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Cut Diabetes Risk with One Less Sugary Drink Daily

May 04, 2015 02:26 PM EDT

New research shows that you can cut your risk for developing diabetes by between 14 and 25 percent just by replacing the daily consumption of one serving of a sugary drink with either water, or unsweetened tea or coffee.

The findings, published in the journal Diabetologia, are based on more than 25,000 men and women aged 40-79 years living in Norfolk, UK. Participants recorded everything that they ate and drank for a full week, focusing on amount and frequency of consumption, and whether sugar was added to their diet. During approximately 11 years of follow-up, 847 study participants were diagnosed with new-onset type 2 diabetes.

"By using this detailed dietary assessment with a food diary, we were able to study several different types of sugary beverages, including sugar-sweetened soft drinks, sweetened tea or coffee and sweetened milk drinks as well as artificially sweetened beverages (ASB) and fruit juice, and to examine what would happen if water, unsweetened tea or coffee or ASB were substituted for sugary drinks," lead scientist Dr. Nita Forouhi, of the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge, said in a press release.

What they found was that drinking a serving of water or unsweetened tea or coffee instead of a soft drink or sweetened milk beverage lowered participants' risk of diabetes by 14 percent. On the other hand, replacing a serving of sweetened milk beverage with these alternatives could result in a 20-25 percent decreased risk.

In addition, the researchers realized that for each 5 percent increase of a person's total energy intake provided by sweet drinks, including soft drinks, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes may increase by a whopping 18 percent.

So just with a simple diet change, people can cut their diabetes risk significantly.

"The good news is that our study provides evidence that replacing a daily serving of a sugary soft drink or sugary milk drink with water or unsweetened tea or coffee can help to cut the risk of diabetes, offering practical suggestions for healthy alternative drinks for the prevention of diabetes," Forouhi concluded.

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