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What You Drink Makes a Difference

Hopefully, when you were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (T2D), your doctor spent a lot of time discussing the additional health complications involved with T2D. Proper blood sugar management is key to reducing these risks.

People living with diabetes are not only at higher risk for all-cause mortality than their diabetes-free counterparts but also at higher risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD).1

Thankfully, there is plenty of research that can give us insight into lifestyle changes that may decrease these risks. A study published in the BMJ (British Medical Journal) has found that beverage choices can affect the health of those with diabetes.2

The study findings on cardiovascular disease risk

This specific study followed 15,496 men and women for up to 38 years. Beverage choices were reported on a food frequency questionnaire that the participants updated every 2 to 4 years. This type of questionnaire asks how often you eat certain foods. Participants were asked how frequently they drank water, tea, coffee, and sugar-sweetened beverages, as well as full-fat and low-fat milk.2

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The study found that participants with a higher intake of sugar-sweetened beverages over the study period had a higher all-cause mortality and CVD incidence. Participants who drank coffee, tea, plain water, and low-fat milk had a lower all-cause mortality incidence.2

These findings show the role of healthy, low-sugar beverage choices in managing the risk of CVD and premature death in adults with T2D.2

How do beverages impact CVD risk?

In the study, people who had higher fat or sugar intake through beverages were at higher risk for cardiovascular disease and death than those with lower fat or sugar intake.2

Here are some examples of beverages with high sugar levels:

  • Pop and soda
  • Fruit juice
  • Gatorade
  • Powerade
  • Coffee drinks with sweeteners
  • Specialty tea or coffee drinks with syrups or flavors
  • Lemonade
  • Iced tea with added sugar, or sweet tea

Here are some examples of beverages with high fat levels:

  • Whole milk
  • 2% milk
  • Milkshakes
  • Coffee with creamer such as half and half
  • Specialty coffee drinks made with full fat or 2% milk

What are better beverage options for diabetes?

If you frequently drink any of the beverages listed above, it may be time to consider some changes. Here are some examples of drinks to choose instead:

  • Water
  • Black coffee without added sugar or cream
  • Herbal tea
  • 1% or skim milk
  • Almond milk

Sticking to changes

Dietary changes can be very difficult to make, especially if certain beverages have been part of your daily intake for many years. Often, it works well to slowly cut down on things so that your tastebuds can adjust to less flavor. Also, it may not be necessary to cut all of these high-fat and high-sugar beverages out of your diet. Instead, cut down on the frequency of your intake.

If you have specific questions about your beverage or food intake, reach out to your doctor or a registered dietitian.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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