|You probably already know that drinking sugar-sweetened beverages increases your risk of type-2 diabetes. But how about sugar-free drinks? Is there a risk there? And also, does the caffeine in the drink make a difference? A new study has some answers to these questions that just might surprise you.
Researchers at the Departments of Nutrition and Epidemiology at Harvard followed 74,749 women and 39,059 men for an average of 13 years. All of the men and women were free of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Of these, 7,370 of them ended up getting type-2 diabetes. The researchers then eliminated any of the major lifestyle and dietary risk factors like stress, lack of physical fitness, smoking, poor diets, etc. The only factors they wanted to look at were the effects of caffeine, caffeine-free sugar sweetened, and artificially sweetened drinks.
The first thing that they found is that caffeine has an anti-diabetic effect. Who would have guessed? The women drinking sugar-sweetened drinks without caffeine had a 13% increased chance of getting diabetes. But those taking the same drinks with caffeine had an 11% chance. A 2% less chance when you add the caffeine. Not much of a difference. But the story is better for the men. Caffeine reduced their risk by 7%. But what about the artificially sweetened drinks?
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Artificially sweetened drinks actually increased the risk of developing diabetes by 6%! How did that happen? Some studies have shown that artificial sweeteners inhibit the effects of insulin. Others have shown that they cause weight gain. Whatever the reason, the same drinks did not cause diabetes if they contained caffeine. According to the authors, "Only caffeine-free artificially sweetened intake was associated with a higher risk of diabetes of 6%."
The data shows that there is something about the way caffeine works in the body that decreases the chance of diabetes, especially for men. In fact when the researchers looked at those who just drank coffee, they found that they had an 8% decreased chance of diabetes compared to those who did not drink it.
I have always liked coffee. Studies show it to have a protective effect from every disease and condition studied so far, including hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and dementia. Now we can add diabetes to that list. Of course, every substance including water has its toxic limit. I have found that most people do well with a limit of two cups (16 ounces) per day. My grandmother lived to be a very healthy 99 year old woman before she started to go downhill. She drank four cups per day and never exercised. Go figure.
If you don't drink coffee, tea, or soft drinks, you can get a very small amount of caffeine from Green Tea Extract. Plus, you'll get all the additional benefits that green tea offers – but you won't get the bitter taste.
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