Coconut water is a nutritious and refreshing beverage that keeps the body hydrated, maintains electrolyte balance in the body, and provides multiple micronutrients, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. It stimulates blood circulation, protects liver and kidneys, improves metabolism, regulates blood sugar level of diabetics, and is a natural sports drink.
The article explores in detail the impact of coconut water on diabetics.
BENEFITS OF COCONUT WATER FOR DIABETICS:
1. Maintains electrolyte balance: Diabetics are susceptible to electrolyte imbalance which may cause deficiency of potassium, magnesium, sodium, calcium, anti oxidants in the body. Electrolyte disorders can occur because of multiple factors like poor nutrition, bad gastro intestinal absorption capacity, co morbidity or an acute illness. Coconut water induces electrolyte balance as it is rich in the following minerals:
a) Potassium: Potassium helps the body to keep the blood sugar level in control. It boosts the body to produce insulin naturally. Potassium lowers the risk of cardiac attack, controls blood pressure, adds muscle strength, improves nervous functioning and regulates the functioning of kidneys.
b) Magnesium: Diabetics often suffer from blood vessel complications. Magnesium and sodium helps to widen the blood vessels for better circulation of blood. It also helps to curb muscle cramps, produces energy, improves glucose utilisation and supports organ functioning.
c) Calcium: Bones of diabetic patients become tender with time and may lose minerals faster than a normal person. Calcium makes bones and teeth stronger and helps muscles to contract and work properly.
d)Antioxidants: Coconut water is infused with antioxidants that help to get rid of harmful free radicals and combat oxidative stress caused by high blood sugar levels. Antioxidants play an important role in delaying aging of organs and tissues of diabetic patients as their body ages faster than that of a healthier person.
2. Helps in weight loss: Coconut water is a storehouse of minerals and nutrients and contains 95% water. It is devoid of any artificial sweeteners, added sugar, food colourings or any other preservatives. Coconut water contains very less calories as compared to other drinks like soda, juice etc. it also consists of few carbohydrates which provide enough energy for workout. It is a great source for rehydrating oneself after an intense workout.
3. Low glycaemic Index(GI): Foods that contain carbohydrates increase blood sugar levels and glycaemic index is a measure of how fast one’s blood sugar level rises. Coconut water contains less amount of carbohydrates, therefore its glycemic index is very low, and that’s why Coconut water doesn’t increase glucose level in the body rapidly.
One immature green coconut carries 300-350ml water which contains around 800mg of potassium, 10gm glucose, and 300gm sodium along with silicon, iron, phosphorous, magnesium and calcium. Coconut water without Malai contains around 5gm glucose which is advisable for diabetic patients. Patients with controlled blood sugar level can consume coconut water at any time of the day, but, if one has fluctuating blood sugar levels then it is advisable to consume it between the two main meals say time between breakfast and lunch or lunch and dinner. This reduces the risk of dropping of blood sugar level after meal. One glass of coconut water increases sugar level in body equivalent to the increase by ½ chapatti. So patients with fluctuating sugar can drink one glass of coconut water daily by balancing it with ½ chapatti less.
Also, diabetics with controlled blood sugar who workout everyday can consume it daily without the fear of spike in sugar levels, whereas patients with uncontrolled blood sugar are advised not to consume it every day as it can cause immediate blood sugar fluctuations.
It is advisable to consume natural organic coconut water directly from the coconut than from any bottled or packaged source. Bottled coconut water can contain added sugar and preservatives which can be detrimental for diabetic patients.
In spite of all the benefits of coconut water it can also cause some harm to diabetics if consumed in excess. Diet of diabetic patients comes with constraints and appropriate proportions.
Coconut water contains fructose which is natural sugar but it can increase blood sugar levels, so patients with uncontrolled high blood sugar level should avoid drinking anything sweet. Drinking coconut water in excess can affect kidneys as it contains potassium in great amounts. Diabetic patients who have kidney problems or urea accumulation issues should consult their doctor before consuming potassium rich food items. Diabetic patients with blood pressure problems and those who take medication for the same should not consume coconut water in excess as the sodium and potassium in it can cause blood pressure imbalance. Diabetic patients who are on medication should only drink coconut water with doctor’s approval. Persons who have bad gastro intestinal absorption problems should refrain from consuming coconut water daily as it can cause uneasiness, bloating or gas problems. Coconut maintains the Ph of the body and has a cooling effect on the system, so consuming too much of it can lead to excess urination and cold.
Persons with diabetes who have healthy kidneys, lungs and heart, no comorbidities and controlled blood sugar level can consume water from one average sized coconut everyday whereas, patients with any of the above issues need to consume coconut water in a regulatory manner else they can suffer consequences.
Answering your queries.
a) Can coconut water cure diabetes?
No, coconut water cannot cure diabetes but can help control diabetes. Coconut water is rich in fibre which when consumed can keep one full for longer with minimal carbohydrate intake. Coconut water can prevent type 2 diabetes as high fibre foods prevent fat accumulation around abdomen and obesity problems which reduce stress on pancreas and thus it can produce insulin naturally to maintain healthy sugar level in blood.
b) Can coconut water cause chest problems?
Coconut water has a cooling tendency and patients with lung problems like bronchitis, asthma, alveoli issues or those who catch cold easily should refrain from drinking too much coconut water. Also, consuming too much coconut water can cause gas problems in the intestines due to electrolyte imbalance which can trigger chest pain.
c) Can coconut water cause allergic reactions to diabetics?
If a diabetic patient is allergic to coconut itself or food items with potassium, magnesium or calcium, then consuming coconut water can cause allergic reactions. People who have low water retention problems should not consume too much coconut water as it can cause swelling in body parts. Patients with comorbidities should consume coconut water with doctor’s consultation only.
d) Can coconut water cause diarrhea?
Though coconut water is a safe drink for many, the excessive potassium availed from the drink can lead to electrolyte imbalance which can upset one’s stomach or cause diarrhea.