Diabetes prevention

Could switching to whole-fat yogurt protect us from diabetes?

whole-fat-yogurt diabetes

Switching from other dairy types to whole-fat yogurt may play a role in preventing diabetes, research has suggested.

Modifying diet is key in the prevention of type 2 diabetes, as confirmed in large-scale trials of lifestyle change. Most dietary guidelines recommend low-fat dairy products for adults However, recent research has cast doubt over the assumption that whole-fat dairy products increase the risk of type 2 diabetes; indeed, one recent large-scale study has suggested the opposite is true.

In this large-scale cohort study, the authors looked into the effects of swapping between the types of dairy products we eat, without changing our overall energy intake. They discovered that whole-fat yogurt, eaten in place of full- or low-fat milk or even low-fat yogurt, is linked with a reduced rate of type 2 diabetes.

Comparing dairy product types

In the study, participants with a higher intake of one dairy product type and a lower intake of another type were compared with those who had the opposite intakes. This allowed the authors to assess the effects of substituting between dairy types without changing overall energy intake.

The authors used data from 54,277 people who entered the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health cohort at age 50-64 years. They were asked to complete a food frequency questionnaire about the dairy products they consumed.

The participants were followed up for a median of 15.3 years. During this time the authors identified 7,137 cases of type 2 diabetes among the participants via the Danish National Diabetes Register.

Whole-fat yogurt in place of other dairy products was linked to lower rate of diabetes

Analysis of the results showed that when whole-fat yogurt products were replaced with low-fat yogurt products, there was a higher rate of type 2 diabetes per daily serving substituted.

In addition, whole-fat yogurt products eaten in place of low- or whole-fat milk or buttermilk were associated with a lower rate of type 2 diabetes.

Substituting low-fat milk in place of whole-fat milk or buttermilk was not linked to the rate of type 2 diabetes; nor was a link seen with type 2 diabetes when cheese replaced other dairy types.

Why might whole-fat yogurt be better than low-fat yogurt?

Yogurt may hold advantages over milk because fermented dairy products contain probiotic bacteria and bioactive compounds that promote a healthy gut microbiome. An imbalance of the gut microbiome has been associated with insulin resistance, a key characteristic leading to type 2 diabetes.

When considering why whole-fat yogurt, rather than low-fat yogurt, was associated with a lower rate of diabetes than other dairy types, the authors point to studies suggesting that higher concentrations of dairy fats in the circulation are associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. However, further studies are needed to see whether whole-fat fermented dairy products can indeed reduce the risk of diabetes.

Find out more: read the original article.

Source: Ibsen DB, et al. Substitutions between dairy product subgroups and risk of type 2 diabetes: the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health cohort. Br J Nutr. (2017);118(11):989-997.