Whey Protein Lowers Glucose in Diabetics

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Linked to reduction in glucose levels, improved early insulin response, GLP-1 levels.
Linked to reduction in glucose levels, improved early insulin response, GLP-1 levels.

For patients with well-controlled type 2 diabetes, consumption of whey protein pre-load before a high-glycemic index breakfast correlates with a reduction in glucose levels, higher insulin responses, and higher glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) levels, according to a study published online in Diabetologia.

Daniela Jakubowicz, M.D., from Tel Aviv University in Israel, and colleagues examined whether enhancing GLP-1 secretion with whey protein pre-load would be beneficial in type 2 diabetes. Fifteen individuals with well-controlled type 2 diabetes, who were not taking medications except sulfonylurea or metformin, were randomized to receive 50 g whey in 250 ml water or placebo followed by a standardized high-glycemic index breakfast. Following meal ingestion, the authors assessed plasma concentration of glucose, intact GLP-1, and insulin concentrations.

The researchers found that glucose levels were reduced by 28 percent after whey pre-load over the 180-minute post-meal period, with a uniform reduction during early and late phases. With whey pre-load, insulin and C-peptide responses were significantly higher (105 and 43 percent, respectively), with a 96 percent increase in early insulin response.

Whey pre-load correlated with significantly higher total and intact GLP-1 levels (141 and 298 percent, respectively). There was no significant between-group difference observed in dipeptidyl peptidase 4 plasma activity after breakfast.

"Whey protein may therefore represent a novel approach for enhancing glucose-lowering strategies in type 2 diabetes," the authors write.

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