Some Merlot for Your Diabetes

Metabolic changes leading to type 2 diabetes may be prevented by red wine

(RxWiki News) Red wine has been shown to have certain health benefits, including protection against heart disease. Now, it appears that a compound found in red wine may protect against type 2 diabetes.

A compound called resveratrol may protect against harmful changes that lead to type 2 diabetes in obese people. Such harmful changes include insulin insensitivity (when the body no longer responds to the hormone that controls blood sugar) and high blood pressure.

"Resveratrol could become a way to fight diabetes."

Past studies have shown that resveratrol helps obese mice live longer by improving aspects of their health such as blood sugar control. Patrick Schrauwen, Ph.D., of Masstricht University in the Netherlands, and colleagues wanted to see if the compound had similar effects in humans.

Before developing diabetes, a person's body will go through various metabolic changes - meaning that the way the body processes food and energy will change. The body may no longer respond to insulin (a hormone that regulates blood sugar); fat may build up in the liver; blood sugar levels may rise.

The earlier studies on mice showed that resveratrol protected obese mice from many of these metabolic changes.

To see if the compound works for humans, the researchers gave 11 obese men a daily dose of resveratrol or placebo for about four weeks. None of the men had a family history of diabetes or any other endocrine disorder.

The men who received resveratrol showed many signs of improved metabolic health. In fact, the researchers write that resveratrol may lead to metabolic changes similar to the effects of reducing calories or endurance training.

The study showed that men who took a daily resveratrol supplement improved many measures of their metabolic health, including a reduction in blood pressure and fat in the liver.

The researchers also saw improved blood sugar control in those who took resveratrol. Better blood sugar control suggests that resveratrol has an effect on insulin sensitivity.

This study is the first to test resveratrol on humans. While the findings are promising, much more research needs to be done before the compound can be used as a treatment. The study size is so small, and so short-term, that it is hard to tell if the effects would be the same for more people over the long-term.

Additionally, the effects of resveratrol were similar to eating healthy and getting the proper amount of exercise. As such, it may not be necessary to use a medical supplement when one could take other measures to get the same results.

The authors write that future studies should look at the long-term effects of different doses of resveratrol.

The study appears in the journal Cell Metabolism.

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Review Date: 
November 3, 2011