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Research Summary

Moderate Drinking May Improve Fasting Glucose in People with Diabetes

Data on the association between moderate drinking and glycemic control are conflicting. To clarify this association, researchers in Israel conducted a randomized trial of 109 subjects with type 2 diabetes who had not consumed >1 drink in the past week. Subjects, aged 41 to 74 years, were given either about 1 glass of wine or nonalcoholic beer (control) daily with dinner.  Each subject received dietary counseling, was instructed to consume a specific amount of calories, completed food diaries and questionnaires, and underwent blood testing.

Results for the 91 patients who completed the 3-month trial include the following: 

  • Fasting blood glucose decreased in the alcohol group (from 140 to 118 mg/dl) but not in the control group.
  • In the alcohol group, decreases were greatest among patients with higher levels of hemoglobin A1c at baseline.
  • Postprandial glucose levels did not significantly differ between the groups. 
  • No notable adverse effects were reported.

Comments:

In this study, patients with diabetes who had abstained for a week but started consuming about a glass of wine per day had a rather marked improvement in their fasting blood glucose levels. Those with more severe disease (i.e., higher baseline levels of hemoglobin A1c) showed the largest effect from alcohol, a finding supported from many observational studies. Since subjects were followed for only 3 months, long-term effects cannot be estimated from this study.

R. Curtis Ellison, MD

Reference:

Shai I, Wainstein J, Harman-Boehm I, et al. Glycemic effects of moderate alcohol intake among patients with type 2 diabetes: a multi-center, randomized clinical intervention trial. Diabetes Care. 2007;30(12):3011–3016.


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