Diabetes type 2 is an all too common affliction: From the data at the Center For Disease Control , we estimate that approximately 2 million Americans have diabetes type 2 , and the numbers are growing. Drugs like Metformin, or supplementing the body’s natural insulin production by insulin injection are the usual treatments.
However, exercise and diet can help ward off and control the disease. This post will discuss the merits of dairy foods in that regard:
Several studies have shows dairy product helping the fight against Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). [2-4]
Their conclusions are similar:
“…results suggest a inverse association of intake of dairy products, such as low-fat dairy, cheese and yogurt and T2DM…” . Inverse association, eating dairy products will likely help.
However, most of these studies are epidemiological: They perform statistical analysis on groups of patients (Cohorts). So the benefits are inferred by association, not by knowledge of how would dairy products help. So the accuracy of the predictions will depend on the design of the statistical analysis. Large grpoups of patients are better, and indeed, the groups of patients studied large in the tens of thousands or better.. That is a substantial size, the weak point seems to be in the make up of those groups. For example, quoting :
“…Finally, because all the studies were conducted primarily among middle-aged and older people, these results might not be generalizable to dairy intake in earlier life periods, which might have similar or different effects…”
Dairy is a word that encompasses many product very different one another: milk, of course, then cheeses and yogurts, etc. Study  focused on the type of dairy, low fat/regular milk, cheeses , and yogurts. Study  focused on the calcium and magnesium content of dairy products.
There could be many other active ingredients in dairy products .
Cheeses:This milk product is actually quite complex, as the thousands of different cheeses produced can attest.
The initial curdling process (starter) .can be the result of acidification by bacteria such as Lactococci, Lactobacilli, Streptococci, Propionibacter shermani. This is followed by cheese “ripening” which can involve molds and additional bacteria. The resulting is a complex food made of complex mix of amino acids, amines, and fatty acids.
The main difference between yogurt and cheese is that yogurt is not allowed to curdle. Yogurt is produced using a culture of Lactobacillus delbrueckii, subsp. bulgaricus, and Streptococcus thermophilus and bifidobacteria. Yogurts nutritional values is in protein, calcium, riboflavin, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12
Milk : All animal milks contains in various proportion protein, fat, carbohydrates, cholesterol, calcium, energy (calories)
So, what do all these dairy product have in common that fights T2DM?
- Study  focused on Calcium and Vitamin D.
- Study  on the type, quantities and frequencies of the various dairy products
Only low fat milk is beneficial, however, cheeses, who are notoriously fat, do not have that requirement . That paradox has not yet been resolved.
However study  showed that Probiotics , or beneficial bacteria in the gut can play a role in fighting off T2DM. Quoting them:
“…Probiotics particularly lactobacilli and bifidobacteria have recently emerged as the prospective biotherapeutics with proven efficacy demonstrated in various in vitro and in vivo animal models adequately supported with their established multifunctional roles and mechanism of action for the prevention and disease treatment…”
Even better, study  appears to have been done on humans. So are the cheese and yogurts probiotics the source of the beneficial effects?
Then, study  links a form of dietary iron called Heme to the development of T2DM. However, the Iron entry at the Linus Pauling site  discusses Calcium as binding the Heme iron, as does a study in the American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition . Since plain milk, is not particularly rich in probiotics, and still fight T2DM, it is quite conceivable that Calcium or even Magnesium would account for the positive effect, even though study  seemed to exclude this.
Then again, study , says that Vitamin K2 has been shown to fight T2DM, and bacteria are involved in the production of vitamin K2
“…Vitamin K2 is exclusively synthesized by bacteria and is therefore only present in fermented dairy products such as cheese and yogurt due to the bacterial starter fermentation . Vitamin K2 has recently been linked to a reduced risk of T2DM …”
So, the jury is still out as what are the beneficial factors responsible for the lowering the incidence of Diabetes Type 2. Nevertheless the statistical linkage seems in favor of dairy products.
- CDC ; Diabetes Facts Sheet, 2011
- Nutricion Hospitalaria ; “DAIRY PRODUCTS CONSUMPTION VERSUS TYPE 2 DIABETES PREVENTION AND TREATMENT; A REVIEW OF RECENT FINDINGS FROM HUMAN STUDIES.” ; Oct 2013
- PLoSOne ; “Dairy products consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis.” Sept 2013
- Wikipedia on cheeses and yogurts
- Diabetes Metabolism Research Review : ” Probiotics as potential biotherapeutics in the management of type 2 diabetes – prospects and perspectives.”; Feb 2013
- Gut Microbes ; ” Involvement of gut microbiota in the development of low-grade inflammation and type 2 diabetes associated with obesity. July 2012
- BMC Medicine ; “Dietary iron intake, body iron stores, and the risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” ; Oct 2012
- Linus Pauling Institute ; Iron
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition ; “”Calcium: effect of different amounts on nonheme- and heme-iron absorption in humans”; 1991