Is coffee good for people with diabetes, or should I avoid it?
Ask Dana: Simple Solutions to your Diabetes Dilemmas
I have heard many different opinions about drinking coffee and I never know if it is something that I should avoid drinking. And sometimes I even notice that my blood sugars rise after drinking a morning coffee even if I haven’t eaten any carbohydrates! What is the final word on the health benefits of coffee for people with diabetes and should I avoid drinking it? – Emily Harris from Dillon, Colorado
The information on caffeine and coffee drinks can be a bit confusing, and even more so for those living with diabetes. Even without sugary syrups and creamers, the caffeine in a coffee may cause a rise in blood sugars. Some people with diabetes may even notice that the time of day impacts blood sugars from caffeine. As an example, one may be more sensitive to a rise in blood sugars in the morning and less in the afternoon hours because of certain hormones. And, don’t forget about the strength of the brew. Strong brewed coffee will have more caffeine and create greater spikes in blood sugars.
Despite a potential rise in blood sugars, moderate amounts of caffeine coffee drinks can be part of a healthy diet. Moderate coffee intake is between 2 to 5 cups of coffee a day. At this amount, research has shown a potential lowering of risk of developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even some cancers. There is also a benefit of caffeine beverages for improving energy and gut health and metabolism. Research has not shown any relationship between caffeine and high blood pressure but has shown a potential decreased risk in developing Parkinson’s disease. However, people widely differ in how they metabolize caffeine based on genetic and physiological factors. These differences can also exacerbate anxiety and insomnia tendencies.
There are practical ways to manage drinking coffee and enjoying your morning cup of joe– without a rise in blood sugars. Reach out to your health care team or contact an IDS educator and relax with a mug of your favorite dark roast.
Dana is a Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist and Registered Dietitian. She holds certifications in insulin pump therapy and obesity interventions for adults. Dana received a Master’s in Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago after receiving a Bachelor’s in Science with Honors at the University of Texas at Austin. After college, Dana served as an AmeriCorp volunteer on a variety of health education initiatives and played a key role in establishing the first school-based health clinic in the city of Chicago.