Coffee’s flavor is naturally unique, and the taste, when sweetened, is heavenly: these are not the reasons almost everyone in the world loves it, but they are integral in what attracts them. No one would have a coffee beside you without the coffee’s flavor flirting with you. We all love it because of the benefits, like how it keeps you awake, focused, and alert to do your day’s work. And some love the taste and flavor alone, then justify it with the benefits they have heard several times. Because coffee is a trendy drink, its strip search and scrutiny continue. Food nutritionist wants to know what else it has, it benefits, downsides, and fascinating facts to blow us away once in a while.
A recently brewed coffee is always beautiful, but have you noticed an increase in your blood sugar after taking a cup of coffee? You might have needed a bit more insulin after having a meal with coffee: This has raised a few questions from many people if it is healthy for individuals with diabetes. Should people with diabetes drink coffee? Can they have coffee?
You don’t want to miss an opportunity to miss this opportunity to learn, don’t you?
Let’s ride on, and you would learn everything about coffee and its effect on diabetic people.
The main constituent in coffee is caffeine, which is responsible for a more significant part of the benefits that coffee offers.
What Does Caffeine do, and how does it do it?
As I mentioned above, caffeine is the main constituent of coffee. Amazingly, coffee has an enormous amount of naturally occurring caffeine, unlike the caffeine we have in sodas like Coke, Pepsi, and energy drinks like Monster and Red Bull. These drinks, like coffee, contain caffeine in them, but what separates them is that the caffeine in coffee is naturally occurring while sodas and energy drinks are chemically synthesized.
What does it do?
Caffeine is a brain stimulant. This means it can act on the activities of the brain and alter its decisions. When caffeine finds its way to your brain, the most apparent effect is that it makes you alert, even if you’ve been exhausted before. You would suddenly find a strange boost of energy and focused mind, except it is not weird; it’s caffeine time, and it’s giving a speech. Pharmacists also provide caffeine room to talk in some drugs to treat headaches and drowsiness by being an ingredient in its makeup.
How does it Work?
Caffeine, when taken in any substance – coffee, energy drinks, or in medications – acts directly on your nervous system and stimulates some activities. Some of these things include:
- It Blocks the Adenosine Receptors: adenosine receptors, commonly called AR, works to slow some things down in your body. Elaborately, what adenosine receptors do is bind themselves with the body’s cells. When this happens, it gradually slows down their activities, allowing you to fall asleep at night. Something like your fan’s control, except that it doesn’t increase the speed, slows it down gradually to let you rest and recover for the next day’s activity and adventure. When you have caffeine in your system, it stops the adenosine receptors from slowing things down, which means you continue working at the same speed. When the adenosine receptors can’t bind to your cells, their work continues, and sleep is sent to a distant land without a means of coming back until the effect of coffee wears off.
- It Increases Chemicals That Produce Energy: because the adenosine receptors that should bind with cells can’t seem to do this, the brain is tricked into releasing hormones like dopamine, acetylcholine, and serotonin. These hormones – chemical substances secreted in the body to regulate cells and organs in a person’s body – are called neuromodulators because they help regulate our physiological response to different activities. Serotonin and dopamine have a very positive effect on the body, and some ways of getting these two are inexperienced, like receiving a costly gift and getting the first kiss. The production of dopamine and serotonin increases when these two experiences happen, making you feel delighted. This is the same effect it has on your brain, considering it is what controls your response. Now, imagine your first kiss. How did you feel? Yes! That’s the same effect that coffee has on your brain when it increases the production of serotonin and dopamine – the feel-good hormones. Acetylcholine, however, has its impact on things that are unrelated to mood, like the functions of your muscles. It does this by influencing how you would feel excited about something and not by making you feel excited.
- It Increases the Production of Catecholamine: a catecholamine is a group of hormones produced by the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands naturally produce these hormones you’re your bloodstream when you are stressed –physically and emotionally – to assist you in enduring the stress you might be feeling until you can rest and recover. Caffeine, however, triggers this release whenever you take coffee or any other substance that has caffeine. One of the catecholamine hormones that is produced in the body when you have taken caffeine is adrenaline. The production of adrenaline is what is spikes your blood sugar, and we would be analyzing how it does this. Let’s see!
What’s the Amount of Caffeine in Coffee, Tea, and Energy Drinks?
You can’t get the correct answer to this question. Every answer you get would be accurate according to different reasons and wouldn’t be the right one due to some other reasons.
For example, coffee can be brewed differently – strong or weak – and what this means is that it would contain different amounts of caffeine because their concentration is different. Now, if you take your coffee to other places, you would be able to tell the difference, and if you can tell the difference in the flavor and the taste, then there’s as much difference in the amount of caffeine it contains. Same with tea and energy drinks. Energy drinks come in different cans and from other brands, and what this translates is different ingredients and mixing. There have been many arguments over coffee vs. energy drinks, and they are different.
Coffee and Your Blood Sugar: How does it affect it?
We are here! The catecholamine that helps you endure emotional and physical stress does this by producing adrenaline, also known as epinephrine.
Have you ever heard of “flight or fight” before? It is another name given to adrenaline because it helps you to fight any kind of stress – good or bad. It goes into action like being a car race with two options – win or have an accident.
There are times when you’ve experienced an adrenaline rush that you don’t know. Remember what you felt when you were electrocuted – if you’ve been electrocuted before. Remember that sudden burst of energy to remove your hands from a fire and the way your heart starts beating faster? That’s an adrenaline rush, and electrocution and fire are examples of stress.
Adrenaline does this by telling your liver (more like asking nicely) to release the stored energy.
Every food you eat is broken down, and the excess is stored as glucose in your liver as glycogen. The liver controls the release of glycogen, and it does this a few times during the day. When the glycogen is released, it is converted back to glucose, and it serves as fuel for your body and the activities you might need to do.
The liver would release the glycogen bits by bits every day, most especially when you’re not eating. It does this to give your brain the tiny amount of glucose to function correctly.
When you are in stressful situations – like in the gym, when you are working out, in a car accident, or when you have taken coffee – the liver would release a higher dose of glycogen, giving you more glucose fuel.
When all this happens, the level of sugar in your body is spiked.
Does Coffee Cause Insulin Resistance?
The American diabetes association conducted a study of people with type 2 diabetes. Ten people were regular coffee drinkers who took an average of 4 cups of coffee per day, but they stopped taking coffee during the research. These people were divided into two groups; the first group was given 250 mg of caffeine tablets. At the same time, the other group was placebo pills without caffeine. According to the study, “on the days when the patients took coffee the caffeine pills, there was a noticeable spike in their blood sugar up to 8%.”
This doesn’t mean people with diabetes shouldn’t take coffee. It’s just like everything we take; we need to be conscious and manage what we take and how we take them. Excess of anything is always bringing a downside. We can all enjoy coffee and its benefit, but you need to have this kind of information to know how to manage your health and coffee taking.
How to Manage Your Coffee and Caffeine Intake
There are various food substances that you would eat or drink that contains caffeine. Coffee is not the only food material that contains coffee; you can find it in tea and energy drinks.
Before you can see the effect of blood sugar on your body, you must have consumed about 200 mg of caffeine: this is around 3 cups of black tea and 2 cups of coffee. We are all different, so some people would see the effect after one cup while others would for a much higher amount.
The following are ways of managing your coffee and caffeine intake:
- Consuming coffee at different times of the day: while you need to watch what you take, you can try taking coffee at other times to see how it affects your sugar levels.
- Watch what you add to your coffee: so many additives of coffee have sugar in them, from the milk you use to adding sugar or sweeteners to taste. Some creams you add to your coffee are also very high in sugar. What would help you as a person with diabetes is to gradually teach yourself to love and learn how to take black coffee because that is the only way you can stay on the safe sides without consuming more sugar than you need
- Use coffee spikes to manage your lows: lows here talk about when the amount of sugar in your body is low, and most times, this happens after you’ve engaged in some physical activity like exercising and working out at the gym. A drink of coffee can bring you back to the normal state of balanced sugar when you take it during times when your body is low in sugar. Another way is taking the coffee before the intense workout you have planned for yourself, and what to note here is “intense workout” because not all cardio or exercise depletes the sugar in your body. So, it depends on you to find out what your body reacts to and what works for it.
Do You Need to take Insulin after Coffee?
Yes, you have diabetes, and you love coffee, but you also want to know if you need to take insulin after enjoying a cup of coffee. The answer is in your body. Try new things out, maybe an experiment. When you wake up in the morning, check your sugar level, and if it is in the range of the average level for you, you proceed with the experiment.
The experiment is taking a cup of coffee after confirming your blood sugar level is balanced. Wait for about an hour or two; recheck your levels to see where you are. Is there a spike, or is it the same?
Most people have found out that they would need up to a unit of insulin that would act fast to control the spike that the coffee has given them.
An alternate way of finding out how your body responds to coffee is removing coffee from your daily morning routine. Try it for a few days and record what you discover. Did this reduce your insulin intake? How easy was it for you to manage your blood sugar levels?
If removing coffee from your routine reduced your insulin intake, it means whenever you drink coffee, you would need to take insulin to counteract the effects on your body. Now, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take coffee anymore, and you need to learn how to manage and limit the rate at which you drink coffee.
There’s Also Decaf Coffee
Caffeine is an addictive substance, but don’t get it all mixed up. It is not like narcotics or drugs. The effect has on the brain makes the brain crave it. So, suppose you decide to stop taking coffee because of your diabetic condition. In that case, you are going into the withdrawal stage where you might experience headaches for a few weeks before adjusting to the new normal of ‘No Coffee!’
But if you decide to go through with it and stop taking coffee, then hey! There’s decaf coffee. Decaf coffee is a coffee with just a tiny amount of coffee to give you all the other benefits but so tiny that it doesn’t affect your blood sugar levels. That way, it’s a win-win for everyone. You get the benefits, and your blood sugar is not affected.
I’ve been here talking about the benefits of taking coffee, so here are some of the
Amazing Health Benefits You Get From Drinking Coffee
One of the reasons coffee is famous is the amount of research that has gone into understanding what things coffee could offer us as human beings, and some of the things they’ve found out are how it can reduce the risk of getting some health conditions.
Some of the benefits that have been revealed are
- Reduce the risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease.
- Reduce the risk of getting Parkinson’s disease: some research has established that drinking coffee would reduce the risk of getting this disease. And not just coffee; caffeine is what is involved in making this happen.
- It helps to protect and safeguard your liver.
- A Harvard research about women who had up to 4 cups of coffee in a day revealed that it reduced the rate of getting depression.
Downsides of Drinking Coffee
Every good thing in life has its downsides the same way as humans, and we have our strengths and weaknesses. Coffee has a lot of benefits, but it also has some side effects, and these are some of its side effects:
- Anxiety: this occurs as an effect of caffeine when it has increased the adrenaline in your body. You feel a rush, and when it is not channeled right, it could lead to jitters and anxiety.
- Sleeping issues: coffee disrupts sleeping patterns, no matter what time you take it. What it does is keep you awake and focused even when your body is telling you to feel tired and rest. When you take it, it blocks the part of the brain that helps you unwind and get tired, and sometimes this can go on for a while and then lead to losing sleep, leading to headaches.
- Headache: when you don’t sleep and rest for a prolonged period, you start getting headaches because your brain is overworked and underpaid (payment is rest and good food). Headaches are a way your brain forces you to take a rest, nap, or sleep. Coffee helps your body stay awake to do more, and when you have taken a lot of coffee, and the effect finally wears off, the next thing is headaches away; your brain tells you to rest.
What Other Things Should You Know About Coffee?
What is the ideal cup of coffee you should take per day?
There’s no limitation on the amount of coffee you should use. But the standard is that you should not take more than 400 mg of caffeine which is the main constituent in coffee. 400 mg of caffeine is about four cups of coffee, so do not exceed this amount of caffeine; it is better to stay on just 4 cups of coffee depending on the size of the coffee cup that you use and the brew.
James D. Lane, Christina E. Barkauskas, Richard S. Surwit, Mark N. Feinglos Caffeine Impairs Glucose Metabolism in Type 2 Diabetes Diabetes Care Aug 2004, 27 (8) 2047-2048; DOI: 10.2337/diacare.27.8.2047