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Experts say a glass of wine with dinner may help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, although they aren’t sure why. Studio Firma/Stocksy United
  • Preliminary research suggests that drinking one glass of wine with a meal may lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes versus drinking outside of a meal.
  • Other types of alcohol were not associated with lower type 2 diabetes risk.
  • Experts say it’s best to discuss alcohol consumption with your doctor.

Drinking wine with dinner may help prevent type 2 diabetes, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention, Lifestyle & Cardiometabolic Health Conference 2022.

“The effects of alcohol consumption on health have been described as a double-edged sword because of its apparent abilities to cut deeply in either direction – harmful or helpful, depending on how it is consumed,” said Dr. Hao Ma, a study author and a biostatistical analyst at the Tulane University Obesity Research Center in New Orleans, in a statement.

“Previous studies have focused on how much people drink and have had mixed results,” he added. “Very few studies have focused on other drinking details, such as the timing of alcohol intake.”

The researchers used data from more than 312,000 adults who self-reported as regular alcohol drinkers. None had diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or cancer at the start of the study. People who reduced alcohol consumption during the study period were excluded.

Participants were followed an average of 11 years. In that time, about 8,600 developed type 2 diabetes.

Analysis of the data found that drinking alcohol with meals was associated with a 14 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes than drinking without food. This benefit was linked to drinking wine versus other types of alcohol. The researchers didn’t collect data on the timing of meals.

One study limitation is that details of alcohol consumption were self-reported.

Another is that 95 percent of participants were white adults of European descent. It’s not known whether these results could be generalized for others.

At this time, the study has not been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Dr. Kathleen Wyne is an endocrinologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. She told Healthline that the body of data suggests that wine may be good for someone with prediabetes or diabetes.

“But just one glass,” stressed Wyne.

Previous research suggests that people who have type 2 diabetes and drink a moderate amount of wine have lower mortality, she added.

The reasons for this aren’t clear.

“Wine drinking may be a marker for healthy eating, relaxation, and less stress,” Wyne said. “Or there may be something specific in wine that helps slow diabetes.”

Dr. Joseph Barrera, an endocrinologist with Providence Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, California, told Healthline that “in an individual who might have increased risk of type 2 diabetes, such as family history or BMI above 25, moderate wine intake may improve insulin resistance.”

“Timing it with meals might be more beneficial in preventing the potential onset of diabetes,” he added.

People with prediabetes have the most to gain, said Barrera.

“But if you’re at low risk of diabetes and not a drinker, it wouldn’t make sense to start drinking,” he said. “Similarly, if you have diabetes and are not a drinker, you shouldn’t initiate drinking.”

He noted that people who have the ability to do things in moderation are not as likely to drink too much or overeat.

“This kind of study gets a lot of attention, but there are other ways to prevent type 2 diabetes,” Barrera said. “For example, 150 minutes of exercise a week, spread out over 3 days, is probably a lot more effective. But it’s not as exciting as a glass of wine with dinner.”

Moderation is key.

Wine glasses have been getting bigger, so it’s easy to drink more wine than you intend.

One glass of wine means 5 ounces of 12 percent wine. In comparison, a can of cola is typically 12 ounces.

Wyne cautioned that fortified wine is higher in alcohol content and that women’s livers are more susceptible to the toxicity of alcohol.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Alcohol from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), moderate drinking means two drinks or less per day for men and one drink or less per day for women.

“Minimize alcohol intake if you have a problem with alcohol, liver disease, or a family history of liver disease,” said Wyne.

Barrera cautioned that certain diabetic medications, including some that are taken with meals, can precipitate low blood sugar when combined with alcohol.

“If you take medicine for diabetes, talk to your doctor about the safety of drinking alcohol with meals,” said Barrera.

According to the CDC, excessive drinking can lead to short-term and long-term consequences like:

  • accidents and injury
  • miscarriage and stillbirth
  • high blood pressure, heart disease
  • liver disease, digestive problems
  • certain types of cancer
  • depression, anxiety
  • learning and memory problems
  • risky behaviors, violence
  • alcohol poisoning

“Weigh the risks and don’t be afraid to ask your doctor if there’s a reason to have one glass of wine with dinner,” Wyne advised.

“With what we’ve gathered so far, if you drink already but don’t do it at mealtime, you can choose wine over beer or spirits and drink it with dinner,” Barrera said.

Three things to keep in mind, he said, are:

  • quantity
  • timing
  • speaking with your doctor about whether this strategy applies to you.

“Other medical concerns may complicate alcohol consumption,” Barrera said. “And if you don’t drink already, you can find another strategy, like exercise.”