Diabetes and Wine and Expired Test Strips

Welcome back to another edition of our weekly diabetes information column, Request D’Mine, hosted by veteran type 1 and diabetes author Wil Dubois in New Mexico.

This week, Wil takes on a trio of brief questions “from our mailbag.” If you’re considering the validity of expired sugar strips, the diabetes pros & cons of wine-drinking, and also a much more serious question about the need for insulin, read on. Ask DMine Mailbag logo

Carol, type 2 from Wisconsin, asks: If sugar test strips are just four years old, can they give an unusually large outcome?

Wil@Ask D’Mine answers: Like milk, test strips have an expiration date for good reason: They really do go bad. And like milk, obviously you can push the expiration date.

A glucose test strip is much similar to a living thing than the usual system. Sure, it is made up of metals, plastics, and assorted substances, but a major part of all sugar test strips is enzymes. Enzymes are proteins that regulate biochemical responses, plus they only “live” so long.

Once the enzymes in a test strip begin to break down, then there is just no telling what will happen to the precision of the results the strip reports to the meter. As different strip manufacturers use various enzymes in their recipes, old strips respond differently from brand to brand. Some operate high. Some operate low. Some vary from strip to strip in the batch. More importantly, some strips suffer precision problems only in particular glucose ranges as they age. The strip may give good results in ordinary glucose ranges, but give faulty readings in the low or high ranges–and I’m sure that you could see how dangerous that could be.

All of that said, there is a buffer zone the strip manufacturers put in to diminish the risks. It’s not as if the strip will conk out the day after its expiration date. But the older the strips get, the more likely you are to have problems together. As for me, I won’t use a test strip that is more than three months beyond its expiration date.  

Milk? Sure, stretch it weekly. Test strips? Go for it, stretch those poor boys.

But anything in the fridge that is four years old needs to go in the trash.

Felix, type 2 from California, asks: Is Rosé wine good for diabetics?

Wil@Ask D’Mine answers: All perfumes are great for diabetics. Salud! That said, as you’ll soon see, some wines are far much better than others. But first a disclaimer from our legal group, who want me to point out that too much of a great thing is not a good thing, particularly when it comes to alcohol. Obviously, seven bottles of Rosé a day wouldn’t be helpful for anybody, diabetic or not.

Yet in small amounts, there is an whole vineyard of proof that any sort of alcohol, particularly wine, can have a positive health benefit–particularly when it comes to your heart.

While all alcoholic beverages help lower bad cholesterol, milk has another secret weapon known as , which may shield the body from cardiovascular disease and some cancers. It could even decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. And as an additional benefit, seemingly resveratrol increases glucose uptake into fat cells, so in theory, drinking wine could help glucose control.

Resveratrol in wine comes from the grape’s skins (the chemical is actually part of this grape vine’s immune system), and also how much resveratrol helps it be from the skin into the bottle is dependent upon the sort of wine, as a result of the way in which different varietals are made. Deep reds such as Malbecs and Cabs have the most resveratrol because they are fermented in contact with the grape skins. Your Rosé has some, but not a lot, since Rosés are only in contact with the skins for a brief time during the wine-making process. Whites have nearly none, since they are fermented in the grape skins.

So your weapon of choice is middle of the road.

Obviously, your heart is only one part of the diabetes puzzle. How do the various wines affect your blood sugar? Fortunately for us winos, wine is really low-carb generally, but all wines operate the taste gamut from “dry” to “sweet” As its name implies, a sweet wine has a greater carb load than the usual dry wine. Generally speaking, reds operate the driest, Rosés run midst of the road, and whites are the sweetest.

I’m fond of dry reds, and I don’t need to bolus for them.

So for maximum health benefit, if you are drinking wine, then a heavy, dry red is your best option. It has the least sugar and also the most resveratrol. But you know what? Should you prefer Rosé, you need to stick with Rosé. Since the best medicine is one you enjoy taking.

At least when it comes to the wine Rx.

Pradyut, type 1 in India, writes: I’m diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and tired with carrying insulin. My age is 26 years. Can I survive without taking any insulin? insulin bottles

Wil@Ask D’Mine answers: I’m sorry to say I simply tripped over the language barrier and fell flat on my face. You state that you are “tired of carrying insulin.” Does that imply that since taking insulin you’ve been operating badly drained; or that you’re just tired of taking shots? Either way we must find a solution, because–no–just as a kind 1, you cannot survive without nourishment.

If you are feeling physically tired, it suggests to me that you are not taking enough insulin. High blood glucose can make people drowsy, while I’ve never heard of insulin making somebody drowsy. Obviously, you could be the first! If your sugar levels are OK, you may ask your doc to change you to a different brand of insulin simply to rule out that is it is not some sort of response to a specific formula that is leaving your tired. (You should also get your thyroid assessed.)

If you are simply sick and tired of carrying insulin, well, I believe we’ve all been in that ship at one time or another. The ship’s name is the S.S. Burnout, and it is no luxury lining. My best tips for treating therapy burnout is to shake your treatment. Do something different. Get an insulin tracking app. Or change the way you take insulin. If you are using a syringe and vial, get a pencil. Or if you are on pens, then change to syringe and vial for a while. Speak with your physician about an insulin pump. Do something, anything, to simply change how you take your insulin.

I’m sorry, but just like the rest of us T1s, barring a major breakthrough, you’re stuck with insulin for quite a while. The best that you can do is dress this up in a different outfit–just to break the monotony.

This is not a medical advice column. We’re PWDs publicly and openly sharing the wisdom of our accumulated experiences — our been-there-done-that understanding in the trenches. But we are not MDs, RNs, NPs, PAs, CDEs, or partridges in pear trees. Bottom line: we are only a small part of your total prescription. You still require the expert guidance, therapy, and maintenance of a licensed medical professional.


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This content is made for Diabetes Mine, a customer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and does not adhere to Healthline’s editorial guidelines. To learn more about Healthline’s venture with Diabetes Mine, please click here.

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