Turning Wine Into Insulin

What, you haven’t heard about this miracle? Let me fill you in, then: It takes place in my living room — any time I choose to wash down a meal containing pasta, bread, potatoes, rice, risotto, or any other form of starchy goodness with a big old glass of Cabernet.

"Psst! That girl over there has diabetes. I don't think she's supposed to be eating any wedding cake."

Case in point: the other night I sat down with a plate of rotini with Italian sausage and peppers. Lots of it. A pre-meal blood sugar check put me at 84. I started to bolus, and then decided to perform a little experiment — I’d skip the extra insulin, just for a little bit, and see what happened.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve had a glass of red wine with a meal — and bolused appropriately — only to find myself slurping grape juice (the unfermented stuff) not even an hour later. And for me, the right-after-you-eat-low is the worst kind of low there is. You’re full, you’re tired, and you just ate, for Pete’s sake.

Which brings me back to Tuesday, when I decided to see if I could make the wine-induced hypoglycemia work for me. And it did. An hour after I ate, I was at 110, and a few hours later, right before bed, I was back in the high 80s. I wish you could see the joyful little jig I did while I was brushing my teeth. Why didn’t I start drinking wine when I was 12? Think of all the units and boluses and low blood sugars I could have avoided.

There’s no telling if I’ll be able to repeat this tiny Tuesday night miracle, but I’ll give it a shot. I figure if, as Benjamin Franklin once said, beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy, wine might be proof that God thinks I need a night off from carb counting.

19 comments on “Turning Wine Into Insulin

  1. Karen says:

    I always say I should drink more! My post-dinner BGs after drinking are good, and if I go out to a bar and have a few drinks?! The entire next day is *amazing*

  2. Sarah says:

    Are you serious!? No bolus at all?! Did you go high later? I may have to try this “cure”!!!!

  3. Katie says:

    That’s fantastic. I need to eat about 15 carbs for every drink I consume (1 shot, 1 – 12 oz beer, 4 oz of wine) or I crash out after. So a big plate of pasta? 45 carbs? I guess I would need 3 glasses of wine. Heehee. (Although 4 ounces looks awfully small in a wine glass!) Yay for rockin’ experiment results! 🙂

  4. As I understand it, alcohol interferes with the liver’s release of glucagon– so even though there are carbohydrates and calories in alcohol, the overall effect is often to lower blood glucose levels for a while. Apparently, according to the NIDDK, even non-diabetics can get hypoglycemic if binge drinking:

    Alcoholic beverages. Drinking alcoholic beverages, especially binge drinking, can cause hypoglycemia. The body’s breakdown of alcohol interferes with the liver’s efforts to raise blood glucose. Hypoglycemia caused by excessive drinking can be serious and even fatal. ( http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/hypoglycemia/ )

    And according to the ADA: Alcohol can cause hypoglycemia shortly after drinking and for 8-12 hours after drinking. ( http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/alcohol.html )

    So, yeah, fun every once in a while… but unfortunately, I guess the short-term blood sugar gain is at the long-term expense of the liver. Mumble mumble moderation 🙂

    • Jacquie says:

      Thanks for the info! Yeah, if ever there was a blog post in need of a disclaimer, it’d have to be this one. 🙂

    • Ckoei says:

      Just want to pick at Karmel’s biochemical nits: alcohol interferes with the liver’s release of glycogen (animal-starch), not glucagon…which is a hormone released by the working bits of your pancreas (or would be, if it wasn’t for the constant presence of therapeutic insulin). There, Bad Pancreas, I’ve come up for you, you traitorous meatball ;)!

  5. Layne says:

    Dammit! Why can’t I drink wine???? Oh, yeah. . . . maybe I’ll enjoy my first meal, post-baby with a glass of white!

  6. Rachel says:

    Holy crapballs! I’ll have to try that, because my sugars spike the MOST with pasta. Even the whole wheat nonsense (ew).

    Imma try it this weekend! 😀

  7. Kim says:

    The Great Secret is out! I’ve never tried skipping the bolus all-together – I have done half of it, or done a square bolus over several hours. Hmm, I might have to try your experiement, too – in the name science, of course.

  8. Abbey says:

    Best known secret ever! Seriously, this should be included in all diabetes education. It solves so many pasta/pizza issues.

  9. Lindsay says:

    That is awesome! I’ll have to try that someday, someday when I’m not pregnant. 🙂 Thanks for the info!

  10. sisiay says:

    Wow, wine doesn’t do that for me. It helps in lots of other ways, but I still need insulin. Maybe if I inject the wine and drink the insulin…

  11. Karen says:

    I’ve found wine hugely intensifies the effects of a workout. In fact, I’ve had nights where I had a glass of wine and did some dancing, and found my blood sugar was stuck in the 30s for 12 hours!! Ugh! These were in my pre-pump days – not it’s easier to managed by suspending basal rates.

    Yay for wine!!

  12. krista says:

    I totally know what you mean. Red wine does not act quite as fast for me as it does for you but it “is” like insulin for me! If I have red wine with a carby meal – I will experience a low about 3 – 5 hours later. I have learned to adjust my insulin intake with meals accordingly – but have not quite mastered this…

    The body really is amazing isn’t it! I love experimenting! 🙂

  13. I think my Franzia box wine is still too much like sweetened fruit juice. 🙂 Maybe I need to drink a *real* wine instead?

  14. mark says:

    Sipping on a glass of merlot right now with a big bowl of chili coming up shortly. I’ve never bolused extra in the past, and it has not caused any hiccups either… Cheers!

  15. […] day. I always look forward to cutting out of work a little early, sipping on a little bit of diabetes-curing red wine, and sitting back to let the woman who’s been cutting my hair for the last ten years perform […]

  16. […] before the meal, dig in and wash it down with some wine. Check your levels a couple hours later. Some diabetics report that they’re back to normal without a bolus after dinner and a glass of […]

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