Vitality

Eating Yogurt Reduces Type 2 Diabetes Risk, Perhaps Due To Probiotics' Effects

yogurt
A new study from Harvard finds eating yogurt could lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, though the same is not true of other dairy foods. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Yogurt provides calcium, vitamin D, protein, and, in some brands, probiotics. For many people, it adds to an overall healthy diet, while some even claim it will lenghten their lives. Now, a new study from Harvard finds eating yogurt could lower your risk of developing diabetes.

“Higher intake of yogurt is associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, whereas other dairy foods and consumption of total dairy did not show this association,” said Dr. Frank Hu, senior researcher and professor at Harvard School of Public Health, in a press statement.

More than 29 million people in the United States (and about 366 million people worldwide) have diabetes, while another 86 million adults — more than one in three American adults — have prediabetes. This is a diagnosis given to those with higher than normal blood sugar levels that are still beneath the threshold for diabetes. Among those who fail to lose weight and exercise, 15 to 30 percent of prediabetic people will go on to develop type 2 diabetes within five years.

To understand yogurt’s potential impact on diabetes, a team of researchers examined the results of three studies that followed the medical history and lifestyle habits of health professionals, including female nurses and male dentists, pharmacists, vets, osteopathic physicians, and podiatrists. Participants completed a questionnaire about lifestyle and chronic disease, and then were followed up every two years. Before examining all the data from these studies, the current set of researchers excluded participants who did not include information about their dairy consumption and those with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or cancer at the start of the survey.

Among those remaining, the researchers identified 15,156 cases of type 2 diabetes developing during the follow-up period. Crunching the numbers, they discovered total dairy consumption had no link to type 2 diabetes risk, so the researchers next looked at individual dairy products, including skim milk, cheese, and yogurt. They found a high consumption of yogurt went hand in hand with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Precisely, they found one 28g serving of yogurt per day was associated with an 18 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

“Since we did not specifically assess types or brands of yogurt consumed by the participants, it is difficult to attribute the observed benefits to various components of yogurt,” wrote the authors in the conclusion of their study. Based on their data, the authors suggest yogurt be incorporated into a healthy dietary pattern. Why not go homemade? There are plenty of online recipes — with some even tailored to those who favor using a crockpot.

Source: Chen M, Sun Q, Giovannucci E, et al. Dairy consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: 3 cohorts of US adults and an updated meta-analysis. BMC Medicine. 2014.

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