Type 2 diabetes sufferers can control their blood sugar by drinking small amounts of whey protein prior to meals.
The findings of the research were published in the journal ‘BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care’
Newcastle University conducted a study that could help with the management of type 2 diabetes. It involved people who drank pre-made shots before eating. The shot contained low amounts of whey protein. The participants were observed for one week while they lived a normal life.
To measure the differences in the benefits of whey proteins, participants also drank a control shot with no protein for a week.
Continuous glucose monitoring showed that glucose levels are better controlled when the whey protein supplement is taken before meals. They had an average of two hours more per day of normal blood sugar levels than those who took the supplement without any protein. They also had 0.6 mmol/L less blood sugar than when they took the supplement with no protein.
Dr. Daniel West, Senior Lecturer, and Principal Investigator at Newcastle University, UK, said that while previous studies only lasted a few hours, the human body is now being monitored as it goes about its normal activities.
“We believe that whey protein has two main functions. It slows down the rate at which food passes through the digestive tract and stimulates a variety of hormones that keep blood sugars from rising too high.
“As more people develop diabetes around the globe, it is becoming increasingly important to investigate the potential for food supplements and other drugs as an alternative.”
18 people with type-2 diabetes had a small drink with 15g protein in it – a 100ml shot – and consumed it just before breakfast, lunch, dinner and on the seventh day. All patients remained on their prescribed diabetes medications. Continuous glucose monitoring continuously tracked blood glucose levels throughout the week.
Kieran Smith from Newcastle University, a PhD student in glucose monitoring, analysed the data and oversaw the process. “People were able stick to the regimen and liked the idea that they could have a convenient, tasty and small pre-made beverage that they could carry with them and take before meals.
The team plans to continue exploring the benefits of non-medical interventions and will run the study for up to six more months. To make it more accessible to vegans and religious diets, they plan to explore alternative protein sources, including those from plants like potatoes, fungi, and peas.