The Best Drinks for Diabetes

(Besides Plain Water)

Cucumber water

Verywell / Zorica Lakonic

Dehydration is a common side effect for people living with diabetes. It's related to your blood sugar levels and how hard your kidneys are working to manage fluids in the body as a result of higher blood glucose.

Staying well hydrated means drinking enough fluids to keep your body healthy and that's important for people who don't have diabetes, too. But when you're managing diabetes, you need to be selective about the beverages you choose, avoiding those that cause your blood sugar to spike.

This article presents information about fruit juices, diet soda, coffee, tea, and other beverages. It will help you to know more about avoiding dehydration while choosing drinks that keep your blood sugar levels stable and your diabetes well managed.

Why You Need to Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is vital for general health, and even more so for people with diabetes. Drinking ample fluid throughout the day can help support glucose control by flushing out excess sugar in the blood through urine.

At the same time, being dehydrated is a common side effect of diabetes. When the body doesn't produce enough insulin or becomes less sensitive to insulin (a condition known as insulin resistance), sugar can build up in the bloodstream. This forces the kidneys to work extra hard and increases the amount of urine produced and how often you need to urinate (pee).

Ultimately, the body becomes dehydrated as fluid is pulled from the organs and tissues. Keeping on top of your fluid intake can help to support your kidneys and keep your other organs healthy, while at the same time stabilizing your glucose levels.

Water is the best fluid to drink whether you have diabetes or not. It doesn't raise blood sugar.

What to Drink

When managing diabetes, water should be the drink of choice but there are healthy alternatives. They include:

  • Vegetable juices
  • Foods with high water content
  • Flavored sparkling waters

Diet soda isn't a good choice but if you drink one occasionally, there is likely no harm. It may even help you to satisfy a craving so that you can stay on your healthy beverage plan in the long term.

Vegetable Juices

Vegetable juices may not raise blood glucose levels as much as fruit juices do. Consider drinking juices including:

  • Tomato juice
  • Carrot juice
  • Celery juice
  • Kale juice

These veggie-based blends can be a good option, so long as they're nutrient-rich without any hidden fruit or added sugar. Check the label on the bottle or, for an even better option, make your own at home.

Hydrating Foods

Fluid intake is harder to track for people managing diabetes, but fresh fruits and vegetables count toward your daily hydration goals. You'll get a good dose of fiber, vitamins, and minerals with this water source, too.

Much of the water content in produce is lost during cooking, but you may prevent the loss by choosing soups and stews. Otherwise, you'll need to eat raw foods to get the most benefit.

Salads are a simple and straightforward way to enjoy hydrating foods, as are grain bowls and stir-fries topped with radishes, cucumbers, carrots, and other fresh vegetables.

Other options include:

  • Flavored filtered water: Add one or two slices of fresh fruit, such as lemon, lime, or orange, or a few berries, cucumber slices, or herbs like mint. You'll get the essence of the flavor without added calories or carbs.
  • Homemade iced tea: Steep herbal or green tea bags in hot water and then chill the tea. When you use a fruit-flavored tea bag to make your iced tea, you might even find it doesn't need additional sweetness. Not to mention, you'll reap additional health benefits of green tea.
  • Flavored sparkling waters: Try serving them in wine glasses with dinner. To take things to the next level, add a splash of tart cherry juice (naturally low in sugar) and a few fresh or frozen cherries as garnish.

Milk, along with yogurt and other dairy products, may offer benefits in lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes while also providing nutrients like calcium and vitamin D. Researchers, however, say more study is needed to understand the various effects of dairy products in the diet.

What to Avoid

Water and some of its alternatives are good choices for people living with diabetes, but other beverages may spike your blood sugar levels. They offer few benefits in managing your diabetes in the long term and can include:

  • Fruit Juices
  • Alcohol
  • Excessive coffee or tea
  • Sports and energy drinks
  • Soda

Fruit Juices

Whole, fresh fruit can and should be part of a diabetes-friendly diet, but fruit juice is a different story. It's low in fiber, so it delivers quick carbohydrates that can also elevate blood sugar.

That may make it helpful when you're hypoglycemic and your blood sugar is low, but fast-acting fruit juice isn't helpful on a day-to-day basis. Fruit juice may still have benefits in that it contains vitamins and minerals, but you're better off drinking water and eating a serving of fresh fruit alongside it for better glucose control.


Even though it's a liquid, alcohol can actually be dehydrating. Alcohol also can raise or lower blood sugar and shouldn't be mixed with most blood sugar medications, so you need to be careful with alcohol while following a diabetes-focused plan.

It's recommended that people with diabetes drink moderately—that means no more than two drinks per day for men, one for women—if at all. Eating something along with alcohol can help stabilize your blood sugar.

Coffee and Tea

Research shows that caffeine-containing beverages can contribute to your hydration goals—as long as you're a regular coffee/tea drinker. Occasional caffeine drinkers should be aware of a dehydrating effect, however.

Caffeine shuts off a hormone responsible for holding onto water called the antidiuretic hormone (ADH), which causes an increase in urination. Basically, everything you drink after that morning cup will get quickly urinated out. It's best to drink extra water two hours before and two hours after caffeine to compensate for the ADH effect.

Sports and Energy Drinks

Many people choose sports and energy drinks when thirsty or while exercising. In fact, an Australian study of sugared beverage consumption found that fruit juices were the most common type, but 12.3% of them were sports and energy drinks (compared with artificially sweetened sodas at 18.1%.)

These tend to be high in sugar and should generally be avoided. One exception may be during exercise, when small amounts can help to avoid low blood sugar.

Soda and Diabetes

The association between sugar-sweetened soda consumption and developing diabetes is long established. Essentially, soda and other sugar-added beverages can quickly spike blood sugar levels, as the carbohydrates are readily available for digestion and not slowed down by fiber, fat, or protein.

Because soda is so easy to drink, it can increase your daily sugar consumption to very high levels without you even noticing. Sugar-sweetened soda and other sugary drinks are also major contributors to obesity.

Diet Soda and Diabetes

Five artificial sweeteners (as well as stevia) are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They are saccharin, acesulfame, aspartame, neotame, and sucralose. These sweeteners can be used in sugar-free and diet sodas, but some studies show these drinks are still linked to obesity and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

One study found that the artificial sweeteners in diet soda are harmful to gut bacteria, and there's a resulting relationship between drinking diet soda and increased insulin resistance, weight gain, and diabetes.

Scientists have proposed that other behaviors that go along with drinking diet soda (namely overeating and lack of exercise) are to blame for weight gain, insulin resistance, and diabetes. There seems to be both a direct and indirect effect between drinking diet soda and diabetes.

However, the artificial sweeteners in diet soda and other sugar-free beverages have not been found to cause other health issues and can provide flexibility for planning diabetes-friendly meals.​

How Much Water to Drink Each Day

For most people, including those with diabetes, about 20% of your water intake comes from the water in soups, fruit, and other foods you eat. The rest comes from beverages, ideally including large amounts of water.

The recommended daily fluid intake varies for different groups. Guidelines from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy are:

  • Men: 16 cups total (about 13 cups from water and beverages)
  • Women: 11 cups total (about 9 cups from water and beverages)
  • Pregnant people: 13 cups total (about 10 cups from water and beverages)
  • Breastfeeding people: 16 cups total (about 13 cups from water and beverages)

Ask your healthcare provider if this is the right amount of fluid for you, as many factors can increase or decrease your fluid needs—including caffeine intake, weight, and kidney function. Additionally, when it is very hot or you are exercising, you may need more fluid.

Be sure to note if you frequently have other symptoms of dehydration, such as:

  • Dark urine
  • Infrequent urination (fewer than four times a day)
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness

Tell your healthcare provider if you experience these symptoms along with excessive thirst.

If you find yourself so thirsty that you are regularly drinking more water than recommended, or you feel your thirst is unquenchable, bring this to your healthcare provider's attention. These can be signs you aren't managing your diabetes as well as you could.


People living with diabetes who seek to manage their illness and keep blood sugars stable need to be mindful of their beverage intake as well as their food choices. Some drinks, including fruit juices, are likely to spike blood sugar.

Water is always the best choice, but other good options include vegetable juices and homemade iced teas. Drinks to avoid include alcoholic beverages and soda (even artificially sweetened sodas).

Staying hydrated is especially important with diabetes, so make sure that you're drinking enough. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have concerns about the beverages that you drink.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What drink lowers blood pressure for people with diabetes?

    Water is the best drink to help lower blood pressure and control diabetes. There's some research that other beverages may have benefits. For instance, hibiscus, which can be made into a tea, has shown some promise, but more research is needed. 

  • Can you have an alcoholic drink if you have type 1 diabetes?

    Yes, but keep in mind several tips to ensure you enjoy that drink safely.

    • Stick to the recommendations of one glass per day for women and two per day for men.
    • Don’t drink on an empty stomach.
    • Talk to your endocrinologist about appropriate insulin dosages for different types of alcohol.
    • Alternate between water and alcoholic drinks.
    • Be mindful of the carb levels of different types of alcohol.
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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Stacey Hugues
Stacey Hugues, RD is a registered dietitian and nutrition coach who works as a neonatal dietitian at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.