Study Finds Protein Supplements Could Help Diabetes

Protein shakes, powders, and protein pills are among some of the most popular supplements available and a new study finds these could potentially help people with diabetes.

People with diabetes have to manage their blood sugar levels, and it’s essential to keep levels within a target range to prevent or delay serious health complications that can come with the disease, including vision loss, heart problems, and kidney disease.

Protein Supplements Could Help Diabetes (2)

A new study shows the potential for the dietary management of diabetes. The study found that a small quantity of whey protein before meals can help regulate blood sugar levels. The study was done by the Human Nutrition Research Centre in conjunction with the Diabetes Research Group at Newcastle University in the UK.

In the study, participants with type 2 diabetes had a pre-made protein drink before meals containing a low dose of whey. The study participants were monitored for a week as they lived their daily lives. The same participants spent a week having a control shot with no protein, so the results could be compared.

Results from continued monitoring found glucose levels were far more controlled when participants in the study had whey protein supplements before their meals.

Specifically, 18 people with type 2 diabetes had a 100mL shot with 15 grams of protein 10 minutes before their daily meals. They stayed on their diabetes medicine throughout. When the participants consumed whey protein, they had more control over glucose levels, and on average, they had two additional hours a day of normal blood sugar levels compared to not taking the shot.

Dr. Daniel West, the principal researcher on the study, said that he believes whey protein works in two ways. First, it slows down how quickly food moves through the digestive system, and the second way it works is by stimulating hormones that prevent blood sugar levels from getting too high. The research team said that as we see people worldwide getting diabetes in growing numbers, it’s important to investigate alternatives to drugs, including food supplements.

Whey protein is found in dairy products and can be used as a supplement. Whey protein has essential amino acids, often used to improve athletic performance or addressing nutritional deficiencies.

Based on the new study’s results, whey protein can change gut function, slowing gastric emptying and stimulating the hormone secretion of incretin, which helps with high glycemia. Whey, since it is high in amino acids, can also stimulate beta cells to secrete insulin.

Consuming whey also suppresses appetite because of its effects on the hypothalamus and the gut-brain axis.

The new research was published in the BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care Journal.

While the study could have significant future implications and expand our understanding of diet, nutrition, and chronic diseases, there were limitations. First, there was a small group sample size. The second limitation was the study’s short timeframe; future researchers may take advantage of opportunities to expand both of these elements in a new study.

The team says they want to investigate other proteins, including ones that come from plant-based sources, to open up options to vegan people or have certain dietary restrictions.

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