Dairy Proteins May Have a Role in Managing T2D

  • Article
  • 2 min read September 10, 2015

As health and wellness professionals, you know that diet is one of the cornerstones for diabetes management. For people with Type 2 diabetes (T2D), the food they eat can help manage blood glucose and insulin levels and minimize some of the devastating complications of this disease when poorly controlled.

I have been paying close attention to the research showing how dairy foods may help those at risk for Type 2 diabetes. Now a recent review discusses clinical evidence showing the value of dairy proteins (i.e., casein and whey) found in milk, yogurt or cheese or consumed as supplements for helping to manage the blood glucose and insulin responses in adults with T2D.

Here are some highlights from the review:

Dairy foods, like milk, cheese and yogurt, have been linked in dietary guidelines to a reduced risk of T2D in adults.

Clinical evidence regarding both dairy foods and individual dairy proteins have shown promise for improving insulin secretion in individuals with T2D. This is important, because people with T2D may not make enough insulin or use it effectively to keep blood sugar within the normal range.

Whey protein, in particular, tends to increase blood sugar less often and stimulate insulin secretion more often than all other common protein-rich foods or supplements. Foods that can help to control both the amount of glucose that appears in the blood and the efficiency with which it can be moved into cells for energy are valuable for diabetes management.

So how exactly do dairy foods beneficially influence insulin and blood sugar levels.

According to the paper, dairy’s benefits may be due to their unique nutrient and amino acid profile as well as the end-products of fermentation found in cultured dairy foods such as cheese and yogurt. Whey protein has additional properties that likely convey these benefits, including an amino acid profile rich in essential and branched chain amino acids; its fast digestion and absorption rate; and a relatively concentrated bioactive peptide profile.

I think you will agree that identifying relatively inexpensive and simple dietary modifications, such as incorporating fat-free and low-fat dairy foods or dairy protein supplements into the eating plans of people with T2D may have considerable value. Please follow me @drdairy50 and here for continued research updates, educational tools and discussion.