Is Caffeine Safe For Diabetics?

Is Caffeine Safe For Diabetics?

Having a warm drink before leaving for work or school is an absolute necessity for a great number of people around the world. Whether the season is warm or cold, a nice cup of tea or a mug of coffee completes the morning ritual and help in waking up properly.

In addition, iced tea and coffee are equally in demand. An increasing number of people have left conventional drinks such as fruit juices, smoothies, and milkshakes behind. Fraps, chillers or whatever you like to call it, are everyone’s go-to drinks, especially on a hot summer day.

Whether it is from coffee or tea in their many different forms, most teenagers and adults get caffeine every day. According to statistics, 4 in 5 adults have coffee or tea on a daily basis regardless of their health conditions.

In addition, caffeine is also taken in a good amount by children. Another food item that is caffeine-rich and is consumed on a wide scale by people in the world is chocolate. In fact, the consumption of chocolate is greater than both coffee and tea.

Chocolate is found in countless forms in different products. It is used as an ingredient in meals, desserts, and toppings. Hot chocolate along with tea and coffee is equally popular and included not only in diets of children but adults.

Flavors of chocolate, tea, and coffee, according to a recent study, too have caffeine in them. It is hard to not have any caffeine in the diet for a normal person. Caffeine taken on a regular basis has no particular harm on the human body unless you overdose on it which is a highly unlikely scenario.

However, for people with serious health issues such as diabetes type 2, caffeine may cause complications and make it harder to maintain blood glucose levels.

How is caffeine affecting your blood sugar?

Caffeine patients of diabetes type 2 or generally higher sugar levels respond differently to its intake in comparison with people who have a normal blood-glucose level. It can play a vital role in increasing sugar level in the blood.

In addition, insulin production in the body can also react to adding caffeine to the diet. The amount of insulin produced and how the body reacts to it can both be changed with different responses to be seen every time.

Caffeine normally reduces the body’s sensitivity to insult when taken in a large amount. The body ultimately becomes less responsive to the release of insulin. The cells stop reacting with insulin, effectively absorbing less sugar than before.

This pushes the body to create more insulin for proper absorption and digestion of the sugar consumed. Hence, this kind of reaction leaves the person with higher levels of insulin after meals and undigested sugars.

In type 2 diabetes, these kinds of effects on the body can create dangerous situations as the body stops responding to the lesser than usual amount of insulin being produced as well. In addition, caffeine can have a different effect depending on the person.

Any food containing caffeine taken with a meal is likely to leave the person with considerably high blood sugar levels that will be really hard to control. Caffeine may make the conventional methods of bringing blood sugar levels down less efficient as it adds to the rise itself.

A study conducted at caffeine’s effect on blood glucose level in type 2 diabetes patients looked at subjects who had a 250mg caffeine supplement along with breakfast and later in the day at lunch. A 250 mg tablet is the same serving as a cup of tea or coffee.

The conclusion of this study was that diabetes type 2 patients who added caffeinated drinks or beverage to their diet can have comparatively higher levels of blood sugar.

The subjects, in comparison with another diabetes type 2 patients who did not have caffeine, had 8% higher blood sugar levels.

Additionally, constant monitoring of the levels showed that they kept fluctuating. At one time they would be extremely high and in an hour they would drop but increase again after some time.

Readings jumped repeatedly and far more frequently in patients who took caffeine supplements.

Hence, if you add even as little as a cup of coffee to your daily diet while having type 2 diabetes, it can increase your chances of having diabetes-related complications such as heart and nerve damage.

Why does caffeine affect the body in this way?

The effects of caffeine on the body and particularly on the blood sugar are still be studied and researched about. Most of the researchers have unanimously agreed to the following explanations of the link between blood sugar and caffeine:

Hormonal changes

Caffeine-loaded drinks and beverages might seem to have a soothing effect on the brain and mood but in reality, it can have the opposite effect.

Stress hormones such as epinephrine, commonly known as adrenaline, can be triggered. These hormones disturb the body’s efficiency to absorb and digested sugar.

In addition, insulin production can be hampered by having too much adrenaline. Consequently, the digestion of sugar and its absorption can be greatly affected.

Proteins and bodily responses

Adenosine is a protein molecule fundamental for the absorption and digestion of sugars as it controls the insulin production. Caffeine can block and disturb the molecule’s production hence stopping the production of insulin as well.

Secondly, the body’s response to the insulin is also determined by adenosine. Blockage of this protein means the cells grow less sensitive to insulin when absorbing sugar.

The amount of insulin in such a situation then does not matter since the body can completely stop responding to it.

Sleep patterns

Caffeinated drinks are well known to keep you up at night. Coffee or tea comes in handy for many people when they have to stay up late for any activity or need help in waking up in the morning before heading outdoors.

For people with type 2 diabetes, this might not be a good idea. Staying up generally can harm people with high sugar levels as disturbed sleep patterns have been proven to affect insulin sensitivity. Lack of sleep basically is dangerous for diabetes patients.
Is Caffeine Safe For Diabetics?

How much caffeine is recommended?

It takes about 200-250mg of caffeine to affect a person’s blood sugar level. That is roughly 3 cups of tea and 2 cups of coffee where the number of cups may vary depending on the size. Most of the diabetes patients are recommended to avoid caffeine as much as possible.

However, recent studies have also highlighted that the body responds differently to the caffeine intake depending on the person. The person’s height, weight, age and even habits can make the effect of having a cup of coffee or a bar of chocolate different.

This is not only confined to people who do not suffer from changing blood levels but diabetes patients as well. A diabetes patient who has coffee daily is less likely to experience a rise in sugar level and the changes are the same for a patient who does not have any caffeinated food.

It is argued that the body might adjust and adapt to changes in accordance with the person’s daily habits.

On the contrast, many researchers have disagreed, claiming caffeine intake should be controlled because of the potential harm of the body reacting differently and blood sugar increases at any time.

With an academic background in Food Sciences, Klaire is interested to read about the latest news on nutrition, therapeutic benefits of foods and health. She is a practicing dietician with a focus on improving women’s health. Before joining the team, she has worked as a researcher and freelance writer.

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