Does Drinking Coffee Affect
Diabetes? | A Comprehensive
Review

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April 10, 2010, last updated April 14, 2013
By Susan M. Callahan, Health Editor and Featured Columnist
[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by Registered Nurses, Certified
fitness trainers and other members of our Editorial Board]


A hot cup of coffee. Many of us can’t imagine starting the day
without it.  But if you're diabetic ---and the Centers for Disease
Control estimates that 24 million of us are now diabetic and
another 41 million of us are pre-diabetic --- the most important
question is  does that cup of coffee affect your diabetes? Does
coffee help to lower blood sugar and manage diabetes?  Or
would you be better off skipping that steaming cup of java?

Here in America, we can’t get enough of our java.  You can find
a coffee shop  almost anywhere and everywhere, from
designer coffee at Starbucks, to simple coffee in styrofoam
cups at Dunkin’ Donuts or  McDonald’s.   And of course there
are the now ubiquitous coffee pots or vending machines in our
offices.  

But compared with the rest of the world, we don’t drink a lot
of coffee at all.   According to the World Resource Institute, the
Finns are the world’s heaviest coffee drinkers, downing an
average of 26 pounds  (12  kilograms) of coffee each year,  
almost 3 times more than the  American average of 9.2 pounds
(4.2 kilograms) a year.

We have pulled together the existing research studies on the
link between coffee consumption and your risk for developing
diabetes.  Here are the results of that comprehensive review.
We’ll first answer the question of whether coffee lowers your
risk for developing diabetes. And, if you’re not already diabetic,
will drinking coffee reduce your risk for developing diabetes
one day?

























Does Coffee Reduce Your Risk for Getting Diabetes?


Coffee does in fact appear to significantly reduce your risk for
developing diabetes. But there’s a catch. You have to drink a
lot of it.  Most of the studies which have looked that looked at
the question have found very little effect on diabetic risk for
those who drink between zero and 5 cups a day. That’s 5 cups
a day.  

For those who drink over 5 cups a day, the news is good.
Heavy coffee drinkers have up to a 30% lower risk for
diabetes.  A 2008 mega-study from the University of Minnesota
examined medical data of 36,908 Singaporean women between
the ages of 45 and 71. The researchers  found that women
who drank 4 cups of coffee had a 30% lower risk of
developing diabetes. By the way, those who drank 1.1 cups of
black tea a day had a 14% lower incidence of diabetes.

As for those coffee-drinking Finns, a 1983 study by Dr. Antti
Reunanen estimated that the average incidence of Type 2
diabetes in Finland is 4 per 100 persons, or 0.4%. This
compares to an incidence rate of 9% among Americans, about
22.5 times higher than the Finns.

But what if you’re
already diabetic. Can coffee help to lower
your blood sugar readings?  Let’s look at two different types of
readings. Your fasting blood sugar level is the reading most
diabetics take first thing in the morning, before breakfast.  Two
hours after you eat, a second level called the “postprandial”
blood sugar level,  is taken.

Does Coffee Lower Your Fasting Blood Sugar Level ?

Say you’re diabetic or just interested in reducing your morning
fasting blood sugar readings? Will coffee help you?  The
answer appears to be no.  

Two important studies have examined the effect of coffee on
fasting blood sugar readings.  A 2002  study from Vrije
University in the Netherlands found that drinking more coffee
(5 cups a day) lowers the risk that you will eventually develop
diabetes but does not affect your fasting blood sugar level. The
affects on your sugar levels later in the day is another matter,
as you will see below.

Does Coffee Lower Your 2 -Hour  (Postprandial) Blood Sugar
Levels?

Here there’s good news. Coffee has been found to lower the
amount of sugar that your body metabolizes within 2 hours of
eating. It reduces the “loading” of sugar into your blood after
eating.  The same  2002 study from Vrije University in the
Netherlands which found that coffee has no effect on your
morning blood sugar levels found something entirely different
when it comes to your 2-hour readings after eating.

They found that those who drink 5 cups of coffee a day  had
8.8% lower postprandial (2-hour) blood sugar readings than
those who drank less coffee. That’s significant. If you have a
normal 2-hour reading of 140, the coffee might reduce that
reading to 128, a drop of 12 points.

When You Drink Your Coffee Matters

Here’s a shocking result. When you drink your coffee matters a
lot. A study from the University of Sao Paolo in Brazil studied
data on  69,532 French women, aged 41 to 72. They found
that  those who drank coffee at lunchtime  experienced 27%
lower risk for developing diabetes than those who drank less
coffee.  

It is worth noting that in this study those who drank the most
coffee consumed 3 cups a day or more,  2 cups less than the
heaviest coffee drinkers in most  the other coffee studies.


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