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Research Summary

Drinking May Lower Postprandial Glycemia

Moderate drinking has been associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. One possible explanation for this lower risk is that drinking may reduce postprandial glycemia. Researchers in Australia assessed the association between postprandial glycemia and drinking beer, white wine, or gin under 3 conditions: without a meal, with a carbohydrate meal, and 1 hour before a carbohydrate meal. Subjects, who included 38 healthy college students (10 in the first condition, 10 in the second, and 18 in the third), had fingertip blood samples taken at baseline and at regular intervals over 2–3 hours.

  • Fasting glucose concentrations did not significantly differ among subjects.
  • Mean glucose scores (which summarized glucose response over a 2–3 hour period) were significantly lower for
    • isoenergetic portions of beer (58), wine (7), and gin (10) than for bread (100, an arbitrary reference score);
    • meals consumed with 2 typical glasses of wine (63) or gin (80), but not beer, than meals consumed with water (100);
    • meals preceded by 1 hour with about 2  drinks of beer (67), wine (75), or gin (78) than meals preceded with water (100).


This study in healthy subjects demonstrated that drinking approximately 2 drinks of beer, wine, or gin with, or within an hour before, a high-carbohydrate meal limited the rise in glucose that occurs after carbohydrate ingestion. Since higher glucose levels are associated with higher risk of diabetes and coronary heart disease, the demonstrated decrease in postprandial glycemia may be another mechanism by which moderate alcohol consumption lowers the risk of chronic diseases.

R. Curtis Ellison, MD


Brand-Miller JC, Fatima K, Middlemiss C, et al. Effect of alcoholic beverages on postprandial glycemia and insulinemia in lean, young, healthy adults. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;85(6):1545–1551.