I'm not sure why the topic of alcohol consumption and human health has grabbed my attention. Perhaps it is such a large part of our societies' social fabric. This can be good and bad. I'm a delusional optimist so I shall focus on the good. It is either that or I am looking for any reason to rationalize the enjoyment of a good craft beer.
This article caught my attention the other day. It appeared in the September 2009 edition of my favourite journal The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Don't laugh, I'm serious. The articles can be very interesting.
In this study researchers looked at the effects of alcohol consumption and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Subject were either told to do nothing (placebo), take metformin (drug), or adjust their lifestyle. One drink was defined as 12g of alcohol, which is slightly less than an average beer. After three years those who drank between 1-6 drinks per week had a lower risk of developing diabetes than those who drank less than 1 drink per week. However these results were only seen in the groups that took metformin (drug) or modified their lifestyle. If you do nothing and drink beer it will not help prevent type 2 diabetes.
There were a few other interesting findings. Moderate drinkers also had higher concentrations of HDL or good cholesterol than did non-drinkers. Also, patients who reported higher levels of alcohol consumption tended to be older, less obese, male and white. They also drank more coffee and tea, exercised more and had a greater caloric intake. This was odd because despite their greater caloric intake, these patients tended to be less obese than non-drinkers. This finding could not be explained by differences in physical activity.
So what does this mean? It is simple. Enjoy your beer in moderation, get off the couch and exercise more. If you want a more medical or scientific explanation... Moderate alcohol consumption pair with lifestyle modification, significantly reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in high risk individuals.