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Can People With Diabetes Drink Beer? Is Wine Good For Them? – This is what new study says

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Alcohol consumption’s effects on health have been dubbed a double-edged sword due to its apparent ability to slash deeply in either direction — damaging or healthy, depending on how it is used.

According to a preliminary study, consuming alcohol with meals, particularly wine, is associated with a decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

“The effects of alcohol consumption on health have been described as a double-edged sword because of its apparent abilities to cut deeply in either direction – harmful or helpful, depending on how it is consumed,” says Hao Ma, the study author.

“Previous studies have focused on how much people drink and have had mixed results. Very few studies have focused on other drinking details, such as the timing of alcohol intake,”

Motor vehicle crashes, aggression, sexual risk behaviors, high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, breast cancer, liver disease, depression, suicide, accidents, alcohol abuse, and alcoholism are all associated with alcohol intake. These health concerns increase as a person’s alcohol use increases. Even at relatively modest levels of alcohol intake – less than one drink per day – the risk of some malignancies and other health issues increases.

Women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, people under the age of 21, and people with specific health issues should not drink at all.

If you drink alcohol, the most important thing for people who already do is to keep it in moderation. One glass of wine or other alcoholic beverage per day for women and up to two glasses per day for men is considered moderate consumption. According to Ma, this equates to up to 14 grams (150 ml) of wine per day for women and up to 28 grams (300 ml) of wine per day for males.

“Clinical trials have also found that moderate drinking may have some health benefits, including on glucose metabolism. However, it remains unclear whether glucose metabolism benefits translate into a reduction of type 2 diabetes,” he adds. “In our study, we sought to determine if the association between alcohol intake and risk of type 2 diabetes might differ by the timing of alcohol intake with respect to meals.”

The purpose of this study was to determine the influence of moderate drinking on new-onset type 2 diabetes in all study participants during an approximately 11-year period (between 2006 and 2010). Nearly 312,400 individuals from the UK Biobank who self-reported as habitual alcoholics had their data examined. At the time of study enrolment, none of the patients had diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or cancer. The study excluded people who reduced their alcohol use owing to illness, doctor’s recommendation, or pregnancy. The average age of the participants was around 56, with slightly more than half of the adults being female and 95 percent of the people being white.

The study found:

  • During an average of nearly 11 years of follow-up, about 8,600 of the adults in the study developed type 2 diabetes.
  • Consuming alcohol with meals was associated with a 14% lower risk of type 2 diabetes compared to consuming alcohol without eating food.
  • The potential benefit of moderate drinking on type 2 diabetes risk was evident only among the people who drank alcohol during meals, although the specific time of meals was not collected in this study.
  • The beneficial association between alcohol drinking with meals and type 2 diabetes was most common among the participants who drank wine vs. other types of alcohol.
  • Consuming wine, beer and liquor had different associations with type 2 diabetes risk. While a higher amount of wine intake was associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, a higher amount of beer or liquor was associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.

“The message from this study is that drinking moderate amounts of wine with meals may prevent type 2 diabetes if you do not have another health condition that may be negatively affected by moderate alcohol consumption and in consultation with your doctor,” Ma concludes.

According to Robert H. Eckel, M.D., FAHA, a past president of the American Heart Association (2005-2006) who was not involved in the study, the relationship between alcohol consumption and new-onset type 2 diabetes remains controversial, despite the findings of this study of healthy drinkers.

“These data suggest that it’s not the alcohol with meals but other ingredients in wine, perhaps antioxidants, that may be the factor in potentially reducing new-onset type 2 diabetes. While the type of wine, red versus white, needs to be defined, and validation of these findings and mechanisms of benefit are needed, the results suggest that if you are consuming alcohol with meals, wine may be a better choice,” says Eckel.

The majority of those who took part were self-identified white adults of European origin, which is a study constraint. It’s unclear whether the findings can be applied to other groups.

Source: It’s a preliminary study to be presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology, Prevention, Lifestyle & Cardiometabolic Health Conference 2022 between March 1– March 4, 2022.

Image Credit: Getty

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