Monday, November 2, 2015

Orange Juice, Vitamin C, and Diabetes


Is it safe for diabetics to drink orange juice for breakfast? Could drinking orange juice actually lower blood sugar levels?

Like many other foods, orange juice can be extremely beneficial when taken in moderation. Drinking too much juice can cause diabetic complications.

Here's the bottom line from research about coffee and orange juice for breakfast for diabetics:


Cream in coffee increases blood vessel inflammation in type 2 diabetics.

Coffee itself helps with blood sugar control (by "training" the liver not to release as much glucose during stress), but only if it's caffeinated.

Regular orange juice doesn't have any particular effect on blood vessel inflammation. As long as the orange juice is fresh-squeezed, drinking up to 160 ml (a small glass, about 2/3 of a cup) doesn't put any particular stress on the pancreas to release insulin and doesn't, over the long term, increase insulin resistance.

Red orange juice reduces arterial inflammation, which in turn lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of cardiovascular accidents. But don't drink more than 2/3 of a cup (160 ml) with any meal, or more than 500 ml (2 cups) in a single day.

The bottom line from research for diabetics is to skip the coffee with cream and sugar and spend your carbohydrate allowance on OJ. Just remember you also need to pass the doughnuts, hashed browns, and French toast to keep blood sugar levels in control.

What about just taking vitamin C and skipping the juice?

There have been some studies that suggest that diabetics who take up to 500 mg of vitamin C supplements per day (more than 500 mg can interfere with blood sugar measurements) can lower blood sugar levels slightly, up to about 15 mg/dl (a little more than 1 mMol) on average. Vitamin C doesn't cure diabetes, but it may be about as helpful for diabetes control as many diabetes medications.

Photo credit: Rick Audet of San Francisco, California (via Wikimedia Commons).

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