Diabetes and Dairy Study: Should Dairy-Free be a Concern?


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.

Dairy-Free Benefits

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.


About Author

Alisa is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

1 Comment

  1. Excessive weight is only one possible factor is developing diabetes. And truth is, it has not be proven which is the effect and which is the cause, only that they often seem to occur in the same individuals. Too bad the medicalese jumped to conclusions because there are obviously other factors at work for developing T2 diabetes. In fact, other than refraining from abusing our bodies with nutritionless junk food over eating, there may be nothing we can DO to actually “reduce our chances” of developing T2 — from my observations, either we are inclined or we are not (I’ve seen plenty of obese people without T2). To further confuse matters, the mainstream medicalese still erroneously believe too much fat in the diet is a major culprit and they couldn’t be further from the truth. Fat in and of itself does NOT cause obesity any more than carbs or protein unless one eats too much anyway. Not matter what the bulk of the diet, it must be in moderation according to one’s needs for essential nutrients and reactions to foods.

    In my case, my glucose levels went over the top 10 years ago. I immediately started a very low-carb-high-fat diet which includes plenty of meat, yes even “red meat”, and my glucose levels plummeted. I’ve never taken one pill or other supplement in this whole time. I am NOT “borderline/pre” diabetic. I am full-blown — ten years ago I was getting over 300 on my meter and never below 150 first thing in the morning (it should be 70 to 85 in the morning and never, never above 120 at any time). I eat tons of low-carb veggies (even grow my own organic) and stay away from ALL grains entirely. I eat homemade 100% flax breads, cakes, cookies and anything else that would normally be made with flours or grains. I sweeten with Splenda. I eat organic (preferably grass-fed) dairy products that have little natural sugar like cream cheese, sour cream, cheeses of all sorts (of course, I am not dairy intolerant).

    It is important to me to let you know that though I respect everyone’s choices in what they follow as a healthy diet, no one truly knows what will help prevent diabetes. And it should not be assumed that a vegan diet will contribute to this. But, once it appears, diabetes can be managed naturally by removing as much high-carb, natural or otherwise, from the diet and getting the essential nutrients for good health which I believe can be easily achieved on a low-carb-high-fat-moderate-protein (animal) diet. But… to each his own. Thank heaven we can all decide for ourselves.

Leave A Reply