Diabetes Self-Management Blog

Red wine has long been touted as the “healthy” alcoholic beverage, a key component of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet, and possibly a reason why French people live as long as they do. Of course, consuming alcohol carries known risks (which can include addiction and abuse, as well as higher blood triglyceride levels in some people) as well as potential benefits (moderate drinking has been associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular problems, dementia, and Type 2 diabetes). But red wine has long been believed to carry additional benefits not seen in other alcoholic beverages. For example, as we noted in a Diabetes Flashpoints post in 2012, drinking red wine was found in a small study to reduce insulin resistance more than drinking an equivalent amount of gin.

Researchers have long suspected that the main reason for red wine’s positive health impact is that it contains high levels of polyphenols, chemicals associated with numerous health benefits including reduced inflammation and cancer resistance. Probably the most widely studied, and loudly trumpeted, polyphenol found in red wine is resveratrol, which is also found in lower concentrations in chocolate and certain berries. Among numerous other studies, one from 2006, published in the journal Nature, found that middle-aged mice on a high-calorie diet exhibited fitness characteristics of younger, skinnier mice — and lived longer — when they consumed very high levels of resveratrol in their diet.

But, of course, humans are not mice, and many promising findings in mice have been found not to apply to humans. So a new study sought to find out whether resveratrol in the diet had any effect on the longevity of older human beings. Published last week by the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, the study examined 783 men and women ages 65 and above in the region of Chianti, Italy. As part of the study, which lasted nine years, participants gave urine samples from which researchers measured resveratrol consumption, and their health status was measured in a number of ways. According to a HealthDay article on the study, 34.3% of participants died during the nine-year period. In addition, 27.2% developed heart disease, and 4.6% developed cancer. Overall, participants had resveratrol-rich diets, as indicated by their urine samples. But there was no beneficial outcome seen among participants who consumed the most of it. In fact, the quarter of participants who consumed the most resveratrol were slightly more likely to die than the quarter who consumed the least of it. No statistically significant difference in any outcome (death, heart disease, cancer, inflammation, etc.) was seen at any level of resveratrol consumption.

It’s possible, of course, that red wine has health benefits this study couldn’t detect, for a number of possible reasons. Nine years may not be long enough to measure red wine’s health benefits, or it may be possible that the benefits would be more detectable in a younger or more diverse population. And, of course, it’s possible that regular red-wine drinkers know about its health benefits and therefore make less of an effort to be healthy in other ways, so that they are no more likely overall to be healthy than their wine-shy peers. But one conclusion seems clear from this study: The health benefits of drinking red wine aren’t so overwhelming that it can be said to dramatically increase longevity or reduce disease.

Do you drink red wine regularly? If so, did you take it up for health-related reasons? Does this study, or would others like it, make you reconsider your beverage choices? What factors have shaped your decision to drink, or not to drink, alcohol? Leave a comment below!

POST A COMMENT       
  

Comments
  1. I supposed it occurred to “them” that the resveratrol was not it? Maybe it was a combination of things, maybe the wine drinkers were just happier?? It is well-known that how one feels affects one’s health.
    Anyhow, I started drinking red wine on the advise of my Cardio. I’ve gotta say, of all the advise I’ve been given & medicines that have been prescribed–it is the most pleasant!!

    Posted by Redneck Angel |
  2. I started because of an anemia. Low hemoglobin it help get my levels up and stay up without other meds. I only drink one glass a day. I will keep this drinking my wine .

    Posted by Debra L |
  3. I too had heard that red wine was good for you so back in 1999 my wife and I started having 1-2 6 oz glasses every evening. Then in 2007 I found that I needed to have 3 stents inserted and went on a heart healthy low fat high carb diet. We still kept drinking the 1-2 glasses every evening. Then in 2013 I was diagnosed with type II diabetes.

    It is good to see a study showing that there are no obvious benefits of drinking red wine. And based on my N=1 study I don’t think it had any benefits for me.

    Now as a type II diabetic I do know alcohol does interfere with gluconeogenesis (the production of glucose) by the liver. So alcohol used in moderation can be of benefit since it tends to lower blood glucose in type II diabetes. For type I diabetics or for type I diabetics using insulin, this effect can actually be dangerous.

    Posted by OldTech |

Post a Comment

Note: All comments are moderated and there may be a delay in the publication of your comment. Please be on-topic and appropriate. Do not disclose personal information. Be respectful of other posters. Only post information that is correct and true to your knowledge. When referencing information that is not based on personal experience, please provide links to your sources. All commenters are considered to be nonmedical professionals unless explicitly stated otherwise. Promotion of your own or someone else's business or competing site is not allowed: Sharing links to sites that are relevant to the topic at hand is permitted, but advertising is not. Once submitted, comments cannot be modified or deleted by their authors. Comments that don't follow the guidelines above may be deleted without warning. Such actions are at the sole discretion of DiabetesSelfManagement.com. Comments are moderated Monday through Friday by the editors of DiabetesSelfManagement.com. The moderators are employees of Madavor Media, LLC., and do not report any conflicts of interest. A privacy policy setting forth our policies regarding the collection, use, and disclosure of certain information relating to you and your use of this Web site can be found here. For more information, please read our Terms and Conditions.


Flashpoints
Insurance, Unclaimed (10/29/14)
Potatoes: Good or Bad? (10/20/14)
Sandwich Trouble (10/15/14)
Soda Surrender? (10/08/14)

 

 

Disclaimer of Medical Advice: You understand that the blog posts and comments to such blog posts (whether posted by us, our agents or bloggers, or by users) do not constitute medical advice or recommendation of any kind, and you should not rely on any information contained in such posts or comments to replace consultations with your qualified health care professionals to meet your individual needs. The opinions and other information contained in the blog posts and comments do not reflect the opinions or positions of the Site Proprietor.