Humans are bestowed with the gift of a body that can achieve the unachievable if put to work in the right direction and cherished. However, with the advent of fast food, we fail to honor its functionality and succumb to unhealthy eating habits. Stuffing the stomach with too much junk food and sugary drinks can lead to chronic disorders such as diabetes.
Diabetes is the result of an increase in blood glucose levels in the body. This increase is a result of low or no production of insulin by pancreatic glands since it is the very hormone that helps sugar reach the cells for energy consumption. Since the level of glucose in blood increases, one becomes diabetic. The augmentation of glucose levels in blood doesn’t happen overnight and is, unfortunately, irreversible damage to the body.
Diabetes can either be a “borderline” issue or affect the patients gravely. On this basis, it is categorized into Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, and Gestational diabetes.
1. Types of Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is common among children and young adults whose bodies do not make insulin at all. This lack of function is because the immune system in the body attacks and destroys the cells that produce this hormone in the pancreatic cells already. Therefore, the patients are supposed to stay away from sugar strictly and take insulin regularly to lead a healthy life.
On the other hand, Type 2 diabetes can develop in a body at any age and is often found in middle-aged or older people. Here also, the body stops or lowers the production of insulin, resulting in a regular glucose high, which can be dealt with through regular exercise and healthy eating habits.
Gestational diabetes, as the name suggests, is only found among women who are pregnant. It can either be a temporary disorder or might stay with them for a lifetime as Type 2 diabetes.
2. How to Reduce the Risk of Encountering Type 2 Diabetes
Now that you know what diabetes has in store for you and are looking for ways to avoid falling prey to this disease, research can help you learn about the beverages that increase the risk of diabetes.
Often, the people experiencing diabetes or high blood sugar issues live under the illusion that by avoiding sugary drinks and sticking to their “diet” alternatives will save them from the hazards of the disease. However, recent studies suggest otherwise.
An intelligent way to counter the risk of becoming diabetic is to switch to better drinking alternatives than what you are drinking already. Recent research conducted by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health suggests that people who prefer sodas and natural fruit juices regularly are at moderately high risk for Type 2 diabetes.
The researchers conducted this study by collecting the data of a staggering 192,000 participants over 26 years. The data — their general health reports — were studied every four years.
Once the research was over, the scientists inferred that people are at a 16% higher risk of encountering Type 2 diabetes if they are more inclined towards sugar-sweetened sodas and 100 percent fruit juices. Well, no matter what, the increased inclination of people towards drinks is certainly annoying while they know the increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and other health disasters associated with sugary beverages.
If you believe the same, you are not alone. Even the doctors and researchers believe that individuals must rather spend on stuff they can eat rather than consuming drinks, which give them nothing but sugar and calories. A health coach, Alexis Elliott, who specializes in people dealing with diabetes, obesity, and related disorders, says that “I don’t understand why you’d want to spend those calories and sugar intake on a drink versus something you can eat.”
What frustrates the well-wishers like Alexis more is the fact that even though people are aware of how sugary such drinks and sodas can be, but they still drink them because they do not know that how badly they are affecting their health. In fact, many of them fail to understand that such beverages contain more sugar than one Skittles bag.
For instance, a 12-ounce can of cola contains 39 grams of sugar, which is a lot when you compare it with a quarter cup of skittles, that is, 29 grams. Other than that, a 12-ounce glass of orange juice can leave you with 30.9 grams more of sugar, which your insulin might have a hard time distributing.
Moreover, if you are a fan of Starbuck’s Chai tea Latte, then you are consuming 32 grams of sugar with every 12th ounce of it.
Since 100 percent fruit juices are extracted from the fruit right in front of the consumers, they start to believe that they are as good as consuming the fruit. However, when consuming juices, one is only drinking the water content of the fruit along with its sugar, while most of the fiber and nutrients in the fruit is thrown away. Therefore, the juice-makers and other gadgets are just making money by telling you that juices are the healthiest choice you can make. Whereas, eating fruit would do you better and keep the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes away from you.
Alexis rightly put it as she said, “below the neck, your body doesn’t know the difference between apple juice and sugar water, but it does know the difference between an actual apple and a cup of fruit juice — even if it’s 100 percent juice.”
Now that you are aware of how fruit juices are nothing but sugary water that you are consuming with complete satisfaction of being healthy do not rush to the diet soda vendors for your daily refreshment. This notion is because the study also shows the possibility of an increased risk of diabetes among people who drink diet soda regularly by 18 percent. Even though the risk of Type 2 diabetes among individuals consuming artificially sweetened beverages (ASBs) frequently is higher, the inference is subject to many variables.
As per the reports, “the findings regarding ASBs should be interpreted with caution due to the possibility of reverse causation (individuals already at high risk for diabetes may switch from sugary beverages to diet drinks) and surveillance bias (high-risk individuals are more likely to be screened for diabetes and thus diagnosed more rapidly),”
Also, Aspartame, which is a common substitute for sugar used in diet sodas, has been tested before. It is believed to be safe for individuals as it does not raise the blood sugar levels immediately. However, a study conducted in 2018 shows that this element of a diet soda is potential enough to affect the cortisol levels and insulin resistance in the body.
Consequently, switching to diet sodas instead of regular sodas is not the answer; it is to focus on drinking more water instead of sweetened beverages.
7. Should you Drop Soda Altogether from Your Diet?
After reading everything about how sodas and juices can bring you closer to Type 2, diabetes might make you want to quit these pleasures altogether. Then again, you can have them in moderation.
If you are really fond of sodas and juices, you can start consuming them in moderation. Also, you can find better alternatives to these drinks and switch to them now and then. The most common options that even the doctors suggest are unsweetened coffee, tea, and plain water for when you feel like drinking something.
One of the senior authors of the study, as well as a professor of nutrition and epidemiology, Dr. Frank Hu, MPH, said in a press release that, “The study results are in line with current recommendations to replace sugary beverages with noncaloric beverages free of artificial sweeteners. Although fruit juices contain some nutrients, their consumption should be moderated.”
According to the fitness coach Elliot, “Sugar can be more addictive than heroin.” It is only because we are exposed to it so much that the society has failed to recognize it as an addictive substance, and its taste blends in with everyone’s favorite treats (some of which would not even have been possible without sugar). This large-scale acceptability of sugar makes it even harder for doctors to make their patients avoid it.
Many times, the individuals make seemingly harmless choices such as flavored cream to top their hot coffee. However, what they do not realize is that these tiny servings of sweeteners are loaded with sugar that can bring you closer to being diabetic. She said, “I have so many clients who can’t quit those sugar-sweetened coffee creamers, and there’s so much sugar in one tiny serving.”
Even though sugar is not necessarily addictive, the diet sodas and regular aerated beverages contain caffeine, which is! Yes, if you have been in the habit of picking up one pop every day, you will gradually start consuming a couple in some time. The reason for this changed behavior of yours is not your increased appetite but addiction to caffeine.
As Elliot put it, “this happens with caffeine very easily… You used to drink 1 cup of coffee, but now you don’t feel like yourself until you’ve had at least 2 or 3 cups.”
The effect of consumption of alcoholic beverages is subjective and mainly depends upon what type of alcohol is being consumed. The Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery conducted a 2012 on the effects of alcohol consumption of the Swedish population suggested that males who consume alcohol regularly are more likely to fall prey to Type 2 diabetes.
On the other hand, the very research reveals that women who consume wine show a two percent decrease in vulnerability to Type 2 diabetes as compared to those who prefer other beverages over wine. Red wine, when consumed moderately, has turned out to be a substance that can help people combat the risk of becoming diabetic. However, there is no concrete evidence that can justify the statement other than the fact that it is rich in antioxidants and low in carbohydrates when compared with other alcoholic drinks.
Still, there is a lot of scope of research when it comes to establishing a link between alcoholic beverages and the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Apart from alcoholic beverages, another vice we can relate to the increased chance of Type 2 diabetes is smoking tobacco. If you are a chain smoker, you are at a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes as compared to those who don’t.
If you are into an intense fitness regimen or similar activities that require you to do a lot of manual labor, energy drinks are probably meant for you. If not, then you should not consume them unless needed because they are high in caffeine and carbohydrate content.
There is no denying the fact that increased consumption of caffeine can cause severe nervousness, a sharp rise in blood pressure, and lead to chronic insomnia. Therefore, it is dire for your health. Then again, the disadvantages of consuming too many energy drinks do not end here since they are high in carbohydrates that might put a lot of pressure on the pancreas to produce more insulin to distribute the energy. Moreover, if you are not active enough, this energy might give rise to insulin resistance in the body, giving way to Type 2 diabetes in your system.
Since you have read enough about the beverages that can augment the risk of Type 2 diabetes for you, it is only fair that we take you through some other options that can help you resist diabetes easily. Most of them are zero or low caloric beverages that satisfy your thirst and do not add to the burden of the pancreas.
Some lime juice or a squeeze of lemon in a glass of water are great examples of drinks that will give your day a low-calorie start. Other options, such as milk and vegetable juice, are also beneficial but only when consumed in moderation. If not, they can also become the catalysts for introducing diabetes in your body.
Whether or not you are already dealing with diabetes, water is the best beverage to keep yourself hydrated on a hot summer day without falling prey to the devil that is diabetes. Water does not contribute any caffeine in your body, saving you from hyped blood sugar levels, which is also a reason why people suffer dehydration mostly.
Another advantage of drinking the right amount of water and staying hydrated is that water cleanses your system and removes excess glucose from the body in the form of urine. Therefore, it is recommended that men should drink about 13 glasses of water a day and women 8-9. Then again, the consumption of water is subject to each body because if you drink more water than your kidneys can handle, it can put a lot of pressure on them.
If you have been into sugary drinks and sodas till now and are finding it difficult to cut back on the habit, you can try adding a little twist to your glass of water and make it enjoyable. Here are some techniques you can try:
Squeeze a little lemon into your glass and top it up with slices of orange and lime to give it the citrus flavor you love. This taste satisfies your cravings to a great extent and will provide Vitamin C as well.
Add tiny springs of your preferred herbs such as basil, thyme, mint, or lemon balm into the water bottle can infuse a pleasing aroma into it, acting as good as a therapy.
Crush a couple of raspberries into your drink for that little punch of freshness and sweetness.
Well, there is no end to variations you can add to your water and make it more desirable as a drink. The key is to stay away from sugars and adding only healthier and natural ingredients to it.
Various researches conducted for determining the effects of green tea or unsweetened teas and green tea on the human body indicate that it has numerous positive health benefits. Generally, it helps in reducing blood pressure and lower the LDL cholesterol in the body, which can be extremely harmful.
However, consuming green tea once a day won’t suffice if you want to stay diabetes-free for the rest of your lives. According to the research, one can reduce their vulnerability to diabetes only if they consume as many as 6 cups of green tea every day. Then again, these studies could not come up with concrete evidence for the same.
By suggesting green tea, we are not advising you to stick to it. You can also opt for multiple variants of herbal tea by directly infusing your favorite herbs into a boiling cup of water and letting it stay. For a refreshing taste, you can create a blend of herbs and store them dry. Or, you can use the fresh herbs from your garden to make tea. Chilling it if you like your beverages cold is another option you can opt for, along with adding some lemon juice in it for more taste.
Moreover, you can find ready packaging of Earl Grey and jasmine tea in a nearby store. It depends on your caffeine requirements, whether you want to consume them or not.
A prospective cohort study in younger and middle-aged American women, conducted in 2012, discovered that the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes could decrease in women who consume two to three cups of coffee every day. This finding holds for both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee. So, if you are not inclined towards caffeine as much, how about a couple of decafs every day!
However, as with tea, the key with coffee is also that you should consume it without any sugar. Condiments such as milk, cream, and sugar will only increase its calorie count, putting more pressure on your pancreas to secrete insulin. Moreover, if they are not able to do so, your blood sugar level will rise, leading to Type 2 diabetes.
Since fruit juices only contribute to increased calorie count, you can always substitute them with healthier vegetable juices for your liquid diet. They are not only adaptable to multiple combinations but contain no sugar and are incredibly useful for keeping the gut mechanism in shape.
A blend of celery, your favorite leafy vegetables, cucumbers, tomatoes, and gourds with a handful of berries for the tartness will act as a complete meal loaded with vitamins and minerals.
No matter how conscious about the increased risk of diabetes you are, you cannot avoid the importance of dairy into your daily regime. They not only contain helpful minerals but also add the much-needed carbohydrates to your diet. Moreover, the unsweetened and toned variety of milk is extremely low in calories, retaining all the goodness of dairy.
So, if you are looking for a substitute for milk, you don’t have to go too far and opt for healthier options such as dairy-free milk such as almond milk, coconut milk, and other such variants. Yogurt and tofu, for that matter, are good options too. For those wondering why soy milk and rice milk are not mentioned here, they are high in carbohydrates, so their consumption should be regulated accordingly.
17. Other Ways to Reduce the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Prevention is better than cure, and this is what this article is all about. However, the prevention of Type 2 diabetes does not limit it to avoiding the consumption of certain beverages. Instead, it is about opting for a healthier, more active lifestyle.
Yes, habits such as regular physical activity, consumption of healthier foods, and bidding farewell to vices such as smoking will help you a great deal in preventing diabetes even if you are pre-diabetic. Continue reading for some simple steps that you can consider to lower the risk of diabetes.
You would be shocked to know that if you are over-weight, your chances of becoming diabetic in the near future can multiply seven-fold!
Obesity is known as the single most prominent cause of diabetes among the middle-aged and older people. Or, if you want to prevent your body from developing symptoms of the disease, begin with managing your weight by working out regularly. Furthermore, you can opt for healthier eating options that are elaborated in the following points.
One of the reasons why the insulin secreted by the pancreas is not able to diffuse glucose properly is because the already stored sugar is not yet utilized. Therefore, people who are mostly inactive fall prey to Type 2 diabetes. So, if you want to prevent the disease, you should work your muscles harder every day.
Working out doesn’t necessarily have to mean hitting the gym and sweating out in the heat. Instead, it is when you take some time out of your sedentary lifestyle to indulge in activities that require some physical effort – it may be a sport or a brisk walk in the park.
While we won’t advise you to starve yourself, you can substitute your diet for healthier options instead of munching on those fries and chips when watching TV. Maybe once in a while is okay, but how often are you sitting around doing these unhealthy activities?
Skipping sugary drinks, opting for whole grains, consuming healthy fats, and limiting the consumption of red meat are some hacks that should do the trick for you. Not only will these new snacking methods help you reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes, but these habits will help with other health ailments as well.
Individuals who smoke regularly are 50 percent more likely to develop diabetic disorders as compared to those who do not. Therefore, you should take the help of a professional to quit smoking altogether because, apart from diabetes, there is no end to the health implications it can have.
Alcohol consumption might be seen as less of a vice as compared to smoking. But this doesn’t mean that it does not affect your health at all. Studies have shown that excessive consumption of alcohol can heighten the risk of diabetes. On the contrary, some studies have also shown that moderate consumption can help keep your health in shape and reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes by two percent. That is if regular exercise and healthy foods accompany consumption.
In the end, unlike Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes is not genetic. It can be avoided with better eating habits and not falling for false diet soda advertising that calls it a completely sugar-free drink.