Ask the Pharmacist: The coffee and blood sugar connection

Suzy Cohen
Close-up of steaming coffee being poured into a white coffee cup sitting on a saucer with coffee beans scattered on surface in background.

Coffee gets a bad rap sometimes, but this is almost everyone’s drink of choice when they gather together to share information with one another. The effect of coffee consumption on glucose metabolism is of interest to many people who feel they’ve lost all their sweet treats in life, and their coffee.

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And here’s the good news: Coffee addicts have a lower propensity of developing type 2 diabetes, according to some interesting studies. The results of many studies are fairly consistent about this point!

Not all health experts and nutritionists think coffee is good for people with diabetes, however a new Singapore study may be the most conclusive of all.

The research was funded by Nestlé Research who makes coffee brands like Nespresso, Nescafé and Coffee-Mate creamer. Before you dismiss the results of this study, keep in mind that the trial was a larger-scale human study than the prior ones and there are other studies out there with similar, positive results.

The researchers found that drinking coffee creates no detrimental effect on insulin sensitivity, so it may be perfectly fine for people with diabetes.

This conclusion was derived from a randomized, placebo-controlled study evaluating 126 middle-aged people who were split into two groups. Half the group drank four cups of fake coffee (placebo), and the other half drank four cups of instant regular coffee.

Data was collected over 24 weeks (which allows enough time for blood sugar changes to reflect in their A1c). Unfortunately, the A1c was not done, or if it was, the results were not published. I’m bothered by this. Regardless, the coffee bean is well studied and here are other purported medical benefits of drinking coffee in moderation:

  • It reduces the perceived feeling of pain, meaning it’s a natural analgesic.
  • Coffee may support liver health.
  • It acts as a natural stimulant for some adolescents dealing with attention deficit disorders.
  • It can help with memory and possibly even Alzheimer’s disease.
  • It may offer some protection for Parkinson’s disease.
  • Coffee is a mood booster. It can help with depression and suicidal ideation.
  • Prostate cancer and melanoma risk may be reduced.

A gross fact is that the most expensive coffee brand sold today is that which is derived from cat poop! No lie, it’s called Kopi Luwak and the coffee bean must be partially digested and extracted from the feces.

And now a fun fact to help you get that visual out of your head. In ancient times, in what is now known as Turkey, a woman could divorce her husband if he didn’t provide her with enough coffee! Ha ha!

Whether or not caffeinated coffee is right for you is hard to say. But if you have longed for a cup of coffee again, and you believe the studies, have a chat with your diabetes health expert.  

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Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. The information presented here is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any condition. Visit