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Diabetic diet - drinks

We often talk about the effect of different foods on blood glucose and cholesterol. But we tend to forget what we drink.

The best and most natural drink is, of course, water. But many people don't drink water on its own, they put something else in it such as tea or coffee or sugar or a fruit juice. These additions can have a significant effect on the body.

When you are thirsty, your body is telling you that it wants water, not food. It is very easy to increase your blood glucose levels or body fat without apparently 'eating' anything, if you drink a drink that contains carbs.

Obvious examples are sodas or fruit juices.

Alcohol is also something to beware of. Alcohol contains 7 kcals per gram. This is a significant amount of energy. Alcohol is not a carbohydrate and won't increase either blood glucose levels or body fat itself. However, it does provide calories and is used preferentially by the body. This means that if there are sufficient calories from the alcohol, glucose from carbs in the blood is more likely to raise insulin levels and to be stored as body fat.

The safest drink is water. However, if you are out at a party, stick to dry wines and spirits as these don't contain carbs. And don't drink too many.

At home, if you like fruit juice, water it down. An 8 oz glass of orange juice probably contains the equivalent of 6 or 7 oranges. This is far too much for your health. It's much safer to quarter fill the glass with orange juice and make the other three-quarters water.

Hot drinks such as tea, coffee, cocoa are fine, but beware of milk because it contains lactose, a sugar which puts glucose into the bloodstream just as table sugar (sucrose) does. Rather than put in milk, it is better to use cream. You don't need much, but cream does have the advantage that it helps to raise your fat intake.

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Last updated 18 December 2009

Disclaimer: The Diabetes Diet website should be used to support rather than replace medical advice advocated by physicians.

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