Light drinking might help those with type 2 diabetes, study suggests

While too much alcohol can have a negative effect on blood glucose levels for people with diabetes, light drinking might actually be beneficial, according to new report.

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Researchers from Southeast University in China conducted a study to determine the relationship between the disease and light to moderate alcohol consumption. They presented their findings at a recent meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.

For the assessment, they defined light to moderate drinking as 20 grams or less of alcohol daily, which is equivalent to 1.5 cans of beer, a large glass of wine or about a shot of a spirit like vodka or gin.

The team then explored three databases. They discovered 10 trials, involving 575 diabetic adults, that showed a positive effect of alcohol on glucose and fat metabolism. They said there was a link between drinking and lower levels of insulin and triglyceride (blood fats). High levels of triglyceride and insulin are both indicators of diabetes.

However, they noted light to moderate drinking had “no statistically significant effect” on fasting blood glucose levels, bad cholesterol, good cholesterol or glycated haemoglobin, a measure of glucose control.“

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

They stressed drinking can lead to a hypoglycemic episode, a common condition among diabetics that occurs when blood sugar gets too low. They also said too much drinking can cause weight gain and other health issues.

The scientists now hope to continue their investigations to solidify their findings.

"Larger studies," they concluded, "are needed to further evaluate the effects of alcohol consumption on blood sugar management, especially in patients with type 2 diabetes."

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