption involves limiting alcohol intake to not more than two drinks a day for men. Women are told not to consume less than one drink. Men, because of higher levels of ADH in the stomach and liver, can process alcohol better than women. 

That said, a standard drink of wine is the 5-ounce glass and not the whole bottle. Generally, it is advised for all individuals to maintain a healthy drinking habit - drinking less! Healthy individuals, too, should follow this guideline of moderate drinking. It is better for maintaining general well-being. No report says excessive alcohol intake is beneficial. 


Many with diabetes worry whether wine or alcohol consumption is healthy for their condition. Well, provided you follow the principle of drinking in moderation - not more than two drinks in a day, there should be no danger to your health. However, if you are diagnosed with any other condition, like kidney or liver disease, do not take alcohol. 

Ultimately, it is vital that anyone managing a metabolic condition like diabetes visit the hospital regularly for routine check-ups. It is important to know your status from time to time. Also, you should visit a dietitian to help prepare a suitable feeding pattern that can best manage your condition. 

Perhaps you are not chanced to visit your healthcare provider regularly. Suitable apps and tools are designed solely to help you manage your blood sugar.  An excellent example of such an app is Klinio. This tool helps you monitor your sugar levels and exercise levels. Do not substitute this app with a visit to your doctor.  

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