Alcohol and Diabetes: Is there a relationship?

Tempo de Leitura: 2 minutos

It is commonknowledge that excessive alcohol consumption is one of the leading causes of death and disability worldwide. Nevertheless, moderate and adequate consumption is associated with reduced harm to the body. One of the main observed benefits of reduced consumption was glucose metabolism, in which it has been documented in several well-designed clinical trials. Therefore, one study sought to investigate the associations of alcohol intake in relation to meals and the amount of alcohol intake with the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM2) and biomarkers related to DM2.

Alcohol and Diabetes: Interpretation of literature

The study in question showed that moderate alcohol intake (≥100 to <200 g/week) with meals was significantly associated with a lower risk of DM2 than drinking out of meals. This favorable association between moderate alcohol consumption and meals was supported by several well-designed long-term feeding studies.

Furthermore, when analyzing biomarkers related to DM2, there were beneficial associations between alcohol intake and glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels, in which they were stronger in participants who consumed alcohol during meals than in those who did not, i.e., alcohol intake during meals was related to lower HbA1c levels.

Also, C-reactive protein (CRP) levels were evaluated, since this is a marker of low-grade systemic inflammation, and its anti-inflammatory effect is one of the important biological mechanisms underlying the beneficial association of alcohol consumption with the risk of DM2. In view of this, moderate alcohol consumption during meals was associated with lower CRP concentrations, but was associated with higher CRP concentrations in participants who consumed alcohol outside meals.

Is there a more suitable alcoholic drink?

In addition, when compared three alcoholic beverages: wine, beer and liquor; differential associations were observed in relation to CRP concentrations. That is, higher wine consumption was associated with lower CRP concentrations, while higher beer or liquor consumption was significantly associated with higher CRP concentrations.

Thus, the analyses made related to various types of alcoholic beverages indicated that the beneficial associations between alcohol consumption with meals and biomarkers related to DM2 were observed mainly in wine consumption.

So far it is unclear whether the beneficial associations of wine are to the detriment of non-alcoholic components, such as polyphenols, or the healthier lifestyle that is observed in wine drinkers when compared to non-drinkers. Despite this, clinical trials have shown that wine may confer greater anti-inflammatory effects than other alcoholic beverages due to the anti-inflammatory properties of polyphenols.

These data were also demonstrated in a two-year intervention study, which showed that a moderate intake of wine, as part of a dinner, significantly decreased HbA1c levels, fasting glucose concentrations and improved insulin resistance in well-controlled diabetic patients.

Clinical practice

Therefore, it is indicated the maximum moderate consumption of alcohol, especially wine, along with meals for a lower risk of DM2 in sporadic drinkers. It is worth remembering that it is very important to take into account the moment of alcohol intake and the amount.

Bibliographic references

Reading suggestion: Effects of a low glycemic index diet in patients with diabetes

See Pedro Guilherme Renke’s lesson on the Science Play platform
: Insulin Resistance and Metabolic Syndrome

Hao Ma, Xuan Wang, Xiang Li, Yoriko Heianza, Lu Qi. Moderate alcohol drinking with meals is related to lower incidence of type 2 diabetes. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 116, Issue 6, December 2022, Pages 1507–1514.

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