Regular coffee drinking may prevent type 2 diabetes developing in women who had gestational diabetes, researchers in Singapore have revealed.

The study, “Habitual coffee consumption and subsequent risk of type 2 diabetes in individuals with a history of gestational diabetes – a prospective study” by the National University of Singapore, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, has revealed regular long-term consumption of caffeinated coffee in women who had diabetes during pregnancy can reduce the risk of it returning.

Compared to the general healthy female population, these women may face a ten-fold higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Professor Zhang Director of the Global Centre for Asian Women’s Health (GloW) and a professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore (NUS Medicine) led the study.

Together with her team of researchers at GloW, in collaboration with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 4,500 white female participants who had a history of gestational diabetes for over 25 years were monitored.

For those who drank four or more cups of caffeinated coffee, two to three cups or one cup of coffee or less, the risk of type 2 diabetes was reduced by 53%, 17% and 10% respectively, when compared to those who did not consume caffeinated coffee at all.

Furthermore, it was discovered drinking caffeinated coffee instead of artificially sweetened and sugar-sweetened drinks also reduces the risk, by 17 % for a cup of one sweetened with sugar and 10 % for a cup sweetened artificially.

Professor Zhng explained: “Thus far, the overall findings suggest that caffeinated coffee, when consumed properly (two to five cups per day, without sugar and whole-fat/high-fat dairy), could be incorporated into a relatively healthy lifestyle for certain population.

“The beneficial roles of coffee have been consistently suggested across diverse populations, including Asians. Coffee is a popular beverage choice in Singapore, but local coffee drinking culture and behaviours may vary among individuals, such as brewing methods, drinking frequency, and other condiments contained in the coffee. Thus, more studies are needed to examine the roles of coffee consumption in the local context with major health outcomes.”

Expanding on Professor Zhang’s point, Dr Jiaxi Yang, the first author of the study and a postdoctoral research fellow at GloW and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NUS Medicine who is currently leading the working group of Nutrition and Lifestyle at GloW, added: “Although coffee presents as a potentially healthier alternative to sweetened beverages, the health benefits of coffee vary and much depend on the type and the amount of condiments, like sugar and milk, that you add into your coffee.”

The researchers advised against consuming coffee in excessive amounts as further research is needed into the effects of drinking coffee during pregnancy and on foetuses and children.

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