Whole Milk and Diabetes
Whole milk has a rich, creamy taste that everyone loves. It’s also high in nutrients that are essential for a well-balanced diet. However, is it safe to drink whole milk if you have diabetes?
We provide answers to this by exploring the relationship between whole milk and diabetes. While it poses a few health risks, its benefits might outweigh the presumed risks, as we’ll observe in a bit.
- Protein 3.35 g
- Carbohydrate 4.91 g
- Fat 1.9 g
- Fiber 0 g
- Sugar 4.89 g
- Cholesterol 8 g
Nutritional Value of Whole Milk
Before we go into the details of whole milk’s consumption, let’s start by briefly looking through its constituents. Simply put, whole milk is cow's milk that hasn't had its fat content eliminated. The fat content of the milk sits at 3.5%, accounting for its slightly thick nature.
Despite this, it contains some essential nutrients. According to the USDA, one cup of whole milk contains 149 calories, making it ideal for weight loss. It also offers 7.7 g of protein, 276 mg of calcium, and 11.7 g of total carbohydrates.
Although it contains zero fiber, whole milk has a low glycemic index (GI) of 31 and a low glycemic load (GL) of 4 per cup, meaning its sugar content is slowly absorbed into the bloodstream.
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Why You Should Consume Whole Milk as a Diabetic
Whole milk is excellent for many conditions associated with diabetes, and we will see how in a bit.
Aids Weight Loss
According to a twelve-week study, women who consume milk daily have a higher chance of losing weight than those that do not. Generally, a glass of milk can serve as a substantial appetizer and doubles as a decent weight loss aid.
Stress can make it more challenging to manage your diabetes since it can disrupt your daily routine and cause physical wear and tear. Milk can act as a stress reliever due to the numerous vitamins and minerals it contains. Drinking just a glass of whole milk after a long day at the office can aid muscle relaxation and nerve calmness.
People with diabetes often experience fatigue, making it difficult to muster the enthusiasm and stamina to stay physically active. Thankfully, whole milk can boost your energy levels. When you're having a tough day and need a boost, a chilled glass of milk might be your best bet for instant rejuvenation.
Helps Control Blood Pressure
Over time, research has shown milk to be beneficial in preventing many diseases. This ranges across its ability to potentiate excessive blood pressure reduction and diminished stroke risk — potential diabetes risk factors and complications.
Reduces the Risk of Obesity
Obesity increases your risk of developing diabetes and makes it more difficult to control your blood sugar levels. By simply adding anything from chocolate powder and fruits to whole milk, you can satisfy your diverse cravings while preventing excessive weight gain. Just don't add too much sugar, and you've got yourself one of the healthiest drinks on the planet.
Research on Whole Milk and Diabetes
There have been several conflicting research about the impact of whole milk in lowering blood glucose levels. Overall, the metabolic effects of dairy meals are difficult to decipher. While whole milk has natural sugars, it also contains fat and protein, which help glucose enter the bloodstream slowly and steadily. Also, its carb exists in the form of lactose, which, unlike refined sugars, do not cause a sudden spike in blood sugar levels.
Furthermore, research suggests dairy to be an insulin secretagogue, which simply implies that it stimulates the pancreas to secrete more insulin than we'd expect based on its associated GI. For example, in a study covering 13 type 2 diabetics, consuming milk accounts for a five-fold increase in insulin response compared to the anticipated result (drawing from the food’s carb content).
While this extra insulin can reduce postprandial blood sugar spikes, it also has some deleterious effects, such as a heightened risk for insulin resistance, especially in the long term. Moreover, although the high-fat content of whole milk might temporarily overshadow its expected sugar effect, in the long run, all that sugar still gets absorbed in the body.
A seven-day study of 272 middle-aged non-diabetic women validates this hypothesis as it records a link between increased insulin resistance and dairy consumption. Despite mitigating factors like body weight, age, body fat, energy intake, among others, this link persists.
Should You Take Whole Milk?
Whole milk and diabetes may not be the perfect match — a high-fat diet increases the risk of heart disease, a significant risk factor for people with diabetes. However, you can reduce this risk by controlling your dietary fat intake.
Overall, you want to aim for a reduced intake of bad fats while increasing the consumption of healthy fats — helpful in managing diabetes. Moreover, testing your blood glucose levels before and 30 minutes after drinking milk is the best technique to determine how much milk you can safely consume. Additionally, you can seek advice from a doctor or dietician before consuming milk.
Including dairy products like whole milk in your diet is an easy way to get calcium and high-quality protein. While whole milk might pose certain risks to your diabetic health (due to its relatively high-fat content), you can opt for healthier options like low-fat milk. Daily consumption of two to three servings of low-fat milk is optimal as recommended by the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
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