Drinking a few times a week ‘reduces diabetes risk’

Drinking a few times a week ‘reduces diabetes risk’

Drinking a few times a week 'reduces diabetes risk'


People who drink three to four times a week are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who never drink, Danish researchers suggest.

Wine appears to be particularly beneficial, probably as it plays a role in helping to manage blood sugar.

They surveyed more than 70,000 people on their alcohol intake – how much and how often they drank.

But experts said this wasn’t a “green light” to drink more than recommended.

And Public Health England warned that consuming alcohol contributed to a vast number of other serious diseases, including some cancers, heart and liver disease.

People should keep this in mind when thinking about how much they drink.

‘Better effect’

The researchers found that drinking frequency has an independent effect from the amount of alcohol taken.

We can see it’s a better effect to drink the alcohol in four portions rather than all at once.

After around five years, study participants were followed up and a total of 859 men and 887 women group had developed diabetes – either type 1 or the more common type 2.

The researchers concluded that drinking moderately three to four times a week reduced a woman’s risk of diabetes by 32% while it lowered a man’s by 27%, compared with people drinking on less than one day a week.

Red wine is thought to help with the management of blood sugar

 Drinking a few times a week 'reduces diabetes risk'

Findings also suggest that not all types of alcohol had the same effect.

Wine appeared to be particularly beneficial because polyphenols, particularly in red wine, play a role in helping to manage blood sugar.

When it came to drinking beer, men having one to six beers a week lowered their risk of diabetes by 21%, compared to men who drank less than one beer a week – but there was no impact on women’s risk.

Meanwhile, a high intake of spirits among women seemed to significantly increase their risk of diabetes – but there was no effect in men.

Unlike other studies, this research did not find a link between binge drinking and diabetes.

Prof Tolstrup said this could be down to the small number of participants that reported binge drinking, which was defined as drinking five drinks or more on one occasion.

It is clear that people needed to be wary as the impact of regular alcohol consumption on the risk of type 2 will be different from one person to the next

While the findings were interesting researchers said that they wouldn’t recommend people see them as a green light to drink in excess of the existing NHS guidelines.

That advice suggests that men and women should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week – equivalent to six pints of average strength beer or 10 small glasses of low strength wine – over the course of three days or more, with some days being alcohol-free.

‘Not helpful’

It is not helpful to talk about the effect of alcohol consumption on diabetes alone. Consuming alcohol contributes to a vast number of other serious diseases, including some cancers, heart disease and liver disease, so people should keep this in mind when thinking about how much they drink.

Prof Tolstrup and her team have used the same survey to research the effect of alcohol on other conditions.

They found that drinking moderately a few times a week was linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disorders, such as heart attack and stroke.

But consuming any amount of alcohol increased the risk of developing gastrointestinal diseases, such as alcohol liver disease and pancreatitis.

Alcohol is associated with 50 different conditions, so the researchers are not saying ‘go ahead and drink alcohol’.

The five mistakes runners make – and how to stay injury free

The five mistakes runners make – and how to stay injury free

 The five mistakes runners make - and how to stay injury free

Tom Craggs is a coaching consultant to some of the UK’s biggest sports brands and charities. Unlike most performance coaches in the UK, Tom wasn’t an elite athlete and didn’t run as a junior. He took up running to raise money for charity when his dad was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2006, completing his first marathon in three hours aged twenty-five. Since then, he’s been coaching runners one-on-one at Running With Us, offering advice and training plans to a range of athletes, from beginners to champions such as Tracy Barlow and Louise Damen who ran the Commonwealth games. After ten years of experience, there are five most common mistakes heís seen come up again and again. They can be easily prevented with the right precautions. Here’s his guide:

Too fast, too soon

A lot of people run at an unsustainable speed for their current level of fitness. They think they can only run in one gear. But if your energy demands are too great, then your body will rely on the readily available glycogen sugars in your muscles. A slower metabolic process that converts stored fats into usable energy is better, otherwise youíll run out of carbohydrates. Mo Farah has enough stored fat to run several marathons back to back. Runners need to embrace easy running and not feel like itís a failure. You can use a heartrate monitor to make sure you’re not running too fast – you should run at a pace where you can talk comfortably.

Not enough variety

All runners have a tendency to stick with what they’re already good at because it’s a confidence boost – particularly new runners, who are on an upward curve from a very low base. But after that initial period, your body will start to plateau, and progress will slow. The mistake is doing most of your running in a narrow band of paces, sticking to a steady pace without enough variety. Slowing down and doing interval training helps the body adapt. Instead of doing everything in one block, we break it in to smaller chunks and gradually increase them. I hate the term ‘junk miles’, but if you do loads of exercise in one area, you’re not getting all the benefits in terms of energy metabolism.

Work gets in the way

Fitting running around working life can be hard – everyone has busy lives. If you have heavy work projects, you should adapt a training plan around them, because if your cortisol levels become chronically elevated, this can increase the risk of injury. You should spend as much time thinking about recovery as training – your body only gets stronger when your muscles heal, when your energy systems regenerate their hormones. If you don’t balance your training with rest and nutrition, this can lead to injury or losing motivation. A consistently good nightís sleep is critical to progress. You need a balanced diet with a full spread of quality proteins and fat in the right amounts. Most people want a quick route to their goals but the body needs consistency – fad diets are definitely not sustainable.

Muscle overload

There are three controllable variables in training: frequency, intensity, and volume. If you change them all at the same time, the body will burn out. The main injuries people suffer include achilles tendonitis, calf muscle tears, inflammation and soreness in the knee, and shin splints. Often, the results are not immediate, but seen five to 10 years later. Running is addictive, and people want to push harder, but doing too much and overloading the muscles doesnít make you fitter – the body can only get fitter in the adaptation period. Instead of just trying to achieve a goal in one go, break it down with rest periods, gradually increasing the length of those blocks and reducing the recoveries. This gives the body a planned, method-based approach to build fitness.

Short-term focus

Instead of focusing on an individual event, runners should think about a long-term plan. The aim is to build a sustainable pattern of progress – ‘periodising’ – organising the year into training phases, and making sure you incorporate strength and conditioning into this plan. Elite athletes look at Olympic cycles, and general runners can think the same way, looking at a six-month to a year plan. For example, after a marathon, don’t just suddenly stop, nor immediately restart. Look at a macro cycle – building, tapering and recovering – and consider how to stress the body differently. Put your training emphasis in a different place, like running on different surfaces, such as hilly terrain. This helps keep motivation levels up and breaks through the plateaus.