Diabetes Type 1 And Hydration

What is type 1 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is a condition where the body’s immune system attacks cells in the pancreas leading to a significantly reduced or total absence of insulin production or very little insulin production.1 Insulin is essential as it facilitates glucose entry into cells, thereby providing fuel to these cells. It also keeps blood glucose levels under control, which is important as raised blood sugar is destructive to the body and triggers further complications. 

With type 1 diabetes, carbohydrates from food and drinks are broken down by the body and converted to glucose. But upon reaching the bloodstream, glucose is unable to enter the body’s cells due to insufficient insulin. The glucose builds up in the bloodstream, leading to high blood sugar levels.2

Type 1 diabetes is also referred to as juvenile or insulin-dependent diabetes. It generally develops in young adults, children, and teens although it can occur at any age. Type 1 diabetes is not as widespread as type 2 diabetes. Though there is no way to fully prevent type 1 diabetes, it can be managed effectively.3

Water is the safest drink for people with type 1 diabetes 

It contains no sugar

Water contains no sugar, which makes it the perfect drink for people with type 1 diabetes. Research has shown that drinking water can help regulate blood glucose levels.4 When choosing what to drink, people with type 1 diabetes have some factors to take into account, so water is the safest option as it provides the hydration the body needs and is carbohydrate-free, calorie-free, and most importantly, sugar-free.

Helps regulate blood volume, and in turn, blood glucose levels

For those with type 1 diabetes, hydration is of extra importance because drinking water will help the kidneys flush out excess glucose.4 Water reduces blood glucose levels by diluting the sugar in the bloodstream. It also relieves the dehydration that occurs due to excess urination caused by high glucose levels.5 

Tips for staying hydrated with type 1 diabetes

Be careful with caffeine

One way of staying hydrated is reducing caffeine, as most caffeinated drinks have a mild diuretic effect - this means that they cause the need to urinate frequently and can increase  the risk of dehydration.6

People with type 1 diabetes should also note the effect of caffeine on insulin action. It can be associated with lower or higher blood sugar levels. It only takes 200 milligrams of caffeine to affect the blood sugar of individuals with diabetes - this is the amount of caffeine found in one or two cups of coffee and three or four cups of tea.6

Be careful with fruit juices and fizzy drinks

It is also advised that people with type 1 diabetes stay away from fruit juices and fizzy drinks.  The sugar levels in these drinks can trigger substantial spikes in blood sugar levels, which increases the possibility of hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar levels). 

The glycaemic index (GI), a range used to indicate the effect of individual foods on blood sugar levels, places juices such as orange juice at around 66-76 on a scale of 100. Therefore, fruit juice is a high-GI food and is best avoided by people with diabetes in most situations. 

However, there are some situations where fruit juice can be helpful, by raising blood sugar swiftly when it is dangerously low (hypoglycaemia). 

Experiment with adding flavours to water

Drinking plain water is not appealing to some people. Some ways of making water more exciting to drink include:

  • Adding slices of orange or lemon, 
  • Adding flavourful herbs such as mint, 
  • Adding frozen fruits such as raspberries and strawberries. 


Type 1 diabetes is a condition characterised by the deficiency or lack of production of insulin. This causes problems in the regulation of glucose and therefore blood sugar levels. When blood sugar levels are not controlled, dangerous complications can occur. For this reason, people with type 1 diabetes are given dietary and lifestyle advice. Drinking adequate amounts of water is essential for one’s well-being. Water is a great drink of choice for people with type 1 diabetes as it contains no sugar, and research has shown that drinking it can help regulate blood glucose levels. Other measures people with type 1 diabetes can take to ensure adequate hydration and maintain normal blood sugar levels include avoidance of caffeinated and fizzy drinks and fruit juices.


  1. What is type 1 diabetes? [Internet]. nhs.uk. 2022 [cited 2022 Oct 13]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/type-1-diabetes/about-type-1-diabetes/what-is-type-1-diabetes/
  2. Type 1 diabetes [Internet]. Diabetes UK. [cited 2022 Oct 13]. Available from: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/diabetes-the-basics/types-of-diabetes/type-1
  3. CDC. What is type 1 diabetes? [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2022 [cited 2022 Oct 13]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/what-is-type-1-diabetes.html
  4. Singh A. As water contains no carbohydrate or calories, it is the perfect drink for people with diabetes. Studies have also shown that drinking water could help control blood glucose levels. [Internet]. Diabetes. 2019 [cited 2022 Oct 14]. Available from: https://www.diabetes.co.uk/food/water-and-diabetes.html
  5. EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition, and Allergies (NDA). Scientific opinion on dietary reference values for water. EFS2 [Internet]. 2010 Mar [cited 2022 Oct 14];8(3). Available from: https://data.europa.eu/doi/10.2903/j.efsa.2010.1459
  6. Why people with diabetes should avoid caffeine? lTheHealthSite.com | TheHealthSite.com [Internet]. TheHealthSite. 2020 [cited 2022 Oct 14]. Available from: https://www.thehealthsite.com/diseases-conditions/diabetes/diabetes-diet-does-caffeine-in-coffee-and-tea-affects-your-blood-sugar-levels-781812/

Iqra Khalif

Pharmaceutical Science, University of Hertfordshire

Iqra Khalif is a pharmaceutical scientist with deep roots in research and development. She has a leadership qualification in global health and is interested in strategising for innovation in the life sciences.
She currently works in data analytics and management for a health-tech startup.

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