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Replacing Sugary Drinks with Unsweetened Beverages Can Reduce Diabetes Risk

Jul 3, 2015

The amount of sugary drinks consumed can have an impact on type 2 diabetes risk…

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Sugary drinks are everywhere, whether it is soda, fruit juice, tea, lemonade, or chocolate milk. But there are alternatives. Water is always an option. There is also unsweetened tea and coffee, and even artificially sweetened drinks of all types to drink. So, how do we choose what and how much of something to drink? Past research, including The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)- InterAct Study, has shown that there is a relationship between the amounts of sugary drinks that you consume and your risk for type 2 diabetes. In general, the results of previous research suggest a decrease in sugary drink consumption, but do not suggest adequate replacement beverages due to inconsistent outcomes.

Researchers asked study participants to document their food and beverage intake for seven days. The food journals allowed researchers to analyze the link between type of drinks consumed (sugary, artificially sweetened, or fruit juices), the percentage of total daily calories that came from sugary drinks, and how the replacement of the sugary drinks with an alternative drink impacts an individual’s risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

This study suggests that individuals who consume soda and/or sweet sweetened milk beverages are at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Individuals who get less than 2 percent of their daily caloric intake from sugary drinks, reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 15 percent. Also, if sugary drink consumers replace just one beverage per day with water or unsweetened tea or coffee, their chances of developing type 2 diabetes is reduced by 14 – 25 percent.

The more sugar you drink, the more likely you are to develop type 2 diabetes. The best option to reduce your risk for this disease is to replace sugary drinks with water and unsweetened beverages.

Practice Pearls:

  • Individuals should attempt to decrease their sugary drink intake and increase their water intake so that they are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes
  • Individuals may opt to choose drinks that are unsweetened, with the option of adding sugar or an artificial sweetener; this is a great way for individuals to gain control over how much sugar is added to their beverages
  • Limit your sugary drink consumption to one drink per day

Connor LO, Imamura F, et al. "Prospective associations and population impact of sweet average intake and type 2 diabetes, and effects of substitutions with alternative beverages." Diabetologia 58 (2015): n. pag. Web. 16 Jun 2015.