Nonalcoholic Berry Wine Could Be Good For Diabetics
August 21, 2012

Nonalcoholic Berry Wine Concoction Could Possibly Benefit Diabetics

Connie K. Ho for — Your Universe Online

“You are what you eat.” This quote has long highlighted the intersection between food and health for the body. Interestingly enough, a team of investigators from the University of Illinois (U of I) recently discovered compounds in Illinois blueberry and blackberry wines that stop enzymes that target carbohydrate absorption and assimilation. They believe that the tasty drink from berry wine could be a possible drug for diabetes and could help in lowering the blood sugar of diabetic patients.

The findings were recently published in the Journal of Food Science. The publication is a science journal that contains peer-reviewed reports on original research and reviews regarding food science. It is under the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), a nonprofit scientific society that includes professionals who work in food science and food technology. IFT focuses on advancing the science of food, working to boost the health of people worldwide.

"We're thinking about a dealcoholized fermented fruit beverage that would optimize the inhibition of the alpha-amylase and alpha-glucosidase enzymes and also make use of the wines' other healthful bioactive components," explained Elvira de Mejia, a U of I professor of food chemistry and food toxicology, in a prepared statement.

The researchers looked at the nutritional value of 19 different kinds of Illinois wines and determined that the blueberry-blackberry blend was the most effective mix. The scientists began by comparing the anti-carb effects of the alpha-amylase and alpha-glucosidase enzymes with acarbose, a drug considered anti-diabetic. In this in vitro study, researchers were able to study the effects of berry fermentation at varying temperatures on the carb-degrading enzymes. The berry wine was able to contain the ability to degrade the enzymes at both room and cold temperature (four degrees Celsius).

The researchers also conducted a second study that allowed them to quantify the antioxidant, anthocyanin, and polyphenol components of blueberry and blackberry wines. They were interested in seeing how the anthocyanins could decrease inflammation, as inflammation has been related to chronic illnesses like cancer, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic disease. They experimented to better understand the berries´ impact on inflammatory cells and the anthocyanins were shown to decrease markers related to inflammatory response. As such, the scientists believe that a blend of bioactive compounds such as the one in the study could have a number of health benefits.

"Preliminary studies have indicated that anthocyanins may have a positive effect on cognition and overall brain health while protecting against some of the effects of aging, such as Alzheimer's disease and memory loss. These berries have some very intriguing components," noted de Mejia in the statement.

In moving forward with the study, the researchers hope to remove alcohol from the wines, allowing the mix of carb-degrading enzyme compounds, inflammation-fighting anthocyanins, and other beneficial bioactive ingredients to assist patients with diabetes and other chronic diseases. The group of investigators also believes that these bioactive ingredients could give additional color, flavor, and nutritional value to other prepared beverages. This would make the combination of bioactive ingredients even more useful to the food industry.