Dr Aidin Rawshani

Summer vacation: health gain or health hazard?


Last night, I talked to a friend who has type 2 diabetes. It was a nice chat where we discussed everything from the World Cup to his coronary artery surgery (he underwent a bypass operation about 10 years ago). He thinks it’s easy to talk about his diabetes and he has always been motivated to succeed in lifestyle changes in the form of diet and exercise.

During the summer months, he barely dares to stand on the scales and he does not make as many measurements of blood sugar. This is because he says, he “enjoys far too much during the summer’. More fast food, more beer and wine and not infrequently he sits several hours on the balcony when the sun is shining. He expects to get up about 5 kg during the summer, but he sees that as reasonable in terms of pleasure. The question is whether 5 kg is really a reasonable sacrifice.

Many streams small

Three quarters of the year we long for the summer. Idleness and sun come to pleasure and peace of mind. Those who are disciplined can turn summer into a highly health-promoting period by taking the time to eat better food, exercise more and relax. Better food, more physical activity, and less stress are undoubtedly some of the most health-promoting factors.

For those who are less disciplined, summer can, unfortunately, become an unhealthy More leave, bright sun and more meetings with friends and family easily lead to more food, energy tight food, more beer, more wine, less physical activity. Sales in the restaurant industry and at Systembolaget are highest during the summer months.

The impact of summer on health is almost exclusively a result of how disciplined one is. Temptations are numerous and recurring. It is important to be able to set limits and say no to unnecessary consumption of food and drink. Likewise, you have to take yourself by the collar to get out on walks and possibly jogging tours.

To succeed, one must, first of all, realize that summer can potentially mean a deterioration in health (if one misbehaves). It must also be established as a routine that decisions concerning the intake of food, drink and exercise should not be taken too quickly. Rapid decisions rarely lead to the wrong decision. To refrain from temptation requires motivating oneself, which can take a few seconds more than to fall for temptation. Therefore, avoid quick decisions and steer yourself when temptations appear.

How much joy does alcohol actually have?

Over the past 20 years, scientists have said that moderate alcohol consumption (especially wine) protects against a heart attack. A large international study reported that regular use of alcohol was associated with a lower risk of heart attack.3

Additional studies have confirmed that the risk of a heart attack is somewhat lower among people who drink alcohol regularly. The conclusions of these studies have spread to the public, which is why you are rarely told that “a glass of wine is useful for the heart”.

There is a problem with this. First of all, the absolute majority (if not all) of those studies are so-called observational studies, which makes it impossible to clarify whether it was actually the alcohol that was protective, or whether it was something else (which is subject to alcohol) that was protective. Perhaps it is the case that people who drink a little wine every day are better off economically and socially. Then the effect attributed to alcohol could actually depend on other factors (socio-economic). It is therefore not certain that alcohol itself prevents a heart attack. In addition, the incidence of a heart attack is rapidly declining in Sweden. Although heart attack continues to be the single most common cause of death, the number of heart attacks decreases every year, while the number of cancer cases rises.

In the coming years, fewer and fewer people — including people with diabetes — will suffer from less cardiovascular disease and more cancer instead. Alcohol is associated with an increased risk of several cancers, such as cancer of the esophagus, colon (colon cancer), liver and throat. There is also science that suggests that alcohol is associated with pancreatic cancer (pancreas, pancreatic cancer), prostate cancer and skin cancer (malignant melanoma) .4

It is thus quite complicated and we at diabeteson.com will not issue any recommendation regarding alcohol. Our purpose is only to inform You of potential advantages and disadvantages, after which you yourself (preferably in consultation with your caregiver) may decide how you want to do.

Maximize health this summer

There is no doubt that summer can be enjoyed without the unnecessary intake of food and drinks. Your attitude is crucial, and it’s a matter of steeling yourself when temptations come. We hope you use the time and warmth to meet family and friends, exercise more and eat better food.

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