Today (November 14) is World Diabetes Day, a day that aims to increase awareness of the effects of diabetes and the complications caused by the disease.
With the help of dietitian Mbali Mapholi, we looked at healthy drinks people with diabetes should be consuming.
Mapholi said there are a couple of considerations relevant to diabetes that people with diabetes need to consider when choosing the drink of choice. She said the main consideration is the nutritional profile of the drink with a special focus on the amount of sugar in the drink and deciding on how much drink to have.
“People with diabetes need to monitor their blood sugar levels carefully to avoid any blood sugar spikes. Glucose also referred to comes from food and sugar-containing drinks. It is a simple sugar that serves as the main source of energy for the body,” she said.
Good old water will always take the number one spot as one of the healthiest drinks anyone can have, including people with diabetes. Water does not raise blood sugar levels. Moreover, high blood sugar levels can cause dehydration and water is particularly good for hydration, and drinking enough water can help the body eliminate excess glucose through urine.
You can enhance the flavour of water by mixing water with the juice from citrus fruits, such as lime and lemon, or a splash of 100 % cranberry juice. Infusing water with whole fruits like berries can add some healthful flavour as well. Store-bought flavoured sugar-free sparkling water is also a good option for people with diabetes.
Teas such as rooibos, black tea, green tea, and oolong tea contain polyphenols which researchers believe may increase insulin activity. Tea drinkers who have diabetes need to pay more attention to the sugar they add to their tea, unsweetened tea is most preferred for diabetics.
For a refreshing taste, make your own iced tea using a chilled delicious tea, such as rooibos, and add a few slices of lemon.
Cow’s milk can be a healthy drink, a glass of milk counts towards three servings of dairy a day. Milk contains important vitamins and minerals, but it does add carbohydrates to the diet. It is always best to choose unsweetened, low fat, or skim versions of your preferred milk.
Unsweetened dairy-free, low-sugar milk alternative options, such as fortified nuts, are also welcome.
Most unsweetened nut milk has little carbohydrates, but people with diabetes must be sure to check the nutrition panel of their milk of choice and be mindful of the number of carbohydrates in one serving. This information is essential to know when managing blood sugar.
Vegetable and fruit juice
Juiced non-starchy vegetables have a lower glycemic index and contain fewer carbohydrates than fruit juice. However, fruit juices (100% juice) contain vitamins and minerals and 150ml provides one portion of our five a day. Juices can harm teeth, so for children, dilute with water and drink at mealtimes.
It is important to note that eating whole fruit or vegetables would still be preferred to drinking vegetable juice. As with fruit, a proportion of the fibre from whole vegetables is likely to be lost during the juicing process.
Juiced vegetables and fruits can play a part in a healthy diet, particularly if juiced vegetables and fruits do not replace having whole vegetables and fruit options.
Sugar-free soft drinks
Most sugar-free soft drinks are 99% water and can be counted as part of your water intake for the day. There are many caffeine-free options, too. As with all aspects of living with diabetes, moderation is key.
These are low in calories and have added sweeteners which will not increase blood sugar levels, but new research indicates that gut bacteria could be affected negatively.