Food and drink choices are very important where diabetes is concerned. While staying hydrated may be the prime focus, make sure that you do it the right way. Know which liquids make the best and worst drinks for diabetics, in the following HealthHearty article.
“Bartender, I’d like a margarita, a long island, two beers, and a double shot of insulin!” ~Anonymous
Most people know the role of diet when dealing with diabetes. Along with food, the kind of liquid you consume is also equally important, because the drinks you include in your diet plan are going to affect your calorie intake and blood sugar levels to a great extent. We all know how important water is to the human body. Without enough fluids, the bodily functions get hampered. This is also applicable in case of diabetes. Inadequate water can spike sugar levels.
Also, when the sugar levels in the blood are elevated, again a lot of water is lost from the body through the urine. Considering these health conditions, especially of a diabetic, we could say that staying hydrated and drinking plenty of liquids is essential.
But this does not mean all liquids are safe and beneficial. Diabetics need to be very careful when choosing drinks – at least the one’s that are going to be a part of everyday life.
Best Drinks for Diabetics
Liquid calories can be both good and bad for diabetic health. Choosing the right drink is not easy, especially with all the confusion with what’s good and what’s not. Know which liquids are safe for you to consume, through this section.
How clichéd? Yes, that is true. And this is perhaps why they say water is life. For diabetics, and also for everybody else, there is no other healthier drink than fresh, plain water. Research suggests that the connection between blood sugar levels and water is the hormone called vasopressin. When the body is dehydrated, this hormone signals the liver to make more blood sugar. According to a study, people who drank less than 16 ounces of water daily, had 30 percent more chances of having high blood sugar, compared to those who drank more than 16 ounces of water everyday.
So, it is always beneficial to have lots of water. If you find it tough to sip on regular water, add some lemon juice for a refreshing flavor. While many fruits and vegetables too are rich in water content, nothing gives you the required daily amount of water, than just plain water itself.
Milk is a rich source of calcium, vitamins, and minerals. Milk is good, not only for your growing years and overall health, but also for diabetes. According to a study, people (which included diabetics) who drank milk daily, in a bid to lose weight, lost more weight than people who had a low-dairy intake. So, make sure you have low fat, or skimmed milk daily, without sugar, as whole milk or sugar are going to add to the calories and blood sugar levels.
Consuming any kind of alcohol is a strict no, as the carbohydrate and sugar content is harmful for your blood sugar levels. However, if you must drink, opting for low-carb, natural, and light beer, and drinking in moderation, may be a better option. Make sure you have plenty of food while you sip on your drink, as drinking on an empty stomach can invite many complications.
Most sports drinks have a low amount of sugar, potassium, and sodium. They are a good choice to replace energy after or during a heavy workout or exercise. Sipping on a sports drink is, therefore, a good option to keep your body hydrated.
Black Coffee/Homemade Coffee with Skimmed Milk and No Sugar
While most people advise against caffeine for diabetes, black coffee is calorie-free and has no carbs. So, opting for black coffee in moderation may be alright for diabetics. A research found that a compound called chlorogenic acid helps lower the absorption of sugar. But in other cases, when you are a diabetic, coffee in moderation is advised. Homemade coffee with sugar substitutes and low-fat milk is perhaps a better option.
Unsweetened tea with with low-fat milk is a good beverage option for diabetics. Another tea variation, which is green tea or herbal tea, is an excellent choice. Black and green tea, both are beneficial to diabetics. Green tea is packed with antioxidants, and it has many benefits for the body. According to a study conducted in Japan, men and women, aged 45 – 60 years, who consumed more than 6 cups of green tea a day, reduced their chances of developing type 2 diabetes, by one-third. Another study conducted in China, showed that black tea contains high levels of polysaccharides, which slows the rate at which sugar is absorbed in blood. So, have a few cups of green or black tea everyday, except for adding the sugar or full-cream milk.
For people who love fizzy drinks, opting for diet soda and non-sugary versions of soda is a good option. Make sure you read the contents before you sip on it. Do not think it is a magic drink which allows you to binge eat later. If you must have soda, it is best to have it in moderation, and always the sugar-free version.
Worst Drinks for Diabetics
Now, let us take a look at the drinks that diabetics should avoid or only consume as a treat once in a while.
Regular soda is perhaps the worst choice for people with diabetes. These drinks are loaded with calories and sugar. One regular size soda drink will have approximately 150 calories, equaling 10 teaspoons of sugar! Enough reason to stay away? Opt for the sugar-free and diet versions of soda, if you must quench your thirst with fizz.
Fruit Juice/Sugary Fruit Drinks
Packaged juice especially, is high in calories and carbohydrates. While fruit juice is not a really harmful drink for alcoholics, they need to, however, carefully choose their drink. Fresh juice may look like a healthy option, but it is high in natural sugar. It is better to opt for whole fruit with fiber or vegetable juice instead. Always check the label and contents, even if the package reads sugar-free. Always keep the juice intake moderate, and consult your doctor before including juice in your daily diet.
Energy drinks are more or less similar to sports drinks, however, these drinks generally contain more sugar, caffeine, and some also contain amino acids. There are certain energy drinks with low-carb content and low sugar. But, all in all, for diabetics, it is best advised to avoid them.
Milk is no doubt nutritious, but for diabetics, it is advised you count the calories in whole milk before you gulp down a glass or two everyday. Like fruit juices, milk too can be either healthy or unhealthy for you, depending upon the content of fat and sugar in it. Whole milk or full cream milk is high in calories, and can disturb your blood sugar levels. Opt for the healthier versions of milk, like skim and fat-free, and watch your portions.
Alcohol in any form is not healthy for diabetics. There are certain medicines, when combined with alcohol, cause a sudden spike or drop in blood sugar. Moreover, if you have it on an empty stomach, it can cause complications. Opt for sugar-free mixes rather than sugary fizz to go with your drink. It is also advised to check your blood sugar level before you consume alcohol.
Regular Coffee/Regular Tea/Flavored Coffee
Black coffee and green tea have their benefits for diabetics, but, regular tea, coffee, and flavored coffee may not be a good choice. Regular coffee served outside is laden with calories from sugar, milk, cream, and sweeteners. These will raise your blood sugar level drastically, all in a single serving of coffee. Powdered dessert coffees also have sugar and carbs. However, there are certain varieties that come in sugar-free versions.
We could say that, perhaps, there are things that you should completely avoid – like alcohol and fizzy sugary drinks, while some things need to be consumed in moderation – like milk and fruit juices. For diabetics, it is very important to know what kind of diet suits your body. Blood sugar levels may not react in the same way for all diabetic individuals, so consult your doctor to know how each drink is going to affect your blood glucose and insulin. Take care!
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be replaced for the advice of a medical professional. Consult your doctor/dietitian for any diet change.