According to researchers in Denmark, drinking alcohol – three to four days per week, can reduce your risk of developing diabetes. Researchers in Denmark examined alcohol consumption patterns and found that people who drink moderately on three to four days per week are less likely to develop diabetes compared with abstainers. Wine is particularly beneficial because it is rich in compounds that help maintain blood sugar balance. The findings were published in the journal Diabetologia and the study was conducted by researchers from the University of Southern Denmark.
Diabetes arises when the body’s ability to use or make insulin is impaired. If this chronic disease is not controlled, it can result in hyperglycemia and this can cause serious damage to various organs in the body especially the eyes, heart, kidneys, nerves and blood vessels. The proportion of people living with diabetes worldwide has risen from 4.7% in 1980 to .5% in 2014.
In 2015, 1.6 million deaths were directly attributed to diabetes and high blood sugar was responsible for another 2.2 million deaths.
So Can Alcohol Lower Diabetes Risk?
Studies that have explored the relationship between alcohol consumption and the risk of developing diabetes have established that moderate to light consumption is linked to lower risk compared to abstaining. However, most of these studies have only examined the volume of consumption without looking at how the volume of consumption is spread over time.
The Danish researches also noted that although other studies explored drinking patterns such as number of drinking days each week and the effects of various types of alcoholic, their findings were inconclusive. Therefore, they decided to examine the link between alcohol consumption patterns and the risk of developing diabetes in the Danish population. The researchers analyzed responses from a total of 70,551 participants (41,847 women and 28,704 men) without diabetes. All the participants had answered questions about health and lifestyle and provided detailed reports abouts their alcohol drinking habits.
The participants were keenly followed until 2012 (for an average of 4.9 years) during which the researchers found out from the national diabetes register that 87 women and 859 men had developed diabetes.
Yes – The Types of alcoholic Drink Matters!
From the information, the researchers also determined drinking patterns, average weekly intake, consumption of different beverages and binge drinking. The team asked participants about their consumption patterns of specific types of beverages and their frequency of consuming alcohol.
Therefore, the researchers were able to classify participants into categories:
- current and lifetime abstainers;
- people who drank on 5 to 7 days each week;
- on 3 to 4 days per week;
- on 1 to 2 days each week;
- and on less than 1 day each week.
A standard alcoholic drink in Denmark contains 12 grams of pure alcohol. This is less than the standard drink in the U.S which is 0.6 ounces (14 grams) of ethanol. The team also assessed binge drinking (drinking 5 or more drinks in one session). Binge drinking was classified into 3 categories:
- more than one day per week,
- less than 1 day per week,
- and never.
The team also categorized drinking patterns for 3 types of alcoholic drinks: spirits, beer and wine. These drinks were assessed as: 7 or more drinks per week; between 1 and 6 drinks per week; and less than 1 drink each week. However, for men this category was further divided into: 7 to 13 drinks per week, and 14 or more alcoholic drinks each week.
When analyzing the data to determine the link with diabetes, the team adjusted the information to make allowance for the effect of other aspects that might influence it. Some of these factors include:
- education level,
- BMI (Body Mass Index),
- blood pressure (previous or current),
- leisure activities,
- family history of diabetes,
- and type of diet (such as fiber levels, fish, vegetables and fruit).
The study showed that participants who consumed moderate amounts of alcohol in terms of average consumption per week had the lowest diabetes risk.
Women who drank 9 drinks per week had a 58% lower risk of developing diabetes, and men who consumed an average of 14 alcoholic drinks each week had 43% lower diabetes risk compared with abstainers.
After analyzing drinking patterns, the researchers also found that participants who drank alcohol on three to four days each week had the lowest risk of diabetes. For women, the risk of developing diabetes was 32% lower and for men it was 27% lower compared with participants who only consumed alcohol on less than one day per week.
However, analysis of binge drinking data did not show any clear link to the risk of developing diabetes. The Danish researchers say that this might be due to the low number of participants who actually reported binge drinking. This made it difficult for the team to produce meaningful statistical result.
So – Which Alcoholic Drink is Best for Diabetes?
When it comes to the type of alcoholic drink, just as previous studies have found out, the team also discovered that high to moderate wine consumption is linked to a significantly lower diabetes risk.
They attributed this to the fact that red wine contains polyphenols, which help control blood sugar.
Compared with consuming less than one each week, drinking at least 7 drinks of wine per week is linked to a 25% to 30% lower risk of diabetes.
On the other hand, in terms of drinking beer, the study showed that men who drink between 1 and 6 per week had a 21% lower risk of diabetes, compared with men who drink less than one drink per week. However, for women, the study showed no ties to the risk of diabetes.
In terms of spirit consumption, the team established that there’s no significant tie between the amount of spirits men drank and the risk of developing diabetes. The study also found that women who consume 7 or more drinks of spirits each week had an 83% higher risk of diabetes compared with those who had less than one drink each week.
These finding suggest that the frequency of drinking alcohol is linked with the risk of developing diabetes. Moreover, consuming alcohol over 3 to 4 days is linked with the lowest diabetes risk.