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Coffee with a fatty meal raises blood sugar to diabetes level

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Fast food and coffee

Caffeinated coffee and a high fat meal dangerously elevates blood sugar levels

Researchers at the University of Guelph have discovered having a high fat meal with coffee can raise blood sugar levels as much as 65 percent. In a first study, the investigators were able to show coffee, combined with saturated fat, blunts the release of insulin that keeps blood sugar levels normal.

The researchers say they already knew coffee raises the risk of diabetes. In a study, Marie-Soleil Beaudoin and colleagues found eating a high fat meal suppresses hormones that signal the pancreas to release insulin. When coffee is added, the effect doubles.

First study explores fatty food, caffeine effect on blood sugar

Beaudoin, along with U of G professors Lindsay Robinson and Terry Graham, conducted a study that they say is the first to look at the effect of saturated fat and coffee on blood sugar levels.

Beaudoin says, "Having sugar remain in our blood for long periods is unhealthy because it can take a toll on our body's organs." In the study, researchers tested the effect of fat and caffeine on blood sugar levels with a lipid (fat) cocktail that they said allowed them to see what happens in the body when fat is ingested. The beverage contained only lipids.

For the study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, men ingested the lipid cocktail and five hours later, they were given a sugar drink. The result was a 32 percent increase in blood sugar compared to not consuming the fatty beverage.

In another test, the researchers gave the men the fatty drink then the equivalent of two cups of coffee in five hours. An hour after ingesting the coffee equivalent, the men were again given a sugar drink. This time blood sugar levels spiked 65 percent higher.

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The researchers say the findings are important for anyone at risk for type 2 diabetes or with metabolic syndrome. Beaudoin says, “This shows that the effects of a high-fat meal can last for hours. What you eat for lunch can impact how your body responds to food later in the day."

The reason for high blood sugar levels in response to a high fat meal is lack of communication between the intestines that release incretin hormones that stimulate insulin release and the pancreas.

"Ultimately we have found that fat and caffeinated coffee are impairing the communication between the gut and the pancreas, which could be playing a role in why participants couldn't clear the sugar from their blood as easily," said Beaudoin.

The study authors say drinking decaffeinated coffee is one way to improve glucose tolerance and reduce the chances of type 2 diabetes. The findings show a high fat meal combined with caffeine can have a long-lasting effect on blood sugar levels that increased to the same levels as that seen in diabetics in the men studied.

Saturated fat, combined with caffeinated coffee, destroys the body's ability to clear sugar from the blood stream and deliver it to muscles for energy.

J. Nutr. April 2011 141: 574-581; doi:10.3945/jn.110.132761
"An Oral Lipid Challenge and Acute Intake of Caffeinated Coffee Additively Decrease Glucose Tolerance in Healthy Men"
Marie-Soleil Beaudoin, Lindsay E. Robinson, and Terry E. Graham

Image source: Morgue File