Swapping a soda for a cup of coffee might actually help people with type 2 diabetes live longer, research suggests.
A new study from Harvard University published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found that high sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption increased the risk of premature death and cardiovascular disease among people with type 2 diabetes.
Meanwhile, beverages such as coffee, tea, low-fat milk and water have been found to have a lower risk of premature death.
Researchers at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health wanted to investigate how consumption of a variety of beverages affects patients with type 2 diabetes, since previous studies tend to look at the general population.
Type 2 diabetes occurs because of a problem with the way the body uses and regulates sugar for fuel, according to the Mayo Clinic. The two main problems with type 2 diabetes are that the pancreas does not produce enough insulin and that the cells respond poorly to insulin and consume less sugar.
They analyzed health data from 9,252 women who participated in the Nurses’ Health Study and 3,519 men who participated in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study for an average of 18.5 years. All participants had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at the start of or during the study.
Participants reported every two to four years how often they consumed SSBs, artificially sweetened beverages (ASBs), fruit juice, coffee, tea, low-fat cow’s milk, whole cow’s milk, and plain water.
The results showed that those who regularly consumed sugary drinks, such as soft drinks, fruit punch, and lemonade, had a higher chance of all-cause mortality, as well as a higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
Each additional daily serving of SSB was linked to an 8% increased risk of death. However, the risk of all-cause mortality and the risk of death from cardiovascular disease decreased for those who regularly drank beverages such as coffee, tea, low-fat cat milk, and/or water.
“Beverages are an important component of our diet, and the quality can vary greatly,” said lead author Qi Sun, an associate professor in the Departments of Nutrition and Epidemiology.
“People living with diabetes may especially benefit from drinking healthy beverages, but data has been sparse. These findings help fill that knowledge gap and can inform patients and their caregivers about diet and diabetes management.”
But swapping one serving per day of SSB with one serving of coffee lowered the risk of death from all causes by 18% and lowered the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 20%.
Switching an SSB to tea reduced the risk of all-cause mortality and CVD mortality by 16% and 24%, respectively, switching to water alone reduced the risk by 16% and 20%, and milk from low-fat cow reduced the risk by 1% and 19%.
ASBs also had healthier results compared to SSBs, but not as much as other options.
Swapping a daily serving of SSB with ASB had only an 8% lower risk of all-cause mortality and a 15% lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality.
“People living with diabetes have to be picky about how they stay hydrated,” Sun said. “Switching from sugary drinks to healthier drinks will bring health benefits.”