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Why does caffeine affect insulin and blood sugar levels?

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Scientists are still learning how caffeine affects your insulin and blood sugar levels. But they think it may work this way:

  • Caffeine raises levels of certain stress hormones, like epinephrine (also called adrenaline). Epinephrine can prevent your cells from processing as much sugar.
  • It may also keep your body from making as much insulin.
  • It blocks a protein called adenosine. This molecule plays a big role in how much insulin your body makes. It also controls how your cells respond to it. Caffeine keeps adenosine from doing its job. It can’t clear sugar from your blood as quickly.
  • It takes a toll on your sleep. Too much caffeine can keep you awake. Lack of sleep may also lower your insulin sensitivity.

SOURCES:

FDA: “Medicines in My Home: Caffeine and Your Body.”

Diabetes Care : “Acute Effects of Decaffeinated Coffee and the Major Coffee Components Chlorogenic Acid and Trigonelline on Glucose Tolerance,” “Caffeine: A Cause of Insulin Resistance?” “Caffeine Can Decrease Insulin Sensitivity in Humans,” “Caffeine Increases Ambulatory Glucose and Postprandial Responses in Coffee Drinkers With Type 2 Diabetes,” “Coffee, Caffeine, and Type 2 Diabetes.”

Mayo Clinic: “Caffeine Content for Coffee, Tea, Soda and More,” “Caffeine: Does It Affect Blood Sugar?” “Diabetes: Complications,” “Nutrition and Healthy Eating.”

Joslin Diabetes Center: “What Is Insulin Resistance?”

American Diabetes Association: “Type 2.”

Sacha Uelmen, director of nutrition, American Diabetes Association.

Journal of Clinical Investigation : “Epinephrine-induced Insulin Resistance in Man.”

Nature Review Endocrinology : “Adenosine signalling in diabetes mellitus -- pathophysiology and therapeutic considerations.”

Annals of Internal Medicine : “Impaired Insulin Signaling in Human Adipocytes After Experimental Sleep Restriction: A Randomized, Crossover Study.”

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition : “The Evaluation of Inflammatory and Oxidative Stress Biomarkers on Coffee -- Diabetes Association: Results From the 10-year Follow-up of The ATTICA Study (2002–2012).”

Reviewed by Michael Dansinger on April 13, 2017

SOURCES:

FDA: “Medicines in My Home: Caffeine and Your Body.”

Diabetes Care : “Acute Effects of Decaffeinated Coffee and the Major Coffee Components Chlorogenic Acid and Trigonelline on Glucose Tolerance,” “Caffeine: A Cause of Insulin Resistance?” “Caffeine Can Decrease Insulin Sensitivity in Humans,” “Caffeine Increases Ambulatory Glucose and Postprandial Responses in Coffee Drinkers With Type 2 Diabetes,” “Coffee, Caffeine, and Type 2 Diabetes.”

Mayo Clinic: “Caffeine Content for Coffee, Tea, Soda and More,” “Caffeine: Does It Affect Blood Sugar?” “Diabetes: Complications,” “Nutrition and Healthy Eating.”

Joslin Diabetes Center: “What Is Insulin Resistance?”

American Diabetes Association: “Type 2.”

Sacha Uelmen, director of nutrition, American Diabetes Association.

Journal of Clinical Investigation : “Epinephrine-induced Insulin Resistance in Man.”

Nature Review Endocrinology : “Adenosine signalling in diabetes mellitus -- pathophysiology and therapeutic considerations.”

Annals of Internal Medicine : “Impaired Insulin Signaling in Human Adipocytes After Experimental Sleep Restriction: A Randomized, Crossover Study.”

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition : “The Evaluation of Inflammatory and Oxidative Stress Biomarkers on Coffee -- Diabetes Association: Results From the 10-year Follow-up of The ATTICA Study (2002–2012).”

Reviewed by Michael Dansinger on April 13, 2017

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How much caffeine is too much caffeine?

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