Study Shows that a Glass of Wine Can Improve Diabetics’ Health

November 2, 2015
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People who have been newly diagnosed with diabetes enter a brand-new phase in their lives — one in which their entire lifestyle must change. From limiting sweets to monitoring blood sugar levels on an ongoing basis, a misstep or two in the new regimen could swiftly turn life-threatening.

But one new study may put a little joy back into the life of most diabetics. Its findings suggest that a glass of red wine at dinner may actually improve your health.

The Encouraging Findings

People who have been newly diagnosed with diabetes enter a brand-new phase in their lives — one in which their entire lifestyle must change. From limiting sweets to monitoring blood sugar levels on an ongoing basis, a misstep or two in the new regimen could swiftly turn life-threatening.

But one new study may put a little joy back into the life of most diabetics. Its findings suggest that a glass of red wine at dinner may actually improve your health.

The Encouraging Findings

The bulk of the research on this topic was performed at the Ben-Gurion University in Israel. Researchers there studied type 2 diabetes patients who were at higher risk for cardiovascular disease, had low levels of “good” cholesterol, and were much more likely to abstain from alcohol because of their condition.

They chose 224 patients and asked that they each drink one 5-ounce glass of either mineral water, dry white wine, or dry red wine with dinner every night. The patients also closely followed a Mediterranean diet under a physician’s direction.

They did this for an entire two-year period, at the end of which the patients went through a rigorous medical exam and filled out a questionnaire. The findings showed that individuals who drank a glass of red wine every night at dinner enjoyed a better night’s sleep, a faster metabolism, and a higher level of “good” cholesterol than the other participants.

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Overall, the researchers concluded that type 2 diabetes patients who enjoy a moderate daily wine intake may expect a lower cardio-metabolic risk overall.

Not the Case for Type 1 Diabetics

Unfortunately, the findings of the study could not be confirmed for type 1 diabetes since the test subjects all had type 2. What’s more, it’s unlikely to be confirmed in future studies for type 1 patients because the factors that cause the two kinds of diabetes are so different.

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body destroys cells that make insulin as the direct result of an autoimmune disease. People who have type 1 diabetes must take insulin shots in order to survive. It’s often called juvenile diabetes because patients tend to be born with it, although the symptoms may not show up until later in life.

In contrast, type 2 diabetes can turn up more gradually when the body stops using insulin properly. It’s the most common type of diabetes, and much more common among elderly individuals.

Type 2 diabetes is more often brought on by poor health habits, including lack of proper nutrition and insufficient exercise.

The study’s conclusion showed an improvement due to factors caused by external influences. Alcohol in moderate doses has been known to help reverse the impact of some external factors that contribute to heart disease, which is what spurred the researchers to begin the study.

Because type 1 diabetes is genetically based rather than developed through external and behavioral factors, wine is not likely to have the same effect. However, this won’t stop researchers from engaging in future studies of the potential effects of wine on type 1 diabetes.