Can Eating Certain Foods Like Yogurt Reduce the Chance of Developing Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is one of the common metabolic disorders across the world. The number of people affected by diabetes is projected to reach an estimated 552 million worldwide by 2030 (Whiting et al. 311). Prevention and control of T2DM have therefore become a public health imperative. Although diet and lifestyle are believed to the increased prevalence of diabetes (particularly, T2DM), few dietary factors have been established as risk factors for T2DM. With their high nutrient content, dairy products are attractive choices for diabetes prevention. However, certain dairy products like cheese and cream are also associated with high-fat, which can potentially offset the benefits. An exhaustive understanding of the roles of dairy products in etiology of diabetes is important in the current situation.
Several human studies over the years have suggested that diet and lifestyle changes can influence prevention and treatment of T2DM (Eriksson and Lindgarde 891; Lindström et al. 3230). In recent years, there has been considerable interest in the role of dairy products in the etiology of T2DM. In 2014, a study led by Harvard School of Public Health researchers (Chen et al. 219) found in three long-running studies of over 100,000 participants that regular consumption of yogurt was associated with an 18% lower risk of T2DM. They, however, noticed no similar link between other dairy products (like milk and cheese) and diabetes. Another study by a team of scientist in the UK investigated the risk of diabetes associated with consumption of dairy products (O’Connor et al. 914). This EPIC-Norfolk study, which included more than 25,000 participants in Norfolk, UK found that consumption of yogurt reduced the risk of developing T2DM by 28% and that higher consumption of low-fat fermented dairy products (all yogurts and some cheese) also reduced the risk of diabetes by 24%.
While these and some other cohort and long-standing studies indicate a beneficial link between consumption of dairy products, particularly yogurt and probiotics, with a decreased risk of diabetes, none of the studies have been able to successfully prove the direct association with diabetes by elucidating the molecular mechanism of action of these dietary products (Parvez et al. 1171; Ejtahed et al. 539). Despite that, nutritional benefits of dairy products remain unquestionable due to its constituents such as vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium. Additionally, fermentation of dairy products inculcates them with probiotic bacteria and a unique type of vitamin K, which may be responsible for exerting beneficial effects against diabetes.
Chen, Sun, et al. “Dairy consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: 3 cohorts of US adults and an updated meta-analysis.” BMC Med 12 (2014): 215-31.
Ejtahed, Hanie S. et al. “Probiotic Yogurt Improves Antioxidant Status in Type 2 Diabetic Patients.” Nutrition 28.5 (2012): 539–543.
Eriksson, K. -F., and F. Lindgarde. “Prevention of Type 2 (Non-Insulin-Dependent) Diabetes Mellitus by Diet and Physical Exercise The 6-Year Malm – Feasibility Study.” Diabetologia 34.12 (1991): 891–898.
Lindström, Jaana et al. “The Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study (DPS).” Diabetes Care 26.12 (2003): 3230-6.
O’Connor, Laura M. et al. “Dietary Dairy Product Intake and Incident Type 2 Diabetes: A Prospective Study Using Dietary Data from a 7-Day Food Diary.” Diabetologia 57.5 (2014): 909–917.
Parvez, S. et al. “Probiotics and Their Fermented Food Products Are Beneficial for Health.” Journal of Applied Microbiology 100.6 (2006): 1171–1185.
Whiting, David R et al. “IDF Diabetes Atlas: Global Estimates of the Prevalence of Diabetes for 2011 and 2030.” Diabetes research and clinical practice 94.3 (2011): 311–21.
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