Although traditionally coffee or tea is served at the conclusion of a big meal in many cultures, new research indicates that this practice may lead to a large spike in blood sugar levels. In a study conducted at the University of Guelph, individuals who drank coffee at the end of a heavy meal experienced a significant increase in their blood sugar levels, in comparison to those who skipped the coffee. The group that ingested a dinner rich in lipids and then drank regular, caffeinated coffee had glucose levels 33 % higher than those who didn’t conclude the meal with the effects of coffee.
Published in the Journal of Nutrition, this study indicates that there may be an interaction between coffee, fatty acids, and the hormones controlling blood sugar. Although it’s common knowledge that some side effects of coffee can include jittery feelings from caffeine, this shows that there may be a more complex reaction inside the body at play, which is worth paying attention to particularly for those individuals who are monitoring their blood sugar levels, such as pregnant women or diabetics. This could make it more difficult to sleep after a big meal, and can also make it more difficult for the body to digest the food, leading to heartburn or other difficulties.
One of the researchers who conducted this study, Marie-Soleil Beaudoin, stated that effects of coffee could be potentially “playing a role in why participants couldn’t clean the sugar from their blood as easily” as those who didn’t have the coffee. She also noted that there may be a further interaction that is yet unknown between coffee and the communication between the pancreas and the rest of the digestive system. It is currently unknown if it is the caffeine in the coffee that is the culprit, or if there are other substances at play.
These findings are partially significant because there has been so much in the medical news lately about the health benefits of coffee, which is a source of antioxidants. These play a strong role in the body’s cellular fight against free radicals, which damage DNA and lead to a number of diseases. Damage from free radicals has been linked to the spread of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and the regular aging process. As a result, many have been scrambling to find the best sources of antioxidants, with coffee being one option. However, because there are so many other foods that naturally contain antioxidants, it’s worth looking at the other options in light of studies such as this.
Some alternatives for those who are concerned with the negative effects of coffee include dietary supplements, rich in antioxidants such as vitamin E and C and beta-carotene. Other natural food sources of antioxidants include nuts, berries, and colorful vegetables. This study has helped showcase the negative effects of a fatty diet as well, which seems to interact poorly with the intake of coffee.