A Daily Beer Might Help Keep Diabetes in Check, Study Says

There is no argument that drinking too much alcohol can have seriously bad implications on your health, but a new study warns that light drinking might actually provide a benefit, even for diabetics.

Yes, it is typically recommended that those who have diabetes should avoid alcohol because of the way it negatively effects blood glucose levels. But this new study out of the Southeast University, in China, has determined there is a different relationship between this disease and light (to moderate) alcohol consumption. 

To make this assessment, the researchers defined light-to-moderate drinking as consuming 20g (or less) of alcohol on a daily basis. This amounts to approximately 1.5 servings of beer (12 to 16 oz, depending on ABV), one large glass of wine (more than 6 oz) or roughly one shot of a traditional spirit like vodka or gin (no more than 100 proof).

With these amounts set, the team then looked at three different databases. These databases contained data from 10 trials involving more than 570 diabetic adults; all of these trials showed that alcohol has a positive effect on glucose and fat metabolism.  Out of this, then, the researchers say there is a definite link between consuming alcohol and lower levels of insulin and triglycerides (blood fats).  Higher insulin and triglyceride levels, of course, are common to diabetic patients.   

But when you minimize the amount of alcohol, they found, the effect was not the same.  In fact, the researchers found that light-to-moderate drinking had “no statistically significant effect” on fasting blood glucose levels, cholesterol (good or bad), or glycated haemoglobin (which is a measure of glucose control).

In a statement, the researchers note, “Regardless of the effects on metabolism shown by this analysis, advice from various diabetes organizations including Diabetes UK remains that people with T1D or T2D (type 1 or type 2 diabetes) need to be careful with alcohol consumption.”

Again, the researchers stress that drinking alcohol can result in hypoglyaemic episode. This is a common condition among diabetics, one which occurs when blood sugars fall to significantly lower levels.  Of course, they also warn that too much drinking can lead to weight gain and a host of other health issues. 

The statement goes on to say, “Larger studies are needed to further evaluate the effects of alcohol consumption on blood sugar management, especially in patients with type 2 diabetes.”

The results of this study have not yet been published but were presented at the Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, in Barcelona, Spain.