Why are we talking about the relationship between coffee and diabetes? There are two good reasons. First, according to the United States Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if currents trends hold, approximately one-third to one-half of all American adults could develop diabetes by 2050!
Moreover, another one-third of all American adults would be in the pre-diabetes stage, so likely to develop it in their lifetime.
For your information, diabetes cuts ten to fifteen years off your lifespan on average and also significantly decreases the quality of life, especially in your later years.
We should all be looking for ways to reduce our risk of getting diabetes and ways to control it if we do.
This brings us to the second reason we're talking about the relationship between coffee and diabetes -- the subject has been controversial and we want to clear what's really going on.
Does 2 cups of coffee a day keep type 2 diabetes away?
In 2014, a group of collaborating scientists from Harvard University and the National University of Singapore published a large scale diabetes study in the peer-reviewed journal, Diabetologia.
The study followed the effect of coffee and tea consumption on the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes in 95,974 women and 27,759 men over primarily a four year period.
Amazingly, the study showed that in those individuals who increased their coffee consumption by one cup or more per day, they had an 11 percent lower chance of developing diabetes than those who did not increase their daily coffee consumption.
Equally interesting, people who reduced their coffee consumption by more than a cup per day had a 17 percent higher chance of developing diabetes than those who did not change their daily coffee consumption!
Several other smaller scale studies have shown that coffee seems to confer varying degrees of protection from developing diabetes. This has been popularized in health magazines, TV talk shows, and health blogs.
However, in other scientific studies, drinking coffee seems to increase type 2 diabetics' blood sugar after they eat and dramatically increase their insulin production.
In fact, one study conducted by a team of scientists at Duke University monitored the blood glucose of fourteen type 2 diabetics after doing different tasks during the day.
The researchers discovered that the diabetics' blood sugar rose sharply immediately after they took caffeine tablets that gave them the equivalent caffeine level of about two cups of coffee. Their blood sugar rose an average of eight percent higher than when they took a placebo containing no caffeine, especially when consumed with carbohydrates at mealtime.
These results were published in 2004 in Diabetes Care, published by the American Diabetes Association. Similar studies have found similar results. Caffeine in diabetics seems to increase after meal production of coffee.
How could this be?
How could some studies show coffee preventing the onset of diabetes while other studies show significant increases in the blood sugar and insulin levels of diabetics who take caffeine?
On the one hand, you have doctors telling their diabetic patients to cut way back on coffee, or eliminate it altogether, while other health advocates advise people to drink coffee to protect themselves from diabetes and other diseases like cancer.
Coffee and Diabetes - Who is right?
One clue as to what is actually going on comes from the 2014 study discussed above. Tea consumption in the same people, thousands of them, seemed to have no effect on the probability of developing diabetes!
Tea has just as much caffeine as coffee, sometimes more!
Even though fewer people drink tea than coffee, in a study involving 123,73 people, this is a large enough sample to show significant differences in the tea drinkers, if there was one.
To top this off, doctors and other health professionals are reporting that decaffeinated coffee seems to help diabetics control their blood sugar levels.
For a long time, people had just assumed that it was the caffeine in coffee that made the difference with type 2 diabetes. However, it does not appear to be that simple!
While caffeine seems to escalate blood sugar production after meals in diabetics, coffee seems to help control blood sugar overall!
It turns out that it is likely other chemical substances in coffee, not the caffeine, that is helping to lower blood sugar.
These include very powerful polyphenol antioxidants like trigonelline, which has already been proven to lower blood sugar in laboratory animals!
In fact, there are literally thousands of different polyphenol antioxidants that are likely working synergistically to produce the blood sugar lowering effect that coffee confers.
Additionally, coffee has a high concentration of the minerals chromium and magnesium, both of which are so well known to help fight insulin resistance, many doctors recommend these supplements to their diabetic patients.
However, these minerals work much better when taken in organic form in coffee and other foods.
There are also proteins in coffee like sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) which have already been scientifically proven to lower blood sugar and decrease insulin resistance!
Another protein in coffee that is showing great promise is adiponectin. Several studies have shown elevated levels of both sex hormone-binding globulin and adiponectin in coffee drinkers who experience a positive effect of coffee lowering blood sugar levels overall.
We probably don't need to mention this but if you add sweeteners of any kind to your coffee, you will negate any benefits that coffee gives in lowering blood sugar and preventing the onset of diabetes.
The same is true for artificial sweeteners that have also been shown to have a negative impact on blood sugar. Try to drink your coffee black and encourage your family members and friends to do the same.
Additionally, drinking dark roast coffee can help even more since the caffeine levels are lower than light roast and medium roast coffees.
Unfortunately, the decaffeination process can destroy some of the other chemicals found in coffee that confers the advantages of lowering blood sugar.
Finally, even if you yourself never develop diabetes, there is a very high chance that someone in your family and or one or more of your close friends will.
It is a good idea to educate everyone you care about regarding the relationship between coffee and diabetes.
For best results, the goal should be to drink dark roasted coffee, black only. Drink it in moderation so you don't get too much caffeine but you do get a good daily dose of all the substances coffee has to offer that prevent diabetes from developing and control blood sugar levels.