Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Effects of Caffeine On Diabetics

Most of us need caffeine, be it tea or coffee, to jump start our battery in the morning. Hubby is no exception. In fact, he takes caffeine throughout the day, most of it in the form of coffee. Ever since he discovered that he is diabetic last Monday, he has been taking his coffee plain: black, no sugar. 

Let me sidetrack for a moment here. When I was in Penang, I visited my uncle on my mum's side, and was shocked to see what Parkinson's Disease (PD) did to him. Coming back to KL, I read up on PD, and found that caffeine and green tea contain properties that reduces the risk of PD. Nicotine, too, ironically. But that's another story, which will be in another post. For this post, we'll concern ourselves with caffeine.

While reading up tons of material on diabetes, I stumbled upon a single sentence: "Those with diabetes type 2 should avoid caffeine." I sat up. What?? And so embarked upon a research on caffeine and diabetes.

After having sifted through tons of material, I'm conflicted. There are reports that caffeine and green tea are health food, and reduces diabetes risk. It is claimed that the quinines found in caffeine increases the sensitivity to insulin, hence less insulin is needed to regulate the glucose in the blood (see http://tiny.cc/xdcv2 and http://tiny.cc/ma2aa and http://tiny.cc/ocnl9). Diabetes Type 2 is caused by decreased sensitivity to insulin, and the pancreas has to produce more insulin, which will one day wear itself out and fail. That is why hubby was prescribed medication to increase his sensitivity to insulin.

But there are lots more reports that contradict those findings. There were studies that showed that when Diabetic Type 2 patients were given caffeine, their blood glucose level spiked 8% (see http://tiny.cc/8kvbz and http://tiny.cc/s03c8 and http://tiny.cc/nnvp8). 

So, which group is right? And the samples taken are rather small, to provide an accurate result. When hubby first heard that he might have to give up coffee, too, his reaction was not unexpected: he'd rather die from diabetes than give up coffee.

If I have to venture my personal opinion, I would say on the surface, it looks like coffee should be avoided. BUT on closer look at the composition of coffee, I think (warning: I may be wrong here, so don't rely on my opinion if you have diabetes) coffee on its own has its beneficial properties. It is the caffeine in it that decreases the sensitivity to insulin. So, the solution may be to drink decaf coffee, and in moderation. (See http://tiny.cc/f9n74 for the composition of coffee)