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A ‘Whey’ to Manage Diabetes

How Whey Protein May Support Diabetes

“A whey protein drink can control erratic glucose levels associated with type 2 diabetes,” say Tel Aviv University researchers.

Type 2 diabetes is a rising concern in America and across the globe, particularly as over-processed, high carbohydrate, high sugar and low nutrient foods are ravaging the health of people in developed Whey Proteincountries. While the best recourse would be to try to prevent the disease from ever taking hold in the first place, for those who are suffering with the disease, research is being conducted to find effective ways for patients to manage their glucose levels and help them live healthier lives.

For 29 million Americans, glucose spikes that can come after a meal or uncontrolled blood sugar surges can be deadly and are linked to a host of other life threatening problems such as kidney failure and cardiovascular disease. However, a new study from Tel Aviv University was recently published in Diabetologia that has shown the effectiveness in consuming whey protein concentrate before breakfast prevents these harmful post-meal glucose surges.

Scientists involved in the study have even reported that “the consumption of whey protein before meals may even keep diabetics’ need for insulin treatment at bay.” These scientists include: TAU’s Prof. Daniela Jakubowicz and Dr. Julio Wainstein of the Wolfson Medical Center’s Diabetes Unit, Prof. Oren Froy of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Prof. Bo Ahrn of Lund University in Sweden.

According to Prof. Jakubowicz, “What’s remarkable is that consuming whey protein before meals reduces the blood sugar spikes seen after meals. It also improves the body’s insulin response, putting it in the same range or even higher than that produced by novel anti-diabetic drugs.” Jakubowicz continued saying: “High milk intake has long been associated with lower risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and milk whey protein increases the production of a gut hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) that stimulates insulin secretion. This, in turn, reduces the blood glucose rise after meals.”

“We hypothesized that stimulating GLP-1 production by consuming whey protein before a meal would enhance insulin secretion and have beneficial glucose-lowering effects in type 2 diabetes,” Prof. Jakubowicz said.

A total of 15 individuals with well-controlled type 2 diabetes participated in the study at Wolfson Medical Center. With randomized tests, the participants received either the whey solution or a placebo. This was followed by a breakfast that included three slices of white bread with sugary jelly. This meal was specifically created to produce a very high glucose spike.

A 28 percent reduction in glucose levels was reported among participants who had taken the whey protein drink along with producing a 96 percent increase in early insulin response.

“The early insulin response that usually is deficient in type-2 diabetes was significantly higher after whey protein than with placebo, and the whey protein preload significantly reduced the elevation of blood glucose after breakfast,” said Prof. Jakubowicz. “Whey protein could therefore represent a novel approach for enhancing glucose-lowering strategies in type 2 diabetes.”


These positive indicators recorded in the study are encouraging, and the researchers are looking towards developing a long-term clinical trial to test the potential lasting benefits of including whey protein in a diabetic diet to help reduce the dangerous effects of diabetes.

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