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The #1 Worst Drink for Your Blood Sugar, Say Dietitians

Limit this beverage if you need to watch your blood sugar levels.

Anyone with diabetes has to keep an eye on their blood sugar. According to The Mayo Clinic, tracking blood glucose can help anyone keep track of the effect their diabetes medications may have on their blood sugar levels, monitor their blood sugar levels if they think it has spiked, and even see the results of diet and exercise have on their overall blood sugar levels.

Even if you think you have kept yourself in prime condition, sometimes certain foods or drinks can have an unforeseen effect on one's glucose levels. The CDC reports that artificial sweeteners may have the potential to raise your blood sugar, while others have noted that alcohol has the potential to raise these numbers even higher, per Medical News Today.

While drinks filled with artificial sweeteners and alcohol may cause some serious issues for diabetics who need to prevent blood sugar spikes, one type does more harm than any other beverage out there.

"Soda is on the top of the list of drinks to avoid," says Shannon Henry, RD at EZCare Clinic. "Usually, it contains 40 grams of sugar, and 150 calories, making it the worst drink for people with diabetes. This sugary drink is associated with weight gain, and tooth decay, so it is better to avoid them."


Henry isn't alone when it comes to pinpointing soda as the worst drink for diabetics.

"Soda—both diet and regular—are not good for those with diabetes," says Edith Yang, RD, CSR, CLT at Healthy Mission Dietitian, Inc.. "A 12-ounce can of soda has anywhere from 20 to 50 grams of sugar, which is equivalent to 5 to 12 teaspoons. Sugar isn't necessarily a bad thing but it can be when it is in the form of added sugar and in such large amounts. This type of sugar is what we call a simple sugar and can cause a quick spike in blood sugar."

Diet drinks that rely on sugar substitutes don't get off scot-free either.

"Diet soda uses artificial sweeteners to make it sweet, while this type of soda is sugar free, research shows that it can contribute to insulin resistance," says Yang.

Drink alternatives to turn to

If you need to make a switch towards a more wholesome soft drink, you have a ton of healthy choices at your disposal.

"Herbal teas like chamomile, ginger, and peppermint tea are healthy choices for people with diabetes," recommends Henry. "Herbal tea is low in carbohydrates, calories, as well as sugar, and is rich in antioxidant components, including carotenoids, flavonoids, and carbolic acid."

Sometimes tea just doesn't cut it and you might crave something with a few more bubbles. Luckily, another type of beverage might just hit the spot.

"A better alternative would be sparkling water," Yang said. "This is a great no sweetener added bubbly beverage that can be customized to your own liking. I love to have sparkling water with some lemon and lime squeezed in or with some frozen berries. Pop it into a wine or champagne glass, and you've got yourself a nice little treat and you can feel fancy!"

While you might have some luck cutting down on your soda habit, other drinking patterns may inadvertently cause your blood sugar to continue spiking. Luckily, you can check your own beverage habits against The Worst Drinking Habits if You Have Diabetes to see if you need to cut out any specific behaviors.

Erich Barganier
Erich Barganier is a health and food writer. Read more about Erich
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