Type 2 diabetes is a serious disease and is considered a major public health concern worldwide.
Studies have found that at least 462 million people currently live with diabetes, which accounts for about 6.28% of the global population (1).
In the past three decades, we have also seen a significant rise in the prevalence of the condition, and many cases of type 2 diabetes remain undiagnosed.
Numerous factors increase a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes at some point in their lives.
Managing these risks can considerably impact the individual’s chances of developing the condition.
In recent studies, it is now also suggested that drinking certain teas may further contribute to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
We will explore the findings of these studies in this article and consider the specific types of tea that may help individuals fight against the development of type 2 diabetes.
Findings of tea and type 2 diabetes risk
While not yet officially published in a journal, CNN Health reports (2) that research surrounding tea as a preventative strategy for type 2 diabetes will be presented at an annual meeting in Stockholm.
The researchers behind these findings investigated the results that several previous studies were able to accumulate. The main focus was to determine whether tea could impact a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes in particular.
According to the researchers, previous studies published on the topic did not have consistent data. This, therefore, made the process of coming to a conclusion much harder.
In the newer study that these researchers conducted, there was a 17% reduced risk of type 2 diabetes among individuals who consumed around four cups of certain tea every day.
The study considered the effects of the tea over a lengthy one-decade period. The research also suggests that the rate at which tea lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes largely depends on the amount you consume each day.
Current evidence does not guarantee that consuming these teas will prevent type 2 diabetes in every individual. Instead, researchers explain that it rather confirms that certain teas may contribute to a lower risk of diabetes over a long period.
Researchers utilized data that was presented by the China Health and Nutrition Survey at first. This included data from over 5,000 individuals who did not have type 2 diabetes at the start of the study. Researchers also considered data between the period of 1997 to 2009. An additional 19 cohort studies also formed part of the study.
The conclusion was that oolong tea, green tea, and black tea are great for those who want drinks to lower A1C and other metrics related to the risk of type 2 diabetes.
These are also natural teas for diabetes, which means it does not expose the individual to additional chemicals or medications to assist with their diabetes management.
How does tea affect diabetes control?
When using tea for diabetics, it is important to understand how these beverages may help. There are several pathways by which researchers currently consider tea to be helpful in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. Additionally, the best tea for diabetes might also provide a useful strategy to those individuals who already have the illness.
Polyphenols are some of the most important natural chemicals that researchers are looking at. Certain teas are known to be high in these polyphenols, which are considered natural antioxidants.
The antioxidant properties that polyphenols offer may help to prevent damage caused to cells throughout the body. In some cases, it may rather delay the damaging process to body cells.
These are both two important mechanisms by which tea and, in particular, the polyphenol content may help those who are at risk of type 2 diabetes.
Polyphenols and diabetes control
Several studies have looked at the role of polyphenols in the management of glucose control.
In one particular study (3), researchers found that there are several ways in which polyphenols may provide useful mechanisms, such as:
- The inhibition of two natural chemicals in the body, known as 1-glucosidase and a-amylase.
- Polyphenols may reduce the absorption of glucose in the person’s intestines. This is due to the inhibition of the sodium-dependent glucose transporter 1, or the SGLT1.
- There may be a reduction in the glucose output from the hepatic system in the body.
- Polyphenols may also help to stimulate the release of insulin by the pancreas.
There is also a study that shows the effects that polyphenols may have on insulin resistance. This is often a condition that develops prior to type 2 diabetes (4).
An individual with insulin resistance has a much greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Early intervention with insulin resistance may help to prevent the onset of diabetes.
The study suggests that polyphenols can help to modulate the transportation of glucose throughout the body, as well as seem to have a positive effect on the insulin signaling pathways.
Additionally, the research also shows that the polyphenols, which are found in several herbal teas for diabetes options, can also protect B-cells from the pancreas against damage.
When damage occurs to these cells, then the pancreas may produce an insufficient amount of insulin to assist with the transportation of glucose.
What are the best teas for diabetes?
While there are several variations of teas on the market, especially when looking at anti-diabetes tea, recent studies focused on very specific options.
According to these studies, the best natural teas for diabetes include:
- Green tea
- Oolong tea
- Black tea
Whether the individual looks at black tea and diabetes or another one of these, the benefits among them remain similar. This is due to the high polyphenol content that one can find in these teas.
Health benefits of drinking herbal tea
There are numerous benefits that people can obtain when they decide to add more herbal tea into their daily diet, from fighting against oxidative stress to finding a weight loss tea that helps with reducing body mass.
Below, we consider a few additional benefits that the polyphenols and other compounds found in these tea variants may offer:
- Some studies suggest that these teas may help to improve brain function. They suggest that this particular benefit is due to the caffeine content that is in several types of tea. Caffeine can help with alertness and is a natural type of stimulant (5).
- Herbal teas may also be good for weight loss. One study found that regular consumption of green tea may help to provide a boost in the metabolic rate. This allows the individual to burn fat faster (6).
- The antioxidants found in certain teas may also provide a reduced risk of developing certain cancers. One study found that green tea may provide a reduction of up to 30% in the risk of breast cancer. (7) Another study reviewed the effects of green tea on the risk of prostate cancer. Men who consumed green tea on a regular basis had the lowest incidence of prostate cancer among those analyzed during the study period (8). Similar findings have been reported in studies that looked at the relation between tea consumption and the risk of developing colorectal cancer (9).
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Are there any side effects of drinking herbal tea for diabetes?
The tea itself is unlikely to cause any serious side effects. This accounts for cases where a person wants to improve insulin sensitivity or reduce glucose intolerance to help them reduce the risk of diabetes. The side effects rather lie in how the person decides to prepare their anti-diabetes tea.
Sugar is a common addition to tea that many people do have a preference for. When looking at blood glucose control, however, sugar is generally something that a person should avoid.
Adding too much sugar to tea can cause a rise in blood glucose levels. This may rather have the opposite effect as to what the individual expects from the herbal tea.
It is also important to consider the caffeine content of certain teas. When a person experiences adverse effects, such as jitters, with caffeine intake, then they should avoid tea variations that naturally contain this ingredient.
Emerging research now suggests that about four cups of certain teas may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by around 17%. There is no need to opt for specific diabetes tea bags, however.
When looking at the best teas for diabetics, studies suggest that standard options like green tea, oolong tea, or black tea are good options.
Apart from providing benefits against diabetes, these teas may also provide additional health benefits for the individual’s body. This includes reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, and they may even help to address sleep quality problems.
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