Reduce type 2 diabetes risk by drinking one less sweetened beverage a day.

The results of a study published this week in the journal Diabetologia showed a 25% reduction in the  risk of type 2 diabetes associated with swapping one regular sweetened  beverage (soda, sweetened milk beverages and sweetened coffee and tea) a day with an unsweetened beverage.

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A 12 ounce can of regular soda contains about 8 teaspoons of sugar; 8 ounces of chocolate milk has three teaspoons of sugar. When we drink sweetened beverages like these, it causes a rapid rise in both our blood sugar and insulin levels. Over time, these spikes can lead to insulin resistance. Insulin is like a key that opens a door on the cell surface for glucose to enter. In insulin resistance, the key is there, but it doesn’t open the door.  When this happens, glucose can’t get into the cell, it builds up in the blood, and we can end up with type 2 diabetes.

Although there continues to be controversy over the relationship between sugary beverages and type 2 diabetes, this study does provide evidence of an association between the two, and supports the World Health Organization recommendation that all people reduce their intake of sugars. At the very least, cutting back one sugary drink a day reduces the number of empty calories we consume which also helps in weight control.

Unsweetened regular or herbal teas, water with lemon, lime, orange or cucumber slices added, or flavored seltzers are all good alternatives to sugary drinks.

For more information on the World Health Organization recommendations:

For more information on type 2 diabetes: