Diabetes And Your Immune System
When your blood sugar is higher than it should be, that defense system starts to break down. One effect is increased inflammation throughout your body and especially in your blood vessels, which can lead to cardiovascular disease.
A weakened immune system also means you have an increased risk of contracting common infections like colds, flu, skin infections or pneumonia, and more serious ones like bone, joint, or heart infections. In fact, a study published in the journal Diabetes Care, found that people with diabetes are twice as likely to be hospitalized or die from a serious infection compared to those without diabetes.
Thats an important reason to manage your blood sugar. The closer to normal it stays throughout the day, the easier it is for your immune system to do its job. Heres what to aim for:
- If you have prediabetes, try to keep your fasting sugar below 100 mg/dL, and your A1c below 5.7%. Those numbers are considered normal no diabetes.
- If you have diabetes, the American Diabetes Association recommends working to keep your fasting or premeal blood sugar under 130 mg/dL, and your A1c under 7.0%.
Luckily, there are a few natural ways to improve your blood sugar and support your immune system at the same time. And hey, anything that kills two birds with one stone is good in my book!
The Bottom Line: Caffeine And Blood Sugar For Diabetes
Whether or not you choose to consume caffeine is up to you and your diabetes care team. If you have diabetes, just be aware of the various sources of caffeine and their respective dosages. In addition, some sources of caffeine are more healthful than others, so instead of grabbing a large bottle of sugary soda or a sugar-laden speciality coffee drink, try opting for an unsweetened tea or black/decaf coffee instead.
And remember, monitoring your own personal glycemic response to caffeine is important if you have type 2 diabetes. Everyone reacts differently to caffeine, and the only way to know how you respond is to see how your blood sugar reacts. In the end, knowing how your body responds to caffeine is the key to maintaining blood sugar balance!
Coffee With Added Ingredients
If you dont have diabetes but are concerned about developing it, be careful before increasing your coffee intake. There may be a positive effect from coffee in its pure form. However, the benefits arent the same for coffee drinks with added sweeteners or dairy products.
Creamy, sugary drinks found at cafe chains are often loaded with unhealthy carbs. Theyre also very high in calories.
The impact of the sugar and fat in a lot of coffee and espresso drinks can outweigh the good from any protective effects of the coffee.
The same can be said about sugar-sweetened and even artificially sweetened coffee and other beverages. Once sweetener is added, it increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Consuming too many added sugars is directly linked to diabetes and obesity.
Most big coffee chains offer drink options with fewer carbs and fat. Skinny coffee drinks allow you the morning wake-up or afternoon pick-me-up without the sugar rush.
Even for healthy individuals, the caffeine in coffee can have some side effects.
Caffeines common side effects include:
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Caffeine And Type 1 Diabetes
Have you ever noticed a difference in your blood sugar after drinking a cup of caffeinated coffee or tea? According to the Mayo Clinic, caffeine can indeed have an affect on your blood sugar levels causing lower or higher fluctuations. Being mindful of how much caffeine you consume will make blood sugar management easier.
Another study published by the ADA suggests that people with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes can reduce their risk of hypoglycemia during the night by having a small to moderate amount of caffeine before bed. Some people also claim that symptoms of hypoglycemia become more noticeable when incorporating caffeine into their diet.
The effects of caffeine can vary from person to person based on your bodys sensitivity to the stimulant. Some people report noticeable effects of caffeine on their blood sugar levels while others see little or not impact at all.
Lets explore some variables that could contribute to the shift in BG levels in relation to caffeine consumption.
The Long Term: Drinking Coffee Lowers Type 2 Diabetes Risk
If caffeines negative short-term effect on glucose metabolism is well established, so is coffees desirable impact on the risk of Type 2 diabetes. That coffee lowers ones risk of developing diabetes has been confirmed in multiplereviews, as well as in large population studies.
One study, which followed nearly 1900 adult men and women for a median duration of 5.8 years, found that adults who consumed at least one cup of coffee per week had a 22% lower risk for prediabetes and 34% risk reduction for Type 2 diabetes compared to people who didnt drink coffee. Another study, which followed around 88,000 women in the US with no history of diabetes, found that both regular and decaf coffee consumption for eight years seemed to lower the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, with regular coffee offering a slight edge over decaf. Drinking more cups was associated with lower riskwomen who drank one cup per day saw a 13% reduction in relative risk, while women who drank four or more cups saw a 47% reduction.
That decaf demonstrates nearly the same benefits as regular coffee suggests that something other than caffeine is driving the protective effect. The most likely candidate is chlorogenic acids, members of a group of antioxidant-rich micronutrients called polyphenols, abundant in plant-based foods.
Chlorogenic acids may improve glucose metabolism in several ways, according to studies in animals and cell lines:
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Drinking Coffee When You Have Diabetes
Diabetes is a condition that causes blood sugar levels that are higher than normal and the body cant properly create and use insulin.
- With type 1 diabetes, the body doesnt produce insulin. This is a hormone that helps glucose go from the bloodstream into the cells of the body.
- With type 2 diabetes, which is most common, the body doesnt produce insulin properly.
Diabetes can be controlled through proper diet, exercise, and medication or insulin that is prescribed by a doctor.
Another type of diabetes is gestational diabetes. This can start when a womans body is not able to make and use all the insulin that it needs for the pregnancy. This diagnosis doesnt mean that a patient had diabetes prior to pregnancy or a diagnosis will happen after conception. Gestational diabetes can be a temporary condition.
The best way to manage diabetes is through diet, exercise, and creating a plan with your doctor to keep your blood sugar controlled.
Although caffeine may help reduce the risk of diabetes, for those who have diabetes, it could create an issue. Studies show that caffeine can impair glucose tolerance and decrease insulin sensitivity.
What About The Caffeine In Coffee
Thereâs another twist to the story. Studies show that coffee may lower your odds of getting type 2 diabetes in the first place. Experts think thatâs because the drink is high in antioxidants. These compounds reduce inflammation in your system, which can raise your chance of having the disease.
If you already have type 2 diabetes, this may not hold true. The caffeine in a cup of java makes it tougher to control your blood sugar. If yours spikes after your morning cup, you may want to switch to decaf. Even though this drink has a tiny amount of caffeine, it doesnât have the same effect on your blood sugar or insulin.
FDA: âMedicines in My Home: Caffeine and Your Body.â
Diabetes Care: âAcute Effects of Decaffeinated Coffee and the Major Coffee Components Chlorogenic Acid and Trigonelline on Glucose Tolerance,â âCaffeine: A Cause of Insulin Resistance?â âCaffeine Can Decrease Insulin Sensitivity in Humans,â âCaffeine Increases Ambulatory Glucose and Postprandial Responses in Coffee Drinkers With Type 2 Diabetes,â âCoffee, Caffeine, and Type 2 Diabetes.â
Mayo Clinic: âCaffeine Content for Coffee, Tea, Soda and More,â âCaffeine: Does It Affect Blood Sugar?â âDiabetes: Complications,â âNutrition and Healthy Eating.â
Joslin Diabetes Center: âWhat Is Insulin Resistance?â
American Diabetes Association: âType 2.â
Sacha Uelmen, director of nutrition, American Diabetes Association.
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Coffee May Not Be To Blame
But what about the studies that show that coffee may protect against type 2 diabetes?
A year ago, The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that people who drank at least 3-4 cups of coffee per day3-4 cups of coffee per day had a nearly 30% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Here’s the catch. In the new study, caffeine came from a pill. But most people get their caffeine from drinks that have other ingredients.
“Coffee contains many other substances besides caffeine, such as potassium, antioxidants, and magnesium,” write the researchers, who included Robert Ross, PhD, of Queen’s University. Perhaps those other substances are helpful, but that’s not certain.
The study appears in the March issue of Diabetes Care.
Effects Of Added Ingredients
Although coffee in its pure form is known to have health benefits, many individuals want to reach for the additives to perfect that cup of java. Whether it is cream or non-caloric artificial sweeteners, the added sugar is not the best option for individuals with diabetes.
Adding sugar, syrups, non-caloric artificial sweeteners, and creams can have a negative effect on diabetes patients due to the sugar and carbohydrate content.
One study concluded that non-caloric artificial sweeteners may induce glucose intolerance and alter the gut microbiome in humans.
It is important to have a conversation with your doctor in regard to consuming coffee and adding sugar, sweetener, and other items to your drink. This is an important conversation to have so you can choose the right options. Your doctor can give the best recommendation based on your individual specific needs.
+ Circadian Clock Melatonin
Something all individuals practicing intermittent fasting should be aware of is that caffeine in coffee can reset our daily or circadian biological rhythms. Intermittent fasting also impacts of our circadian rhythms, usually in a positive way if we eat in tune with our daylight and active hours and fast longer overnight. But drinking coffee, especially later in the day, can delay our circadian melatonin rhythms by 40 minutes or more depending on the dose. Cyclic AMP actually plays a role here too the rising and lowering of cAMP levels helps our cells keep time, so to speak. By preventing the degradation of cAMP, caffeine lengthens the period of cellular circadian rhythms.
In other words, when exposed to caffeine our cells go through a kind of jetlag where their days get longer.
In summary, caffeine intake in the form of coffee can impact our circadian rhythms and lower our production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Its best for this reason to confine your coffee intake to early in the day, especially if improved sleep is one of the benefits youd like to glean from your daily intermittent fasting practice.
Does Coffee Raise Blood Pressure
May be we should asking the question, does caffeine raise blood pressure instead of asking about coffeee only.
Here are some salient facts.
Caffeine present in coffee and some teas is a vasoconstrictor. What does vasoconstriction mean in lay terms?
A vasoconstrictor is a substance capable of making the blood vessel wall less stretchy or less relaxed. You want your blood vessel walls to be relaxed as the blood is coursing through them.
Relaxed blood vessels have lower blood pressure because the compliant wall decreases the pressure within. A vasoconstrictor does the opposite of this. It makes the vessel wall stiffer and less compliant. Thats what a vasoconstrictor does.
Which means a vasoconstrictor, by having that pressor effect on the blood vessel wall, will raise your blood pressure. Thats just scientific fact. We cant escape that. And caffeine is a vasoconstrictor.
Which means your coffee because its got caffeine in it will have that same pressor effect I talked about. So, coffee will raise your blood pressure upon absorption of the caffeine in it. Fact!
But by how much?
Yes, coffee or caffeine will raise your blood pressure but how high should we expect the blood pressure to rise?
Well, good question but, even this query is not easy to give a ballpark figure. Because there are other variables to come into the mix and these variables confound the results of research too.
So factors like:
- Other lifestyle factors
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What Is It About Coffee That Affects Blood Sugar
The majority of people with diabetes see a spike in their blood sugar when drinking coffee, and its not a mystery that a lot of the cause can be attributed to the caffeine content in your morning cup.
According to the Mayo Clinic, for people with diabetes, about 200 milligrams of caffeine can cause a spike. Caffeine causes insulin resistance and can negatively affect postprandial blood sugar levels, essentially requiring you to take more insulin for foods eaten when you drink caffeinated beverages. Some people even need to bolus for drinking plain, unsweetened, black coffee that has no carbohydrates.
Ironically, long-term coffee consumption is associated with higher insulin sensitivity and lower rates of type 2 diabetes, but in the short term, the caffeine content causes a spike in blood sugars and lower insulin sensitivity. Caffeine is also an appetite suppressant, so its overall effect is sometimes balanced out.
The best option for people with diabetes who are struggling with blood sugar spikes post cup, however, may be to opt for decaf: drinking decaffeinated coffee seems to curb blood sugar spikes in individuals.
The Short Term: Caffeine Reduces Insulin Sensitivity
Since coffee on its own doesnt contain carbohydrates, simply drinking a cup shouldnt raise glucose levels. To test its effect on glucose metabolism, researchers typically ask study participants to consume either caffeine or coffee with a meal or an oral glucose tolerance test and then monitor their insulin and glucose levels. What theyve found is that insulin and glucose levels tend to rise. That suggests that caffeine causes a decrease in insulin sensitivity since the elevated insulin isnt bringing down the glucose increase from the ingested carbs. In other words, caffeine seems to impair insulins effectiveness. Research has shown that insulin sensitivity drops in response to a single dose of caffeine following 72 hours of caffeine avoidance. It also drops after high coffee consumption over four weeks, suggesting the body does not build a tolerance to caffeines effect on insulin over time.
Research shows the same effects in people with Type 2 diabetes, but the impact may last longer given their existing metabolic impairment. One study at Duke University looked at how consuming the caffeine equivalent of about five cups of coffeehalf at breakfast, half at lunchimpacted participants glucose levels throughout the day. It found that caffeine raised their glucose responses to breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as causing an increase in their overall average glucose for the day.
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Coffee And Prevention Of Diabetes
Coffee and its effect on risks of developing type 2 diabetes have been studied a number of times and has indicated a notably lower risk of type 2 diabetes being associated with coffee drinkers.
A study of healthcare professionals in the US and UK, published in 2014, showed that those that increased their consumption of coffee experienced an 11% decrease in risk of type 2 diabetes over the next 4 years.
Lattes And Syrups In Coffee
Some varieties of coffee need to be approached with caution by those of us with diabetes. Coffees with syrup have become a much more popular variety of coffee within the 21st Century but could be problematic for people either with or at risk of, diabetes.
If you have diabetes or are at risk of diabetes, it is advisable to reduce your exposure to too much sugar. If you wish to enjoy a syrupy coffee from time to time, pick the smaller sized cups and drink slowly to better appreciate the taste without dramatically raising your blood glucose levels.
Another modern trend in coffee is in the popularity of lattes, very milky coffees. Lattes present two considerations: the number of calories in the latte and the amount of carbohydrate in them.
Whilst skinny lattes are usually made with skimmed milk, some of them may be sweetened which will raise their calories. Milk, whether full fat or skimmed, tends to have around 5g of carbs per 100g. A regular, unsweetened skinny latte can typically contain anywhere between 10 and 15g of carbohydrate.
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How Much Caffeine Is Too Much
It only takes about 200 milligrams of caffeine to affect your blood sugar. Thatâs the amount in about one or two cups of brewed coffee or three or four cups of black tea.
You may be able to handle more or less caffeine. People can have different reactions to the drug. Your response depends on things like your age and weight.
How much caffeine you usually get may also play a role. People with diabetes who are regular coffee drinkers donât have higher blood sugar levels than those who arenât. Some experts think your body gets used to that amount of caffeine over time. But other research shows that caffeine could still cause a spike, even if you always start your day with a cup of joe.
To find out if caffeine raises your blood sugar, talk to your doctor or a dietitian. You might test your blood sugar throughout the morning after you have your usual cup of coffee or tea. Then youâll test after you skip the drink for a few days. When you compare these results, youâll know if caffeine has an impact.