Background: Ethanol's ability to inhibit gluconeogenesis might reduce postprandial glycemia in realistic meal settings.
Objective: The objective was to explore the effect of 3 types of alcoholic beverages consumed alone, with a meal, or 1 h before a meal on postprandial glycemia in healthy subjects.
Design: In study 1, isoenergetic (1000 kJ) servings of beer, white wine, and gin were compared with a 1000-kJ portion of white bread. In study 2, the same servings were compared with water as an accompaniment to a bread meal. In study 3, 20-g alcohol portions were served as a premeal drink. Fingertip capillary blood samples were taken at regular intervals over 2-3 h.
Results: In study 1, the mean (+/-SE) glucose scores for beer (58 +/- 11), wine (7 +/- 3), and gin (10 +/- 5) were significantly lower (P < 0.001) than those for bread (= 100). In study 2, meals consumed with beer (84 +/- 11; P = 0.03), wine (63 +/- 6; P < 0.001), and gin (80 +/- 12; P = 0.007) produced less glycemia than did the meal consumed with water (= 100). In study 3, all 3 beverages reduced the postprandial glycemic response to the subsequent meal (67 +/- 5, 75 +/- 6, and 78 +/- 4 with the beer, wine, and gin trials, respectively; P < 0.003).
Conclusion: In realistic settings, alcoholic beverage consumption lowers postprandial glycemia by 16-37%, which represents an unrecognized mechanism by which alcohol may reduce the risk of chronic disease.