My friends describe me as a coffee snob, which is true, and I make no apologies for liking exceptional coffee! But what are the effects of caffeine for a Type 1 Diabetic? ☕️
January 2017, one week after a stint in ICU while I was recovering in the ward, the hospital nutritionalist payed me a visit to sort through what my relationship with food a drink would be after my diagnosis. The first question I had was regarding my daily consumption of coffee and whether or not it could continue. Thankfully, it could.
For me, coffee (with no sugar/additives) has no effect on my BG readings but can impact me in other ways…
The effects of caffeine vary for every person. However, coffee can simulate the symptoms of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). When there is too much caffeine in the system, your heart rate typically increases and you can feel quite shakey which mimics the appearance of a hypo. So it’s always important to check BG levels before you treat the presumed hypo, otherwise you’re increasing your blood sugar levels unnecessarily.
Too much caffeine with bad timing, will also cause a lack of sleep. Sleep is actually very important for Type 1 Diabetics, not enough sleep will raise your insulin resistance, meaning you’ll require more insulin with every intake of carbohydrates.
The studies on the effects on caffeine and Type 1 Diabetes are vastly inconsistent which suggests that it varies for everybody. There have been several incidents where I have treated a supposed hypo when I wasn’t actually low, I just hadn’t eaten before I had my coffee and I felt jittery which obviously sky rocketed my readings.
Generally, I limit myself to two coffees per day, and I have them straight after a meal to lessen the chances of that ‘hypo feeling’. It’s important to monitor trends (this is where the freestyle libre comes in handy!) when you ingest caffeine and see what effects if any it has on your blood sugar level so you can plan accordingly and always check your levels if you think you’re experiencing a hypo!