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'To Milk of Not to Milk' : The Overweight, Obese and The Diabetic

Dr Isra Halim
Dr Isra Halim
Last year, I found myself poorer than I'd expected to be. Fancy was believable. Social media 'educators' with an uncanny ability to convince me the villain milk was. Milking almonds, oats, soy, oats was all over the place. Anything but cows! In the past year, I've experimented with soy milk latte's, coconut milk coffees, almond milk cappuccino, oat milk frappe's! A cup of regular desi, milk-in-place coffee would come with skepticism and doubt. Honest to God, Desi coffee remained my favorite. 

Luckily for me, the research on plant based 'milk' and the effects of real milk started being published sooner than the fad would drive me to bankruptcy! I don't know how long I'd have lasted buying  Rs 230 worth of almond milk over Rs 40 cow milk. 

A comprehensive review by Thorning et al. studied numerous meta-analysis and observational studies done over huge populations. Was milk better or worse for human health? Was there evidence enough for restricting dairy in the non lactose intolerant general population? Did milk play it's part in contributing to the obesity epidemic? 

Here is what the research reveals:

✔️ Evidence from childhood and adolescent studies reveal no association between dairy intake and obesity

✔️ Children in the high dairy intake group were 38% less likely to develop into overweight or obese adults

✔️ Studies on calorie restricted diets in adults including dairy in their diets report weight loss and improved body composition (NOT because of milk alone, but cumulative factors like overall calorie restriction, macronutrient profile and training). 
To the hundreds asking if they could include milk in their diet, the research says yes of course. Dairy contains high quality protein with essential amino acids useful for optimal muscle protein synthesis.

✔️ The most recent and probably one of the largest studies including over 5 lakh people, with nearly half a lakh diabetics assess the response of dairy in diabetics. This is also my favourite part of the study. Read on!
▪️ Dairy intake, in general has a slightly beneficial effect on diabetics ! 
▪️Yogurt, infact is inversely associated with the diabetes risk. 
▪️Cheese, similarly, may decrease your chances of developing diabetes.
Both yogurt and cheese are postulated to do so by positive changes in the gut microbiota ( more on that later)

AND, one of my favorites!! The 'W' word! 

▪️WHEY in the diabetic world... Whey in Type 2 Diabetes has been shown to significantly decrease the post prandial plasma glucose. Whey protein (dairy in general) improves the insulin response by the secretion of a beneficial glucose dependent insulinotropic peptide (GIP). 
▪️In layman's terms, whey could actually decrease your blood sugar levels! 

For those who need further reading on such, I've attached some links I found useful. More convincing than manicured celebrities milking nuts 😄. 

#desicoffeerocks 

Rideout TC, Marinangeli CP, Martin H, Browne RW, Rempel CB. Consumption of low-fat dairy foods for 6 months improves insulin resistance without adversely affecting lipids or bodyweight in healthy adults: a randomized free-living cross-over study. Nutr J. 2013
Nilsson M, Stenberg M, Frid AH, Holst JJ, Bjorck IM. Glycemia and insulinemia in healthy subjects after lactose-equivalent meals of milk and other food proteins: the role of plasma amino acids and incretins. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004;80(5)
Frid AH, Nilsson M, Holst JJ, Bjorck IM. Effect of whey on blood glucose and insulin responses to composite breakfast and lunch meals in type 2 diabetic subjects. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005