Should You Drink Fruit Juice if Type 2 Diabetic?

Sripathi R. Kethu, M.D. FACG.

By Sripathi R. Kethu, M.D. FACG.


Fruit Juice Can Worsen Your Diabetes

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, or have been diagnosed with diabetes for some time, then you’ll know the pain of adjusting your diet to maintain your blood sugar levels. One of the most difficult lifestyle changes you’ll be asked to make is altering what you drink on a daily basis. That’s because in many ways what you think is good for you, such as fruit juice, may in fact be making your condition worse.

Reducing Sugary Drinks

Sugary Drinks

The causes of Type 2 Diabetes are many, but diet is a key risk factor. By reducing fatty foods and unhealthy drinks, the condition can often be controlled even without medication. But while dropping those steak nights and avoiding your favorite chocolate bars seems like common sense, when reducing sugary drinks, advice is not always as clear.

It’s well advertised that drinks such as cola and other carbonated beverages contain unhealthy amounts of sugar. Indeed, a standard can of coke contains 26.5g of sugar, which is the equivalent of 5.5 teaspoons. But this doesn’t come as much of a shock. It’s well known that these types of drinks have high sugar content, just ask your dentist.

But what about fruit juices?

What’s staggering is that fruit juice contains unhealthy amounts of sugar as well. Just one cup of orange juice can contain as much as 21g of sugar. Not that much different from carbonated drinks such as coke and lemonade. For someone with diabetes, this can play havoc with their blood sugar levels.

But Fruit Juices Are Good For You, Aren’t They?

But Fruit Juices Are Good For You, Aren't They

Well, fruit juice is both good and bad for you. It’s full of vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients which are great for the body. The problem is the sugar. Fruit contains a sugar called fructose, but when we eat a whole piece of fruit such as an apple or orange, this sugar doesn’t enter our systems all at once. The reason for this is that fruit is also high in fiber. This solid material, along with many other health benefits such as protection against bowel cancer, also slowly releases the glucose as it is digested. For diabetics, this is a big deal. Any spike in sugar can exacerbate symptoms, sometimes dangerously so. Eating whole fruits however allows someone with diabetes to enjoy the benefits of fruit without experiencing these massive doses of sugar in one go.

Fruit juice does not contain this fiber. It only possesses the juices, which unfortunately carry the fructose with it. This means that the body is exposed to all of the sugar at once, which causes massive spikes in blood sugar levels, increasing the dangers of diabetes.

So what should a diabetes sufferer do about fruit juice?

Some Helpful Tips:

It can be difficult to find a pleasant drink, especially if you are having to quit a lifetime habit of carbonated drinks. If fruit juices are also ruled out, then what can you drink? Is water your only option? Try these suggestions:

  • Combine Foods: You may still be able to drink fruit juice if you combine it with a meal which is high in fiber. This will help to slowly release the fructose, however, it will still raise you blood sugar level, just not as quickly or by as much. 
  • Monitor Blood Levels: Everyone’s biochemistry is different. It may be that you can still occasionally enjoy a glass of fruit juice without experiencing negative effects. However, this should only be done with the advice of your doctor and by monitoring your blood levels. Moderation is always key, but if your blood sugar levels are a concern, then fruit juices should be avoided. 
  • Vegetable Juices: Non-starchy vegetable juice such as carrot, kale, cucumber, and tomato can be consumed without worrying too much about the high levels of sugar. Juicing does, however, remove the fibre which is one of the benefits of eating vegetables whole. 
  • Herbal Tea: There are a number of herbal teas such as Red Bush (Roiboos) which can be refreshing, while containing many nutrients such as polyphenols which may fight off the aging process to some degree. 
  • Milk: This old classic drink is still going strong, and provides a good source of calcium for the body, but low fat varieties should be used as obesity is also a major contributing factor to Type 2 Diabetes. 

The Bottom Line

Fruit juice contains similar amounts of harmful sugar as carbonated drinks like coke and lemonade. If you suffer from Type 2 Diabetes, then you should limit or remove fruit juices from your diet entirely.


Sripathi R. Kethu, M.D. FACG.

Sripathi R. Kethu, M.D. FACG.

Dr Kethu is a practicing Gastroenterologist. He is a healthcare and real estate entrepreneur. He writes frequently on topics related to health care, healthy living, and physical fitness. He is the author of Amazon’s best-selling book, “The IBS Guide”. He is an avid marathon runner and is on track to finish his 100th marathon in 2024.

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