If you have diabetes, you will be used to constantly monitoring your diet to stay on top of your symptoms. While dietary adjustments may be hard to navigate at first, they are essential to maintaining a good quality of life. By adding certain teas to your diet, you can further support your diabetes management regime.
Tea can promote several health-related benefits, including weight management, improved heart health, and better cognitive function. The right choice of tea combined with the proper dosage may help if you are a diabetic or are at risk of developing diabetes.
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Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects your body's insulin production or activity. Insulin is a hormone that is produced by your pancreas. When you consume carbohydrates, insulin allows the glucose from the food you have consumed to enter your cells and be converted into energy.
Essentially, insulin is an agent that helps turn food into energy.
When you have diabetes, you face one of these problems:
Your pancreas doesn't produce any insulin.
Your pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin.
Your pancreas produces insulin, but your cells don't use it properly.
Common symptoms of diabetes include:
Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
Slow healing of sores and cuts
Unexplained weight loss and frequent infections
Diabetes can also result in sexual health issues. Men can experience decreased sex drive and erectile dysfunction, while women may suffer from yeast and urinary tract infections.
While there are different types of diabetes, the most common is type 2 diabetes. Over 422 million people globally¹ and 37 million in the US² have type 2 diabetes, which occurs when the body doesn't use insulin properly.
Multiple studies have shown that tea can be beneficial if you have type 2 diabetes or are at risk of developing this condition.
A recent study³ found that patients who consume four or more cups of tea a day have a better chance of preventing type 2 diabetes. Another study⁴ showed that drinking more than four cups of green tea per day was associated with better longevity in patients with type 2 diabetes.
If you are interested in adding tea to your diet to help you manage diabetes, consider choosing one of the following options. These have been identified as the best types of tea to support this condition.
A Japanese study⁵ showed that high green tea consumption (over six cups per day) reduced the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 33%. According to this study, this benefit comes from the high caffeine content of green tea.
A meta-analysis that reviewed 17 randomized controlled trials showed that green tea consumption reduced fasting glucose and hemoglobin A1c concentrations, resulting in lower blood sugar levels.
Green tea also contains a high concentration of antioxidants which can help reduce or prevent inflammation associated with diabetes.
A study⁶ has shown that consuming black tea after a meal reduced blood sugar levels in patients with pre-diabetes.
Black tea contains beneficial plant compounds called polyphenols⁷. Studies have found that polyphenols can improve blood sugar control and prevent diabetes complications.
As with green tea, black tea contains antioxidants that can help to reduce and prevent inflammation if you have diabetes.
Oolong tea can lower blood sugar levels if you are experiencing type 2 diabetes. While more research is needed to verify its beneficial effects, a small study⁸ conducted by Taiwanese researchers confirmed oolong tea's antihyperglycemic (anti-high blood sugar) effect.
This type of tea also contains polyphenols and antioxidants that can help reduce blood sugar levels and fight inflammation.
While true teas (green, black, and oolong) are brewed from plant (Camellia sinensis) leaves, herbal teas are made from dried fruits, flowers, herbs, and spices. Some herbal teas can reduce symptoms of diabetes and improve your quality of life.
According to one study⁹, chamomile tea improves blood sugar regulation and enhances antioxidant levels. Another study¹⁰ has shown that lemon balm (Melissa) tea produces a similar effect.
Meanwhile, some herbal teas have also been found to have calming effects, help with insomnia, and battle dehydration which spikes blood sugar levels.
While these studies are promising, more research is needed to confirm the benefits of herbal teas in patients with diabetes.
Studies generally indicate that consuming three to four cups of tea daily is optimal for diabetes management. However, you need to ensure that the tea you drink does not have any negative side effects, such as allergic reactions, heartburn, and nausea. Some herbal teas may also have a toxic effect.
If you experience adverse reactions when drinking tea, consider switching to another type and consult your doctor.
Besides helping with diabetes, tea can have several other health benefits, including:
Reducing the risk of stroke and neurological disorders (for example, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases)
Improving cholesterol levels
Assisting with weight loss
Helping to fight skin, prostate, lung, and breast cancer
Improving cardiovascular health
Enhancing metabolic health
Increasing mineral bone density
It is advisable to drink the highest-quality tea you can find, as low-quality tea may not offer the same health benefits. High-quality tea can be identified in the following ways:
Unbroken loose leaves (as opposed to crumbly pieces with debris)
Texture (it shouldn't crumble easily)
Tea, both true and herbal varieties, can be highly beneficial for your health and promote well-being if you have or are at risk of developing diabetes.
Regular tea consumption can lower blood sugar levels, produce a calming effect, reduce inflammation, and combat dehydration. Tea also offers many other health benefits, such as improving metabolic and cardiovascular health, lowering bad cholesterol levels, and helping with weight loss.
For better results, make sure to drink high-quality tea and consult your doctor about any possible side effects. Moreover, keep in mind that tea isn't a standalone treatment for diabetes, but it is a complementary tool that can improve your quality of life.
Diabetes | World Health Organization
The facts, stats, and impacts of diabetes | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Antidiabetic effects of lemon balm melissa officinalis essential oil on glucose and lipid | Cambridge University Press
The health benefits of 3 herbal teas | Harvard Health Publishing