Diabetes: The alcoholic drink found to be ‘beneficial’ for blood sugar

This Morning: Type 2 diabetes can be 'devastating' says expert

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Type 2 diabetes means the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the insulin it does produce is not taken up by the cells. This results in high blood sugar levels because insulin is responsible for regulating them. However, there is an alternative way to tame high blood sugar levels: through your diet. With this in mind, research has found some surprisingly beneficial items.

Several studies have found red wine contains properties that lower blood sugar levels.

In a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, these benefits extended to white wine.

In order to test the influence of wine on people with diabetes, Professor Iris Shai of Ben Gurion University recruited about 225 people who already had elevated blood sugar, and they agreed to follow a Mediterranean style diet for two years.

Everyone in the study was eating the same mix of foods but when it came to what to drink, some began drinking one glass of red wine per day, some began drinking one glass of white wine per day and others drank mineral water.

By the end of the study, “we found that a glass of red wine with dinner can improve the cardiovascular health of people with Type 2 diabetes”, the professor said.

In particular, Professor Shai found that compared to people who drank mineral water with dinner, the wine drinkers — both those who drank white and red — benefited from improvements in blood sugar control.

The effects are not huge, but physician Christopher Wilcox of Georgetown University Medical Center – who was not involved in the study – said they could be significant.

Speaking to NPR about the study, he said: “One glass of alcohol per day had these admittedly modest but worthwhile benefits.”

Red wine has mainly come under the spotlight for its blood sugar-lowering potential, but this research suggests its the alcohol itself that’s of benefit, said Doctor Wilcox.

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“Since both red and white wine were beneficial in terms of blood sugar lowering — it does seem to rather neatly and very cleverly — tie the benefit in probably to alcohol rather than wine itself.”

It’s important to note that the benefits of alcohol are quickly outweighed by the risks if you exceed the recommendations.

To keep health risks from alcohol to a low level, both men and women are advised not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week.

Also, a glass of red will never substitute “good control of blood glucose with one of the diabetic medicines”, Doctor Wilcox added.

What accounts for this effect?

According to Diabetes.co.uk, red wine lowers blood sugars by “stopping the intestines absorbing glucose”.

Recently, plenty of researchers have become very interested in the effects of red wine on weight loss and blood glucose levels.

A number of studies reckon it could be beneficial.

That said, drinking too much of it can cause problems (such as a build-up of fat around the liver), so everything in moderation.

Type 2 diabetes – do you have it?

Many people have type 2 diabetes without realising. This is because symptoms do not necessarily make you feel unwell.

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:

  • Peeing more than usual, particularly at night
  • Feeling thirsty all the time
  • Feeling very tired
  • Losing weight without trying to
  • Itching around your penis or vagina, or repeatedly getting thrush
  • Cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
  • Blurred vision.

“See a GP if you have any of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes or you’re worried you may have a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes,” advises the NHS.

The health body continues: “A GP can diagnose diabetes. You’ll need a blood test, which you may have to go to your local health centre for if it cannot be done at your GP surgery.”

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