Are My Hydration Choices Hurting Me and Can I Make Better Ones? What to Drink to Help Manage Your Diabetes


The things we put into our bodies can do one of two things – help us or harm us. That sounds pretty dramatic, but it is no secret that some foods and drinks are better for us than others. It might be better to eat an apple rather than a fast food burger, and to grab a glass of water in place of a soda, but sometimes that choice is difficult and not available to everyone. For those of us who have the ability, one easy decision we can make is adding avocado leaf tea into our daily routine. Avocado leaf tea tastes delicious and has various nutritional benefits. 

The sugar in soda or the artificial sweeteners in the “diet” versions may not harm us right away but they can have negative effects on our bodies over an extended period of time. These effects present themselves in the form of conditions such as Type 2 Diabetes, where your body doesn’t properly regulate glucose levels (we’ll talk more about that later). However if we focus more on what liquids we are putting into our bodies, we will see that some drinks, such as avocado leaf tea, actually have nutritional benefits that can help ease the symptoms of many diseases and manage chronic conditions including both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes (T1D and T2D). 



Diabetes basics

So, what is diabetes? And what do the different types mean? Well, for starters, both are very different diseases, and you can not go from having one to the other, although it is possible to have both at the same time. T1D and T2D are not caused by the same thing, do not have the same treatment, and do not have the same outlooks. 

T1D, once known as juvenile diabetes, due to its high rate of diagnosis in children, is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s immune system attacks cells in the pancreas that produce the hormone insulin. Insulin allows our bodies to convert glucose (sugar) into energy, Since the immune system attacks the pancreas cells in those with T1D, T1 diabetics are unable to produce insulin to regulate their blood glucose, and must therefore rely on external injections or an insulin pump to control blood glucose levels. Scientists are unsure of what causes T1D, and as of today, there is no cure. 

Of the over 30 million Americans who have diabetes, 95%  are T2 diabetics, and the number of T2D diagnoses are on the rise. T2D is caused by a person’s inability to effectively produce insulin, due to factors such as insulin resistance, metabolic issues, and a person’s diet and Body Mass Index. It is a long-term condition that may be managed with healthy eating and exercise, and in some cases, medication. Healthy eating, regular exercise, weight loss, and blood sugar monitoring are the most common and effective methods recommended for managing T2D. If these methods are followed, it is possible that a person’s blood glucose levels can return to non-diabetic range and a T2 diabetic may enter remission.

Who wants a drink? 

Healthy eating is a good thing to focus on for all us humans, and especially for  both types of diabetics, but healthy drinking is just as important! Staying hydrated is necessary to regulate body temperature, deliver nutrients to cells, and maintain good organ function. That is to say that staying hydrated with healthy beverages is good for your health, especially if you have T1 or T2D. When we are dehydrated, the concentration of glucose in our blood stream is greater since there is less fluid for the glucose to exist in. Staying regularly hydrated can lower blood glucose levels by pumping your blood volume and decreasing the concentration of glucose in your blood. 

Staying hydrated can seem like a daunting task that often leads to consuming liquids that are not good for us, and do not help our bodies. There are the obvious culprits that cause us to consume unhealthily, such as soda. There’s just something about a cold, bubble-filled beverage on a hot day that is irresistible. However, on average, one 16-ounce soda contains more than twice the recommended daily amount of sugar, or about 13 teaspoons. While it is delicious and may even be hydrating, the negative effects of soda on our bodies outnumber the good ones. 

Sneaky sugars

Sugary and processed drinks can often disguise themselves as being healthy, when in reality they are filled with dyes, chemicals, and large amounts of sugar. These are the lesser known culprits of unhealthy hydrating and can be especially dangerous for diabetics.  For example, pre-bottled fruit smoothies may seem like a healthy choice at first glance, but in reality, many of them are filled with sugars from fruit puree, contain no fiber or protein, which prevents the body from stabilizing blood sugar levels and maintaining a full sensation, and can still be labeled as “healthy” with no added sugars. 

We might think that reaching for that bottle of sweetened iced tea is a better option than the can of soda, but this is a trap many people fall into. The average can of peach iced tea contains almost 9 teaspoons of sugar. For a T1 diabetic who must give themselves insulin before eating, the unexpected amounts of sugar can cause their blood sugar to skyrocket. For a T2 diabetic, trying to maintain a healthy diet, the unexpected sugar could be just as detrimental to their attempts to lower their blood glucose. So what is the solution to this problem of beverages being labeled misleadingly?

Frequently, diabetics will switch from regular sweetened beverages to diet ones when trying to improve their health and maintain blood glucose control. While diet versions of sodas and teas may seem like a good alternative to their sugar-filled counterparts, those diet versions are hiding a dirty secret. Artificial sweeteners, while not made with real sugar, can be between 200 and 600 times sweeter than regular sugar. Consuming artificial sweeteners on a regular basis can actually alter your taste preferences and palate due to the fact that they hyperstimulate your taste buds. Over time this can increase your cravings for super sweet foods and decrease your satisfaction when eating natural sugars, such as the ones found in fresh fruit. This palette change can harm both T1 and T2 diabetics by making them want to consume more sugar, which causes blood glucose levels to spike. 

What can my drink do for me?

One solution to the sugar and artificial sweetener trap is to start asking ourselves what good can the beverages we are drinking do for us? If you are looking for ways to manage your Type 2 Diabetes, or just looking for drinks that won’t spike your blood sugar and contain no artificial sweeteners, look no further. Unsweetened teas contain no secret and sneaky sugar, and most teas have amazing health benefits, with one tea in particular standing out. Not only is avocado leaf tea a great alternative to pre-bottled drinks, but the natural nutrients found in the leaf span from decreasing inflammation to aiding digestion. Avocado leaf tea isn’t only a good beverage option for T2 diabetics looking to better control their blood glucose levels, but also for T1 diabetics. 

These days, avocados are held in high esteem. Like kale, quinoa, and blueberries, avocados are considered one of today’s superfoods. The demand for avocados worldwide has increased recently, and especially in the United States in recent decades. A study estimated that 40% of all U.S. households purchased avocados in a twelve-month period, but it is time to start introducing avocado leaves into the equation. 



Avocado leaf tea & diabetes

The last decade has seen an increase in research on avocados, and now avocado leaves and their health benefits. Introducing avocado leaves into your diet is a great way to organically aid your health and wellbeing, especially in regards to managing diabetes. Avocado leaf tea may help in lowering glucose levels. High and uncontrollable glucose levels is the most common problem those with diabetes face. Prolonged uncontrolled glucose levels can lead to complications with the eyes, kidneys, liver, and heart. Studies have shown that certain plant extracts, including those from the avocado leaf, can lower blood glucose levels.

Avocado leaves contain pharmacologically active compounds that promote anti-diabetic activity for T2 diabetics. These compounds include, saponins, tannins, phlobatannins, flavonoids, and glycosides. Studies show that these compounds lead to a decrease in fasting blood sugar when consumed on a regular basis. T2 diabetics could benefit from replacing other beverages in their diets with avocado leaf tea, as it might lower their blood glucose levels.

While there is no cure for T1D, avocado leaf tea is a great option for T1 diabetics to regulate their glucose levels through hydration and consuming low-carb and low-sugar beverages. The other benefits of avocado leaf tea such as decreased nervous activity, anti-inflammatory properties, and high levels of antioxidants that fight off free radicals can be helpful to T1 diabetics who are immunocompromised and at a higher risk for heart, eye, and kidney complications.

The CDC estimates that of the over 30 million diabetics currently in the United States, 21.4% have not received a diagnosis. The national number of diagnoses of both T1 and T2 diabetics are on the rise, and a Johns Hopkins study found that overall glycemic control has worsened over the past decade.  With the numbers on the rise, and concerning data about blood glucose control, the knowledge of healthy food and beverage options is more important than ever. Whether we are drinking water or avocado leaf tea, it is time to hold our food and beverages to a higher standard and ask ourselves “What can this do to aid my health?”

Diabetes Strong provides a complete guide to understanding Diabetes & the increase of diabetes in the US and provides a wealth of information regarding both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes.

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