Drinking Milk Can Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Diabetes is a metabolic disease in which the body does not produce enough insulin, or cells to not respond to insulin that is produced. Type 2 diabetes refers to the condition in which the cells do not respond to insulin, sometimes known as adult-onset diabetes. A new study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found that milk-drinking teenagers often become milk-drinking adults. As a lifelong habit, drinking milk is associated with a 43 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes compared to non-milk drinkers.
The study was conducted by Harvard University researchers conducted two sets of experiments to correlate food intake patterns with various health risks. The first experiment involved 37,000 women, and the second involved over 440,000 adults of both gender.
The first study showed that women who drank the most milk and consumed the most milk products as teenagers had a lower risk of type 2 diabetes than those with low dairy intake. The high-intake adults consumed about 4 servings per day, and the low-intake adults only had 1 per day. This study found that the milk-drinking teens consistently drank milk into and through adulthood, gaining less weight over time (about 4 pounds less on average).
The second study, which was much larger, bolstered the health benefits of milk as a reliable protein source. This study concluded that swapping low-fat dairy for meat as a protein source could lower the risk of type 2 diabetes by 17%.
Humans are the only animals on Earth to consume milk beyond their infant years, and the only to consume that of other species. Humans drink milk from a variety of animals like goats, buffalo, sheep, and yak. By far, the greatest source of milk are from cows, particularly Holstein breeds. Other dairy cows include Ayrshire, Brown, Swiss, Guernsey, and Jersey.
For non-infants, cow milk actually has a higher nutritional value than human milk. Cow milk contains 3.4% protein compared to 1.1% protein for humans. It contains only 3.6% fat compared to 4.2% fat in humans. Cow milk is rich in many other vitamins such as B1, B2, B12, D, Calcium, Potassium, and many others.
Cow milk also contains less lactose, a type of sugar which must be digested in the small intestine by the enzyme lactase. In the USA, those with European ancestry, who have a long history of drinking milk, typically have no problem digesting it. However, other peoples from around the world, with little or no history of drinking milk, are more lactose intolerant. This includes an estimated 75% of Native Americans, 75% African Americans, and 90% Asian Americans. Lactose intolerance cannot be prevented or reversed. Nonetheless, people who are able to and choose to drink milk, than they should do it for of its health benefits, particularly in warding off obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Link to published studies: http://www.ajcn.org/content/94/3/854.abstract