For blood sugar control, it's tea time

You're thirstier than a cactus and have less energy than a dog in a heat wave... but you just ate and drank something an hour or two ago.

When you're diabetic or headed that direction, it feels like you'll never eat a meal or snack again without suffering the slings and arrows of a blood sugar spike.

Your body is supposed to release enough insulin after you eat to bring your blood sugar back down to normal levels -- but when that's not the case, your soaring glucose leaves you unusually thirsty and tired.

And eventually, that'll translate into something more serious, like nerve or eye damage.

But according to a new study, you can enjoy a meal or snack without feeling like you've trekked through the desert afterwards -- because you can smooth out those blood sugar spikes with a refreshing spot of tea.

The study, published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that natural plant compounds in black tea called "polyphenols" can reduce the amount of glucose in your blood... even AFTER you eat a sugary snack.

In the study, 24 participants -- half with normal blood sugar levels and half pre-diabetic -- ate a small, low-sugar dinner and then fasted until the next morning. For "breakfast," they were given a sugary drink accompanied by a beverage containing tea polyphenols or a placebo.

When their blood sugar was measured over the next two hours, it turned out that the tea polyphenols actually SUPPRESSED the postprandial blood sugar spike from the sugary treat and REDUCED the amount of glucose in the blood -- even among the pre-diabetic group!

That's solid evidence that if you want to control or stave off diabetes, make black tea your beverage of choice with (preferably healthy) snacks and meals.

Plus, aside from the blood sugar benefits of tea, there are lots of other good reasons to make this ancient drink your "cup of tea": Imbibing tea regularly can slash your risk of Alzheimer's and dementia by half, promote strong bones , and fight coronary artery disease .

If you want to add a little kick to it, lemon not only makes a perfect flavor complement -- but the vitamin C in the citrus might also help hold blood sugar down! A recent meta-analysis out of the UK found that over time, supplementing your diet with vitamin C can significantly reduce blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.

As the weather warms up, you'll find some iced black tea to be a cup of cool relief.

Now, you don't want to grab a monster-sized bottle of store-bought iced tea -- because those bottled drinks are typically loaded with sugar.

Instead, brew a pot at home and stick a pitcher in the fridge for an easy refresher all summer long.

Not all teas are created equal, though. Conventional, individually-wrapped tea bags can be laden with toxins, so I recommend choosing organic loose leaf and whole leaf teas and investing in your own tea strainer.