Simply put: caffeine does not turn into sugar.
It can, however, raise the blood sugar levels inside your body. This is not because it contains sugar, but because of how it affects substances inside your body, primarily insulin. Insulin causes metabolism of food into blood sugar, which fuels your cells. Insulin is also associated with depositing excess energy as fat.
Caffeine is a chemical compound found in foods, as is sugar. Blood sugar, however, is found in your bloodstream. Blood sugar rises or lowers as a result of many things, including the amount of sugar you've eaten, but also the amount of insulin your body has released, which affects blood glucose levels.
Caffeine can affect insulin action and, therefore, blood sugar.
Drinking coffee with meals has been shown to increase both insulin resistance and glucose levels dramatically. In the November 5, 2009, issue of "British Journal of Nutrition," Terry Graham, M.D., and colleagues found that in healthy young males, caffeinated coffee consumed with carbohydrate caused insulin insensitivity. They concluded that caffeine affects glycemic control.
If you have diabetes, the effects of caffeine on your blood sugar levels may be worse. Duke researchers led by James D. Lane, Ph.D., reported in the February 2009 issue of "Diabetes Care" that drinking the equivalent of two 8-oz. cups of coffee with both breakfast and lunch increased daytime blood glucose levels plus glucose response immediately after eating. The researchers warn that repeated episodes of such elevation could jeopardize blood sugar control.
These recent studies conflict with past studies about coffee, which have consistently found that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Harvard researcher Rob van Dam, Ph.D., suspects that future work will reveal it's another compound in coffee that offers the protective effects, counteracting the caffeine, according to CBSNews.
If you are concerned about how your body reacts to drinking coffee, there are several things you can do. One, of course, is to stop drinking it. If you enjoy coffee, another option is to switch to decaffeinated coffee, which may allow you to continue to benefit from coffee's other compounds.
And, if you have diabetes, talk with your doctor about coffee in your diet.
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