Lower diabetes risk with just one glass of water

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

Reaching for a cola or other sweetened drink when your throat is parched is a habit that ups your intake of empty calories from sugar. New research implies that even replacing one serving of a sugar-sweetened drink with water can lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

According to the press release accompanying the publication, if you drink too many sweet drinks you could be increasing your risk of developing type two diabetes by as much as 18%. This increase comes into effect for each 5% increase of a person’s total energy intake provided by sweet drinks.

But if you replace one serving of a sugary drink daily with water or unsweetened tea or coffee, you could lower diabetes risk by between 14% and 25%, the study found.

The study included more than 25,000 men and women in the age group of 40-79 years who lived in Norfolk, UK. Participants took note of all they ate and drank for seven consecutive days, with attention to type, amount and frequency of consumption, and whether sugar was added by the participants. During approximately 11 years of follow-up, 847 of the study participants were diagnosed with new-onset type 2 diabetes.

Lead scientist Nita Forouhi, of the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge, said, “By using this detailed dietary assessment with a food diary, we were able to study several different types of sugary beverages, including sugar-sweetened soft drinks, sweetened tea or coffee and sweetened milk drinks as well as artificially sweetened beverages (ASB) and fruit juice, and to examine what would happen if water, unsweetened tea or coffee or ASB were substituted for sugary drinks.”

Researchers found that there was approximately a 22% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes per extra serving per day habitually of each of soft drinks, sweetened milk beverages and ASB consumed. However, the consumption of fruit juice and sweetened tea or coffee was not related to diabetes.

After taking body mass index and waist girth as markers of obesity into consideration, there seemed to be a higher risk of diabetes associated with consumption of both soft drinks and sweetened milk drinks. However, the link with ASB consumption no longer remained, which points to the reasoning that there was greater consumption of ASB by those who were already overweight or obese.

Dr Forouhi said, “The good news is that our study provides evidence that replacing a daily serving of a sugary soft drink or sugary milk drink with water or unsweetened tea or coffee can help to cut the risk of diabetes, offering practical suggestions for healthy alternative drinks for the prevention of diabetes.”

The study was published in the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes called Diabetologia.

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