7 Diabetes-Friendly Drinks That Keep Blood Sugar Low
We’re usually all aware of how food impacts our body, but oftentimes we overlook the fact that the beverages we drink can do the same thing. Many drinks can be riddled with calories and added sugar which makes our blood glucose soar. Having high blood sugar (also called hyperglycemia) for a long period of time can lead to damaged blood vessels and increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and nerve problems.
Drinks to Lower Blood Sugar
If you're diabetic, prediabetic, or simply looking to keep blood sugar low for your health, sugary drinks sneak in added sugar that can spike your blood glucose. We talked to experts to identify drinks that are diabetes-friendly and will ensure that you're not consuming tons of unwanted added sugar.
Unless you’re mixing up an insulin-filled cocktail, there aren’t any specific drinks that can actually lower your blood sugar. Fortunately, these seven drinks are diabetic-friendly and can prevent blood sugar from spiking in the first place.
7 Drinks That Keep Blood Sugar Low
You can never go wrong with drinking water — it does make up about 60 percent of the human body. Every single cell, organ, and tissue needs it for bodily functions and to keep our body temperature normal.
Along with the fact that water keeps you hydrated, it can also assist the kidneys with removing any excess sugar hanging out in the bloodstream. A 2017 study published in Nutrition Research found that low daily water intake led to an increased risk of hyperglycemia. In the study, when type 2 diabetic patients were restricted from water, their blood glucose response was impaired likely due to hormone responses.
2. Unsweetened tea
Whether you go with a true tea (like green or black) or herbal tea, the key thing to remember is to drink it plain or grab bottled teas that don’t have added sugar. Research has found that choosing either true tea or herbal tea could be protective against hyperglycemia.
One 2017 study published in the Asia Pacific Clinical Nutrition Society found that the participants who drank black tea with a high sugar drink had lower post-meal blood sugar levels compared to those that received the placebo. If you enjoy herbal teas, a 2016 study published in Nutrition found that sipping on chamomile tea three times per day for eight weeks had a positive impact on glycemic control and antioxidant levels in participants.
Similar to tea, you want to take your coffee with no cream or sugar in order to prevent that sugar spike. A 2019 systematic review found that long-term studies (two to 16 weeks in length) on coffee and its impact on glucose response was favorable. It’s believed the antioxidant compounds of coffee over a long period of time can improve oxidative stress and inflammation which then improves glucose metabolism.
Do be aware of how much caffeine you are drinking, though. Research has shown too much caffeine may increase both glucose and insulin levels in the short term, especially for those that are caffeine sensitive. The FDA recommends sticking to around 400 milligrams of caffeine per day, which is around four or five cups of coffee.
4. Plant-based milk
Making the switch from animal milk to plant-based milk can not only prevent a blood sugar surge but could also be effective in preventing type 2 diabetes. A 2017 review published in the Journal of Geriatric Cardiology states that animal protein and fat have been linked with the worsening of insulin resistance which leads to hyperglycemia and a potential type 2 diabetes diagnosis.
When going plant-based with your milk, choose the unsweetened original versions instead of vanilla or other flavored milk. Almond, soy, and coconut milk are all great options that contain under one gram of sugar per 8-ounce serving. Rice milk (even the unsweetened version) should be avoided as it can contain upwards of 10 grams of sugar per serving.
5. Whole-fruit smoothies
This doesn’t account for all smoothies, some restaurants and companies add additional sugar or use juice as the liquid to get a smooth consistency which can create a quick rise in blood sugar. Instead, making one at home allows you to use water or plant-based milk and low glycemic fruits to ensure your blood sugar doesn’t increase rapidly. Berries are one great option, with a 2019 study showing that participants who ate 2 cups of raspberries with a high-carb meal had reduced insulin and blood sugar after finishing the meal.
When you concoct your smoothie, think beyond just the fruit. Adding other ingredients like seeds, avocado, nuts or nut butter can also be beneficial for glucose management. For example, one 2017 study found that participants who consumed 1 ounce of ground chia seeds along with 2 ounces of a sugar solution had a 39 percent drop in blood sugar levels.
6. Flavored carbonated water
If you want to drink water with flavor and bubbly action, go for the carbonated option. Many of the popular carbonated beverages such as La Croix and Bubly use natural flavors and don’t include any sweeteners.
Although more studies need to be conducted on human participants, one 2021 study on hyperglycemic mice showed that mice who received natural soda water had both improved insulin and blood glucose levels.
7. Any low-sugar beverages
This category can include beverages like “diet” juices or sodas. Although they aren’t the ideal pick of the litter, they are still beverages that can be enjoyed in moderation and won’t increase your blood sugar due to the use of artificial sweeteners.
Some research has linked artificial sweeteners with the potential to increase diabetes risk, but a 2020 long-term study found that drinking diet soda or non-caloric artificial sweeteners did not increase diabetes risk or affect insulin or glucose levels. This was even when almost half of the participants regularly consumed diet soda or used non-caloric artificial sweeteners to sweeten up their beverages over an eight-year period.
Bottom Line: Reach for these diabetes-friendly drinks to prevent blood sugar spikes.
Want more ways to keep blood sugar low and under control? Check out The Beet's article on foods that keep blood sugar low, and don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter for daily plant-based health tips.