Type 2 diabetes: Nation’s favourite drink can help control blood sugar

Type 2 diabetes is a common condition that causes the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood to become too high. The aim of diabetes treatments is stop blood sugar from rising above normal levels. Sustained high blood sugar levels can cause life-threatening complications for people with type 2 diabetes, such as irreversible damage to parts of the body including the eyes, nerves, kidneys and blood vessels. There is one simple remedy that can help mitigate the risks, however.

Researchers believe black tea, green tea and oolong tea contain polyphenols which may increase insulin activity

Tea is an essential component of most people’s days. The hot drink brings a wealth of health benefits for people living with type 2 diabetes and in terms of prevention too.

According to Diabetes.co.uk, these include:

  • Improving insulin sensitivity
  • Maintaining healthy blood pressure
  • Preventing blood clots
  • Reducing risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Reducing risks of developing type 2 diabetes
  • Reducing risks of developing cancer

However, for best results, one tweak should be made to the British classic. Research suggests that the health properties are best experienced in tea without milk.

Researchers believe black tea, green tea and oolong tea contain polyphenols which may increase insulin activity.

An American study of 2002 found, however, that addition of milk in tea decreased the insulin-sensitising effects of tea.

Tea also packs prevention properties. Polyphenols are known to have anti-oxidative properties which can help protect against inflammation and carcinogens – key triggers in both type 2 diabetes and cancer, the charity explained.

Significantly, a Dutch study from 2009 indicates that drinking three cups of tea (or coffee) could slash the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by forty percent.

According to the NHS, other ways to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and control blood sugar levels include:

  • Eat a wide range of foods – including fruit, vegetables and some starchy foods like pasta
  • Keep sugar, fat and salt to a minimum
  • Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner every day – don’t skip meals
  • Staying active is another vital component. A physical lifestyle will help to keep weight down and reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol.

The NHS recommends aim for 2.5 hours of activity a week. This could be:

  • Fast walking
  • Climbing stairs
  • Doing more strenuous housework or gardening

Other ways to stop weight creeping up is monitor portion sizes and try to stick to a meal plan.

For people living with diabetes who are underweight, Diabetes UK recommends the following dietary tips:

  • Eat smaller meals, more often. It is easier than eating three large meals and it will also help increase appetite.
  • Use full-fat dairy products like milk, cream, cheese and yogurt.
  • Add unsaturated fats to your food where you can in foods such as avocados, nuts and seeds, and spreads and oils, including olive, rapeseed, sunflower and peanut. Unsaturated fats are still high in calories, but better for your heart than saturated fats.
  • Serve vegetables with melted butter, spread or grated cheese.
  • Add cream or full-fat milk to foods like mashed potato or soups.
  • Have nourishing drinks like smoothies and milky drinks.
  • Add powdered milk to cereals.
  • Nutritional supplements, in the form of food or drink, can be useful for some people who are finding it hard to gain weight or who have a poor appetite. They are available on prescription.

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