Recent research has shown that moderate alcohol consumption can help protect post-menopausal women from the dangers of heart disease. Now new evidence has come to light which suggests that the occasional drink could help fight diabetes, too.
A study by a team from the US Department of Agriculture led by Dr Michael J. Davies showed that women who consumed one to two drinks a day had a better insulin response - in turn reducing the risk of diabetes.
The women also had a lower level of insulin in their blood, the study shows. Insulin helps the body's cells use sugar for energy were better able to respond to insulin, a hormone that helps cells use sugar for energy, but high levels of the hormone in the blood can cause both heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Post-menopausal women have a particularly high risk of both heart disease and diabetes because of elevated insulin levels and a lower sensitivity to the hormone.
The researchers looked at 51 healthy post-menopausal women over an eight-week period, dividing them into three groups. One group drank no alcohol at all, while the others consumed one drink a day or two drinks a day. All three groups were on a diet designed to maintain their body weight.
The results of the study showed that the group which consumed two drinks a day had insulin levels which were nearly 20 per cent lower than those in the teetotal group. Triglycerides levels were around 10 per cent lower, while there was a 7 per cent increase in insulin sensitivity.
The researchers found that there was no change in blood glucose levels in any of the three groups, nor were the results affected by the subjects' weight.