According to a recently released study out of UCLA, women may lower their risk for type-2 diabetes by increasing their intake of low fat dairy products. Should those who shun or limit dairy consumption be concerned? After all, the study was quite large and thorough. They followed over 37,000 women for 10 years, and adjusted for major risk factors such as weight, smoking status, and cholesterol level. They even separated out the possibility of calcium, Vitamin D, glycemic load, and fat as the true heroes.
Yet, contrary to the flashy headlines, the results were not as stellar as one might expect. According to the lead researcher, Dr. Simin Liu, “Each serving-per-day increase in dairy intake was associated with a 4-percent lower risk.”
Statistically speaking, 4 percent per serving is worth further research for the UCLA team, particularly to confirm their findings. However, it is still a mere drop in the bucket for diabetes prevention when compared to other lifestyle factors.
Several large research programs have shown a very strong correlation between weight gain and type-2 diabetes. In a follow-up study of nearly 1.5 million people, as reported by the Harvard School of Public Health, women who gained between 5 and 7.9 kg (11 to 17.4 pounds) over 14 years had a 90 percent increased risk for developing diabetes. Those who gained 8 to 10.9 kg (17.5 to 24 pounds) upped their risk by 270 percent. On the flip side, those women who lost more than 5 kg (11 pounds) over the 14-year period decreased their risk for developing type-2 diabetes by 50 percent.
Another prospective study from Harvard Medical School followed 87,253 US women (aged 34 to 59 years) for 8 years. At the onset of the study, the women were free of diagnosed diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. According to their results, women who engaged in vigorous exercise at least once per week were 33 percent less likely to develop diabetes than the women who did not exercise weekly.
Suddenly 4 percent doesn’t seem worth noting. With luck, Dr. Liu’s team will continue to uncover valuable tools for the fight against this autoimmune disease. In the mean time, vegans, lactose intolerant individuals, and other dairy free dieters are not being warned. A healthy well-balanced diet, regular exercise, and keeping weight in check are still the best-known weapons against type 2 diabetes.