Whey Cool: A Glucose-reducing Solution for Type 2 Diabetes

Israeli-Swedish research team finds that drinking whey before breakfast can improve insulin responses after the meal.

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WHEY WHAT YOU EAT: Han Seung-youn, 36, eating "ramyeon" instant noodle in Seoul, South Korea, Aug. 19, 2014. Instant noodles are associated with diabetes risks, perhaps whey can help. Credit: AP

When Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet eating her curds and whey, she had no idea that she may have been helping to control her type 2 diabetes, recent research by an Israeli-Swedish team of scientists suggests.

The team, made up of researchers from Tel Aviv University's Sacker Faculty of Medicine, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Lund University found that imbibing a whey drink before breakfast reduces glucose levels, an important strategy in managing type 2 diabetes.

"One of the earliest changes in the development of type 2 diabetes is the loss of early postprandial insulin response, a change which contributes to postprandial hyperglycemia," the authors wrote, referring to the tendency for insulin levels to spike after a meal, in the latest issue of Diabetologia. "Therefore, targeting the early postprandial insulin response is an important glucose-lowering strategy in treating type 2 diabetes."

The researchers took a randomized group of 15 individuals with well-controlled type 2 diabetes taking few if any medications. They used a coin toss to determine who received 50 grams of whey inside a 250 ml glass of water and who received a placebo. The participants than ate a standardized high-glycemic-index breakfast in a hospital setting, the researchers reported. The test was conducted on two separate days.

The scientists found that glucose levels were reduced 28% over the three-hour period following the meal when participants drank the whey solution in advance.
Moreover, the pre-meal concoctions led to significantly higher insulin and C-peptide responses.

The positive results led the scientists to conclude: "Whey protein may therefore represent a novel approach for enhancing glucose-reducing strategies in type 2 diabetes."

The clinical trial was funded by the Israeli Health Ministry and Milk Council.