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Feb 20, 2014

Yogurt Could Reduce Diabetes Risk

Low-fat yogurt consumption may reduce risk for type 2 diabetes by 28%, according to recent study.

What’s the ideal diet for preventing diabetes? One with plenty of yogurt and low-fat dairy products, according to a recent study published in the medical journal, Diabetologia.

This study included 4,000 adults from the United Kingdom who were part of the EPIC-Norfolk study, designed to analyze the relationship between diet and chronic diseases. At the start of the study, participants completed a week-long food diary to document all food and beverages consumed throughout the week. Using these diaries, researchers were able to analyze the amount and type of dairy products that participants consumed on a regular basis.

For analysis purposes, researchers categorized dairy items as “low-fat” (<3.9% fat) and “high-fat” (>3.9% fat) to compare at the end of the study. Why? Although past studies have suggested that dairy consumption may reduce risk for diabetes, none of the studies took into account differences in the fat content of dairy products. Researchers thought it might be possible that the association between dairy intake and diabetes risk depends on the type of dairy product consumed, and they were right.

Researchers followed participants for a total of 11 years and during that time, 892 of the 4,000 individuals were diagnosed with diabetes. When comparing dairy consumption with diabetes risk, individuals who consumed the highest amount of low-fat dairy products had 24% lower risk compared to those consuming no dairy products. And even more striking, those consuming the highest amount of low-fat yogurt (equal to 4.5 standard portions of low-fat yogurt per week) had 28% lower risk of developing diabetes compared to those who didn’t eat yogurt. Consumption of “high-fat” dairy products had no impact on diabetes risk in this study.

Based on these findings, researchers suggest that consumption of low-fat dairy products, especially yogurt, may help lower risk for type 2 diabetes. Although more research is needed to better understand the relationship between dairy consumption and diabetes risk, authors believe that dairy products may be an important weapon in the fight against diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes, accounting for 90-95% of the 25.8 million Americans with diabetes, and is largely preventable with simple lifestyle changes. And it’s possible that small changes in diet like eating yogurt could play a big role in the prevention of diabetes.

Questions for You to Consider

  • What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

  • Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body does not produce any insulin—a hormone that converts sugar into energy. This type of diabetes is often diagnosed in children and young adults and cannot be prevented. Type 2 diabetes, however, occurs when the body resists insulin or does not produce enough insulin, and can be prevented in some patients.
  • How can I prevent type 2 diabetes?

  • Although unknown exactly why some individuals develop type 2 diabetes and some don’t, there are some known risk factors for this condition, like being overweight and inactive. There are also risk factors that can’t be controlled, such as family history, age and race.

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