Lovers of yogurt will be happy to know that their daily habit of having a pot of yogurt is actually helping their body ward off type 2 diabetes. This fact may also invite non-eaters of yogurt to begin forming the habit themselves.
A new study from Cambridge University, which aimed to "investigate the association between total and types of dairy product intake and risk of developing incident type 2 diabetes, using a food diary," tracked the health and diets of 30,000 people in Norfolk, England, over a period of 11 years. Over that span of time, only 753 participants developed type 2 diabetes.
The study was published in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes. The study explained that the greatest gain was experienced by those who consumed only about 560 grams (or about 4.5 pots) of yogurt a week. Their consumption of yogurt lowered their risk of type 2 diabetes by 28 percent.
The researchers recorded the dietary habits of all the participants in advance, to set the basis for determining whether they were at risk of contracting type 2 diabetes. After the 11-year period, the researchers revealed that there was indeed a measurable connection between yogurt intake and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The researchers also found that the largest form of dairy intake were milk, cheese and yogurt. These products, and other low-fat fermented food such as fromage frias and certain types of cheese, reduced chances of contracting type 2 diabetes by about 24 percent. Furthermore, they found that the risk of diabetes is reduced by as much as 47 percent when a serving of chips is replaced by a serving of yogurt. This is logical, since people who eat yogurt habitually also tend to choose more healthy desserts and snacks over unhealthy ones.
"Greater low-fat fermented dairy product intake, largely driven by yoghurt intake, was associated with a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes," said the study. "These findings suggest that the consumption of specific dairy types may be beneficial for the prevention of diabetes and have implications, including the importance of considering food group subtypes, for public health messages."
Diabetes is a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal because the body cannot process enough glucose to be converted into energy. Obesity and lack of physical activity, combined with an unhealthy diet that is high on sugar, contribute to the risks of developing the condition. Type 1 diabetes is characterized by the body's lifelong inability to produce insulin. Type 2 diabetes tends to be acquired later on in life because of unhealthy habits, diet, and lifestyle, which causes bodies to become resistant to the insulin they produce.
In the United States, 26 million people have diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that if the public does not change its eating and health habits, by the year 2050, one in every three adults will have diabetes.
The International Diabetes Federation states that worldwide there are about 382 million people with the condition and one person dies every six seconds because of diabetes.