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Consuming milk at breakfast lowers blood glucose throughout day

Effects of protein composition and concentration detailed in new study reported in Journal of Dairy Science.

A change in one's breakfast routine may provide benefits for the management of type 2 diabetes, according to a new study published in the Journal of Dairy Science. Dr. H. Douglas Goff and the team of scientists from the Human Nutraceutical Research Unit at the University of Guelph, in collaboration with the University of Toronto, examined the effects of consuming high-protein milk at breakfast on blood glucose levels and satiety after breakfast and after a second meal.

They found that milk consumed with breakfast cereal reduced the postprandial blood glucose concentration compared with water, and a high dairy protein concentration reduced the postprandial blood glucose concentration compared with a normal dairy protein concentration. The high-protein treatment also reduced appetite after the second meal compared with the low-protein equivalent.

“Metabolic diseases are on the rise globally, with type 2 diabetes and obesity as leading concerns in human health,” Goff and the research team said. “Thus, there is impetus to develop dietary strategies for the risk reduction and management of obesity and diabetes to empower consumers to improve their personal health.”

In this randomized, controlled, double-blinded study, the team examined the effects of increasing the protein concentration and increasing the proportion of whey protein in milk consumed with a high-carbohydrate breakfast cereal on blood glucose, feelings of satiety and food consumption later in the day. Digestion of the whey and casein proteins naturally present in milk releases gastric hormones that slow digestion, hence increasing feelings of fullness. Digestion of whey proteins achieves this effect more quickly, whereas casein proteins provide a longer-lasting effect.

Although the team found only a modest difference in food consumption at the lunch meal when increasing whey protein at breakfast, they did find that milk consumed with a high-carbohydrate breakfast reduced blood glucose even after lunch, and high-protein milk had a greater effect. Milk with an increased proportion of whey protein had a modest effect on pre-lunch blood glucose, achieving a greater decrease than that provided by regular milk.

According to Goff and his colleagues, “This study confirms the importance of milk at breakfast time to aid in the slower digestion of carbohydrate and to help maintain lower blood sugar levels. Nutritionists have always stressed the importance of a healthy breakfast, and this study should encourage consumers to include milk.”

The study is available online at https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.2018-14419.

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