Drinking coffee regularly could reduce risk of type 2 diabetes by 53%

Type 2 diabetes can be a 'devastating diagnosis' says expert

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Type 2 diabetes means your pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin or the insulin it does produce can’t work properly. Stripped of this key mechanism, your blood sugar levels can rise to dangerous heights. Fortunately, research suggests that a popular drink could stave off the blood sugar condition in some.

The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is projected to continue rising, with women, who suffered from gestational diabetes, facing a ten-fold higher risk.

In case you aren’t aware, gestational diabetes describes high blood sugar that develops during a pregnancy.

Fortunately, research, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggests that this risk could be slashed by enjoying coffee.

Celebrated for its stimulating effects, a cup of coffee offers more than a pleasant energy boost.

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This popular black drink has been previously linked to a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes in the general population. 

However, whether its beneficial effects translate to women who had gestational diabetes remained unknown.

To investigate this, the research team looked at the roles of long-term coffee consumption after complicated pregnancy and the subsequent risk of type 2 diabetes among women with a history of gestational diabetes.

They included more than 4,500 predominantly white female participants, who had a history of gestational diabetes, during a 25-year period.

The findings suggested that those who drank one cup of caffeinated coffee or less, two to three cups, and four and more cups a day, saw their risk of type 2 diabetes fall by 10 percent, 17 percent and 53 percent respectively.

This powerful effect is likely due to the bioactive components in coffee, such as polyphenols, which are naturally-occurring plant micronutrients. 

Bioactive components describe types of chemicals found in small amounts in plants and certain foods – think fruits, vegetables, nuts, oils, and whole grains.

However, decaffeinated coffee was not associated with the risk of type 2 diabetes in their study. 

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The researchers explained that this null finding might be due to the relatively small number of women, who consumed decaffeinated coffee, in the study.

What’s more, replacing artificially sweetened and sugar-sweetened beverages with caffeinated coffee also slashed the risk.

Professor Cuilin Zhang, Director of the Global Centre for Asian Women’s Health, said: “Thus far, the overall findings suggest that caffeinated coffee, when consumed properly (two to five cups per day, without sugar and whole-fat/high-fat dairy), could be incorporated into a relatively healthy lifestyle for certain population.

“Coffee is a popular beverage choice in Singapore, but local coffee drinking culture and behaviours may vary among individuals, such as brewing methods, drinking frequency, and other condiments contained in the coffee. 

“Thus, more studies are needed to examine the roles of coffee consumption in the local context with major health outcomes.”

While coffee seems to offer some compelling benefits, the researchers warned that the effects can vary greatly depending on the type you drink.

Dr Jiaxi Yang, the first author of the study, added: “Although coffee presents as a potentially healthier alternative to sweetened beverages, the health benefits of coffee vary and much depend on the type and the amount of condiments, like sugar and milk, that you add into your coffee.” 

Furthermore, this hot drink shouldn’t be enjoyed in excessive amounts and certain people should be careful about drinking coffee. For example, not much is known about the effects of coffee on pregnancies, foetuses and children.

The NHS stresses that pregnant people shouldn’t have more than 200mg of caffeine per day, with 100mg being the equivalent of a mug of instant coffee.

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