A recent study on adults and their risk of developing prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes in conjunction with alcohol consumption showed that low or medium consumption of alcohol (beer, wine, and spirits) actually decreased the risk in women. For men, the results were a little more straightforward: the general consumption of alcohol, especially in higher amounts, increased of prediabetes risk measurably. But a new study brings into question whether or not wine, a long-standard part of many American and European diets, may actually help people with prediabetes and diabetes to improve their health.
According to the study, which was reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2015, people with diabetes who drank one glass of red or white wine a night (as opposed to a glass of mineral water) saw health benefits and an improvement in measurements associated with diabetes. Red wine drinkers, especially, saw significant improvements in both diabetes-related issues and heart health. (White wine drinkers saw an improvement in their triglyceride levels, but red wine drinkers saw an improvement in cholesterol and lipid, or fat, metabolism.) The wine drinkers overall saw that, after two years of drinking one glass of wine a night, they had fewer signs of metabolic syndrome, which can include high blood sugar and hypertension.
This study only focused on people with diabetes, and many other studies show the benefits of wine drinking on people without the disease, but there is little conclusive evidence on the effects of wine drinking on people with prediabetes. However, the health goal for those with prediabetes is to prevent the development of full-fledged diabetes. This means that efforts should focus on lowering blood glucose levels and regulating overall health to ensure proper insulin levels and pancreatic health. If regular wine consumption (especially red wine) works for those with a more severe form of the disease, it is possible that it can help those with prediabetes stave off the development of diabetes.
This study only shows promising results for those who have well-managed glucose levels. This means that those who have just been diagnosed or are not managing their disease well will not get these benefits, and wine (or any alcoholic beverage) may make glucose levels harder to control. One of the first priorities of a senior with diabetes or prediabetes is to get blood glucose levels under control, which will protect overall health. Drinking wine without regulating blood glucose and overall health can be dangerous.
The above study also noted that participants drank just one glass of red or white wine per day. That indicates the importance of moderation. Seniors with prediabetes and diabetes may not receive any benefits, and they may risk seriously endangering their health, via overindulgence. In fact, those with prediabetes will actually significantly increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by drinking heavily. Drinking moderately, controlling glucose levels, and informing doctors of regular drinking habits are important ways of making sure the benefits of wine (and not the drawbacks) are experienced.
People with diabetes should not believe that diabetes is a ban on drinking. It is a ban on excessive drinking and requires more careful planning than for people without diabetes. Choosing only one (or maybe two, but not more!) drinks a day, paired with food and water to prevent dehydration or irregularities in blood glucose, can be a perfectly healthy way to enjoy what many consider to be a very pleasurable activity. Some types of alcohol, such as red wine, are actually proven to help prevent other physical ailments such as heart disease. This is happy news for seniors with diabetes, especially those whose habits run to a glass or two of wine a week. This low, healthy consumption can actually promote physical health, and the pleasure of sipping a delicious alcoholic beverage may even help promote emotional health and happiness.
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Gepner, Y., Golan, R., Harman-Boehm, I., Henkin, Y., Schwarzfuchs, D., et al.(October 20, 2015). Effects of Initiating Moderate Alcohol Intake on Cardiometabolic Risk in Adults with Type 2 Diabetes. Annals of Internal Medicine, 163(8): 569-579. Available at http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=2456122. Retrieved April 28, 2016.
Healy, Melissa. (October 12, 2015). Cheers! For those managing diabetes, wine can help, study says. Los Angeles Times Available at http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-diabetes-wine-20151012-story.html. Retrieved April 28, 2016.
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Stevens, S. (April 25, 2013). Drinking alcohol increases prediabetes, type 2 diabetes risk. Examiner.com Available at http://www.examiner.com/article/drinking-alcohol-increases-prediabetes-type-2-diabetes-risk. Retrieved April 28, 2016.