Drinking in moderation three or four times a week appears to help stave off diabetes compared to both heavy drinkers and people who don’t drink.
The study, published in Diabetologia, looked at the drinking habits and conditions of 70,551 Danish men and women, each followed on average for slightly less than five years. This result seems to be in line with other studies that suggest alcohol reduces an individual's chance of diabetes, although this one also estimates the optimal frequency for alcohol consumption. Frequency appears to be more important than quantity.
"Our findings suggest that alcohol drinking frequency is associated with risk of diabetes and that consumption of alcohol over 3-4 days per week is associated with the lowest risk of diabetes, even after taking average weekly alcohol consumption into account,” the researchers wrote in their paper.
The research showed that individuals of any gender that drink seven glasses of wine a week, lower their risk of diabetes between 25 and 30 percent compared to people that drank less than one glass. Beer instead affected gender differently. Women drinking beer in moderation had the same risk as women not drinking, while men drinking six glass of beer a week were 21 percent less likely to develop diabetes.
The data was also adjusted based on other factors – family history of diabetes and diet are clearly important, as is age, sex, level of education and exercise, body mass index, and smoking status, which were all taken into account while producing the statistics.
The study doesn’t distinguish between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, and the researchers have not found a clear link between binge drinking and diabetes, but the researchers admit that only a small number of participants reported binge drinking.
The beneficial effect is believed to be linked to the presence of polyphenols in wine, which are molecules that help the human body better manage blood sugars levels. The team also saw a lower risk of developing cardiovascular diseases in the same group.
While the study is intriguing, it shouldn’t be taken as alcohol is good for you. Consuming any amount of alcohol increases one's risk of gastrointestinal diseases, and alcohol itself is linked to 50 different conditions.