Diabetes Self-Management Blog

Here are two prescriptions I can go for: Drink some wine; eat some salad dressing. Recent studies show that 1–2 alcoholic drinks a day appear to cut the risk of diabetes by 45% and that 2 tablespoons of vinegar before a meal lowers blood glucose levels after the meal.

Vinegar seems to increase insulin sensitivity and slow the rate at which sugar is absorbed from a meal into the bloodstream. So it helps people with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Previous studies have shown that vinegar is associated with reduced blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well.

Most of these studies come from Europe. A Greek study published in Diabetes Care says that we do not know how vinegar reduces blood glucose. Vinegar may delay gastric emptying, block simple carbohydrates from breaking down into sugar, and/or stimulate liver and muscles to soak up more glucose.

This is actually nothing new. Studies have shown that vinegar improves insulin sensitivity in people with Type 2 or insulin resistance. Now we know it helps people with Type 1 as well.

But vinegar is not that easy to take straight or dissolved in water. Probably the best way for most people is to mix it with other flavors and use it as a salad dressing or on cooked vegetables.

Maybe the alcohol prescription would be more fun. An article from Reuters news service reports on a Dutch study of 35,000 people. People who had one or two alcoholic drinks a day had 45% less chance of developing Type 2 diabetes, compared to teetotalers. Forty-five percent is a pretty big benefit from drinking a glass of wine or liquor!

This result has been seen before, but scientists refused to credit the alcohol. They theorized that the moderate drinkers might live healthier lifestyles in other ways. The Dutch study suggests other lifestyle factors do not explain the findings, because “the lower risk was seen among men and women whose diabetes risk was already relatively low because of their weight and lifestyle habits — namely, not smoking, eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise.” Since even those who were living relatively healthy lives saw the benefit, the drinking seems to be the most likely candidate for the source of their better health. The study was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Moderate drinking also helps arthritis. Another Reuters article reports on a Swiss study of 2,900 adults with rheumatoid arthritis. The study found that, “light-to-moderate drinkers showed slower progression in their joint damage compared with non-drinkers. Heavy drinkers, on the other hand, showed the greatest progression.” The subjects were followed over an average of four years. The study was reported in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism.

What’s the Connection?
I have to think the alcohol and vinegar effects are related. Alcohol and vinegar both come from fermented plant matter. In moderate amounts, they seem to make the body use carbohydrates more efficiently, and possibly to reduce inflammation. This seems to be a benefit for people who eat much plant-based food. There must be some kind of evolutionary connection here, but I don’t know what it is. Maybe you guys can figure it out.

We don’t need to know the whys of these findings to make them work for us. The cardiac benefits of moderate drinking have been reported many times. According to the Mayo Clinic, moderate drinking means two drinks a day for men 65 and under, one drink a day for women or men over 66. Mayo says drinking more than that puts you at risk for certain types of cancer, liver problems, and heart failure. (Editor’s Note: Additionally, because of the risk of alcoholism and other health conditions associated with drinking alcohol, most health experts currently do not recommend that nondrinkers take up moderate drinking for the sake of potential health benefits.)

It doesn’t seem to matter if the alcohol comes in the form of liquor, wine, or beer. They’re all good, if you don’t overdo it. Some studies hint that red wine may be best, but no one is sure.

A similar thing may apply to vinegar. Apple cider vinegar gets all the publicity for being a natural treatment for almost any problem, but some studies use other kinds of vinegar, so it might not make a difference which one you use.

If you can’t drink, perhaps because of a history of alcoholism, you might try resveratrol tablets. Resveratrol is found in the skin of grapes and may account for part of the health benefits of wine.

If you don’t want to have vinegar, you can take vinegar capsules. A Mendosa.com reader named Renee Gerger says, “Vinegar pills have changed my blood sugar control in a positive manner…I have dawn syndrome and by taking two pills at bedtime I have eliminated it completely. I now have normal readings in the a.m. and most of the day.” Renee said she has been able to reduce her repaglinide (brand name Prandin) by taking the vinegar capsules.

I’m seriously planning to try these treatments. I’ve already got my vinegar (balsamic). I’m going wine shopping tomorrow. Do you think I’m wasting my time?

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Comments
  1. I’ve been using Bragg brand raw apple cider vinegar for 5 or 6 years and have nothing but positive things to say about it. It’s been in the 90’s here in Vermont the last few days (with no AC) so I decided to drink a glass of AC vinegar (1t/8ozs H20 with 5 drops of stevia) every hour or so and it really helps keep me cooler. Maybe that was why my blood sugar hovered around 70 yesterday and I had a difficult time getting it to come up with my normal OJ. Some health food stores may carry premade Bragg brand AC vinegar/juice drinks that are low in carbs (5 carbs for 8 ozs) and sweetened with stevia.

    Posted by David |
  2. I used vinegar for a few years now. White or apple cider work for me, but balsamic does not. I believe it is because balsamic has a fair amount of sugar in it that kind of cancels out most of the vinegar’s good effects on blood sugar levels.

    Posted by Joe |
  3. I’ve loved cider vinegar all my life and was very happy when I heard that it can lower my BG. I’m not sure how necessary it is to get a full 2 tablespoons before a meal; the articles I read didn’t state that any other quantity was tested. I’ve always liked to have a good spoonful of vinegar in the morning; you’ve reminded me that it’s a good thing to do before every meal. A good cider vinegar like Musselman’s with a good extra virgin olive oil makes a fantastic and very healthful salad dressing (1:2 or 2:3 ratio). In some countries it’s fashionable to have such a green salad before dinner, which might be more palatable for most folks. You can also have the vinegar in water - again, this is not something new, just something that’s less commonly done these days.

    Posted by Deb |
  4. I grew up in farm country, where the Hot Day Drink was drunk throughout the year. A glug of apple cider vinegar, a spoonful of honey and the rest of the glass full of water. It’s refreshing, cooling, thirts——thirst-quencing, and a habit I enjoy. I use Braggs-s–if you’re going to drink vinegar, it should be the tastiest vinegar you should fine-d. Try a few different ones.

    Posted by Juli |
  5. If your blood sugar is 70 why take orange juice> 70-100 normal

    Posted by CDE |
  6. Just wanted to pass along something as I have been using vinegar, AC vinegar (ACV from now on) in fact, to help stop my iced tea I make every day from clouding (with no success I might add…d’oh!!) and also to reduce the tannins which it does seem to help. But I noticed something, my BG levels drop rather significantly, for me anyway, when I began this a bit over a week ago.

    I am using Victoza at the 1.8mg dose along with 2000mg metformin over the course of the day. This alone was working wonders. For about 12-days now after a 10-day titration to the 1.8mg dose. It has been great and my BG was in the mid-to-high 90s since moving to the 1.8mg dose. BUT, when I began using the ACV in each pot of tea I brewed up, my BG dropped into the 80s, which thrilled me no end and I was already pleased with the 90s. And it seems to be repeatable. I had to try a few things along the way but I will outline what I did.

    My normal tea consists of using 6-tea bags for a 50oz coffee pot. I am sure any brand of tea will work but here is what I use 3-bags of Tazo Awake tea and three bags of Tazo Chai tea (just means spiced and you CAN just add the spices yourself to the coffee maker –or right in the pot since the whole spice might matter– and use 6-bags of your fav black tea total/omitting the Chai bags). I put the tea bags in the pot and just let the hot water drip into the pot with the warmer on. Mind my coffee maker is the consumer model Bunn coffee maker that costs about $100 at walmart and puts out a 180F flow of water even after 3-yrs of use (got tired of a new fancy electronic coffeee maker ever year or so, best decision….ever!!) Anyway, hot water might be significant or not, I dunno. I then leave the pot on the burner for a few hours to let it get good and strong. Then take it off, let it cool to room temp and add about 1/4-cup of the ACV (not to worry it will not taste like vinegar). An aside, I did not see the benefits when I added the ACV to the tea while still hot/warm but again I am not sure it was not something else. Anyway, I then put an amount of pure stevia into the bottom of a 46oz bottle I use for tea, add some cold water to fill, cover and shake the bottle. Put it in the fridge to cool…next day I have a fresh cold bottle of tea for the day.

    When I drink the tea I find adding a slice of lime or lemon really complements the flavors and that the tea itself or maybe even the lemon or lime, help with that anise/licorice taste that stevia has….but I drink the full 46oz every day though I usually dilute it at least 40% to not only make it last, but well, tone it down a bit because I make it strong. Like I mentioned I drink almost the whole pot most days so I also get plenty of water this way as well.

    So, I have had my BG levels for the past 7-days in the 84-95 range with the same diet and daily routine. I also no longer feel hypo when I hit the >=100. For reference my A1C on 04/04 was 9.8 and on May 3rd it was 8.8, lab and home test done at the same time (diet and waay too much metformin alone got me down a lot). I assumed the cinnamon in the chai tea might be the reason but reading here and a couple other places this evening I suspect the ACV might help as well. I can also relate that reviewing my logs, the days I drank no tea of this sort my BG was in the 95-108 range (pre- & postprandial, same for the other measurements) which are fine by me after under a month on my Victoza combo…but something in that tea seems to have an effect. I am going to keep trying it out. I happen to live near Santa Barbara when they make the Bragg ACV so I can get it at a reasonable price locally but I am not sure it matters even though I am very pro-organic because the major genetic food manglers in the US are grabbing onto the whole non-GMO Organic food bandwagon and seem to be slowly eroding the traditional definitions as they have done with food for the past 100-yrs.

    Anyway, I should aslo add that thanks to the Victoza I have also lost a whopping 35lbs this month…I began on May 6th at 258lbs and I am at 228lbs as of this AM, May 27th. I want to just lose another 20 to be under my old “playing weight” of my 20s & 30s (50mumble now though). Mind I have also dropped to a diet that always worked for me when I was in my 20s & 30s which is a low carb 900-1200cal/day diet. And nope it has never been a problem and I was a very active athlete, not so much now…oh, yeah, I have been doing exactly ZERO exercise this month…I have RA and in the midst of a rather nasty flare period. So I feel very lucky….so far anyway… ;)

    Anyway, just my anecdotal contribution to the idea of using vinegar to aid in BG control…YMMV but I bet it will help…sure can’t hurt…

    Posted by brecklundin |
  7. Hmmm…very interesting. I have used apple cider vinegar & EVOO and a little mustard as a salad dressing. I have even gulped down a couple of tablespoons of the vinegar, and it really isn’t that bad, but I had forgotten if it was before or after meals to use it. I am going to get more serious about using vinegar before meals. I am finding so many uses for vinegar. I helps with skin problem like eczema, dandruff, and numerous other things. I think I read somewhere it will even kill weeds! Now I’m wondering that if I will be eating something such as ice cream or anything sweet or high carb, will the apple cider vinegar work? Guess I’ll just have to give it a try, starting this evening. Wish I liked red wine, but at 74, don’t need to learn that now. I am on no meds, use a low carb diet and my A1c about 3 months ago was 6. But I can’t get the weight to budge; I’d love to lose about 20-30#.
    Betty

    Posted by Betty |
  8. I have been using vinegar before meals for many years. It makes all difference in the world for keeping blood sugars in control after meals. I have told many diabetics about this, many of them do not believe that it works. It does work. Taking actual vinegar works best, but when I can not do that I take vinegar pills which work nearly as good. I get my vinegar tablets at Swansons.

    Fred

    Posted by Fred |
  9. This is interesting. I have recently started drinking 2 tablespoons of vinegar and 1 tablespoon of honey in the morning before I eat. I was doing this to help with weight lose. At my last doctor visit, my A1c level had dropped considerably and my blood glucose readings were close to the normal range. It will be interesting to find out at my next visit what the numbers are. I noticed a definite improvement when I tested at home, but the lab numbers will be the interesting ones. Who would have thought that the vinegar may have been doing the trick? Mom always swore by Apple Cider Vinegar, who knew that mom knew best!

    Posted by Vicki |
  10. i’m glad i stumbled onto this page, i’m going to try the vinegar before my meals. i love sliced cucumbers and cold vinegar in a bowl but was unaware that it might help lower my blood sugar. i’ll start eating more of this before dinner.

    Posted by kelly |
  11. Thanks so much on this info on using apple cider vinegar. I have been diagnosed with Type 2 but not on meds of any type yet. Just trying to control with watching my carbs. In the past few weeks I’ve noticed my BG level has been going higher and I want to watch my diet better. So I am putting the vinegar on my shopping list to try. I like the idea of green salad with vinegar/olive oil but may try it in my iced tea also. Can’t hurt!

    Posted by Linda Martin |
  12. I have a problem with “dawn syndrome”. It has plagued me for several years. I try to be compliant with diet recommendations, even not eating fruit desserts or carbs/protein for a snack for the evening meal(s). Nothing has put a dent into my morning readings - thus subsequent
    A1c readings are effected by DS.

    I am hoping to have some success with the vinegar. I hardly ever have a salad without oil and vinegar as a dressing. I know the article suggests use of Apple Cider - but I love the taste of red wine vinegar. I think I have a plan - apple cider before breakfast and lunch and red wine before dinner. And I certainly will try the Tea approach as well. I live on Ice tea or hot tea for that matter. Thank you for such an informative and perhaps a life changing article.

    Posted by Shirley |
  13. ok, apple cider vinegar..I am game for an experiment.. Please advise the directions for “trying to injest” plain apple cider vinegar to lower BG numbers.

    I am at the beginning of my journey of diagnosed diabeties. I have lost some weight only 20 lbs with another 45 lbs to go. BG still high but is coming down via excercise & diet. Any suggestions would be helpful or other diabetic forums to seek out for my questions.
    Robert

    Posted by Robert |
  14. Just a note on Balsamic vinegar- it is often made of a reduction of fruit juices with added vinegar to create a sweet sour concoction- but for the diabetic it might be too sweet and might be more harmful than beneficial- The real Balsamic Vinegar from Modena Italy is prohibitively expensive- up to hundreds of dollars for a small bottle.
    I take a half glass of water with a tablespoon or so of organic cider vinegar. I actually enjoy the taste- i think the benefits are good, but maybe I need to take it before bed- I usually do this in the morning and my morning sugars are usually a bit high.
    thanks for the info. PV

    Posted by paul v |
  15. I’M A 63YR. OLD WOMAN, I’M A DIABETIC FOR OVER 20YRS.I HAVE BEEN ON MEDS, AND NOW I WOULD LIKE TO TRY THE APPLE CIDER VINEGAR SOLUTION.
    MY QUESTION IS BY TAKING ACV WILL I LOSE WEIGHT?
    I WEIGHT 120LBS. I’M 5′3.I DON’T NEED TO LOSE ANY WEIGHT AT ALL.
    THANK YOU
    CLARA

    Posted by CLARA TORRES |
  16. I took Raw ACV pretty regularly for about 2 years in 2009-2010 my A1C were 5.4 - 6.1 mostly in the 5’s during that time, so I believed I was not diabetic.

    I stopped taking the ACV for 1 year now and during that time my numbers have been 7.1 - 7.7 I forgot about using the Vinegar, I was using it for weight loss back then and not BG control.

    I started Metformin 1 month ago 500 mg every day and most days 1,000 (I can’t tolerate 1,000 that’s why I have been sporadic on the that amount per day, but the 500 I’m OK with. My numbers have not improved after 1 month, my fasting BG this morning is higher than it was before I began the Met.

    So I remembered about the vinegar and how good my A1C’s were during that time…so I will start taking ACV again and continue with the 500 Metformin for 1 month and see if my BG levels have improved. If there is a significant improvement, I will ditch the Metformin all together.

    I will post my results.

    Posted by MMB |
  17. I am 48yrs old and was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes 15 months ago. My medications have increased steadily and up to recently I have been taking 3000mg per day of Metformin and 60mg per day of Diamicron along with statins,BP medication and other medication to combat the side effects of all the other medications! My specialist is now considering insulin. In desperation I have been researching articles to find alternatives. This is how I stumbled on ACV and decided I had nothing to lose! I have been on ACV for 6 weeks. I take it 3 times per day, 2tbs with water before lunch, dinner and before bed. My BG readings prior to using ACV were averaging between 9.0 and 18.0. Since taking ACV my BG readings are down to as low as 3.8’s. I mostly get readings between 4.0’s to 5.0’s before meals and sit around 7.0 to 7.6 two hours after meals. I have cut down 1000mg per day of Metformin and am still getting great BG results. I have also lost 4kg in the past 6 weeks and feel really well (something I haven’t felt in a long time). For some reason my BG would spike overnight and I would have high BG in the mornings (usually 9.0 to 11.0). It only took 2 days of using ACV and I started to get results in the mornings of around 5.0. Oh,and another great side effect I have found is that ACV cleared up a yeast infection in just 2 days that had been driving me crazy for 2yrs. I can’t belive the results I have been getting through using something as simple as ACV, but the proof is in my BG readings. I hope sharing this gives inspiration for other diabetics to give it a go.

    Posted by T Hayes |
  18. In type 2 diabetes, studies have shown that hepatic glycogenolysis (secretion of glucose into the bloodstream by the liver) is three times higher than in healthy non-diabetic subjects. (http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/49/12/2063.full.pdf)

    The liver sees alcohol as a poison and processes it above all other functions. The liver ceases glycogenolysis so long as alcohol is present in the bloodstream. As a pre-diabetic who tests my blood sugar with a meter, I have found that my blood glucose readings are approxmiately 20% lower soon after consuming alcohol.

    It is my guess that alcohol is the primary agent responsible for lower rates of diabetes in those who drink 1-2 glasses per day.

    Posted by Robert |
  19. I’ve just had my first 2 tbs of vinegar with water and some sweetner. Thanks to you! It’s too early to say it helps me but I hope it will :)

    Posted by moonfairy |
  20. What about vinegar and yeast-thrush, the good bacteria I mean, I have heard it is beneficial, sugar is the main friend of yeast

    Posted by Ben |
  21. I see all the positive things about Apple Cider Vinigar here and I am just starting to try it today. I was taking Metformin but it gave me such awful stomach pains I couldn’t stand to take it anymore. Since I have stopped Metformin no stomach issues at all. I was on 1000mg a day. I tried to tell my doctor but all she wanted to do was increase it and I said like NO NO NO …anyways I am going to trust this stuff and see if it will work for me like so many of you others. Just a question though anyone else on Metformin ??? had side effects of the stomach ? Be so interested to know this.

    Posted by Wendy |

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