There are plenty of reasons why you may want to make sure that your regular diet includes the proper amount of dairy. According to Vasanti Malik, a nutrition research scientist with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, “Dairy isn’t necessary in the diet for optimal health, but for many people, it is the easiest way to get the calcium, vitamin D, and protein they need to keep their heart, muscles, and bones healthy and functioning properly.”
On top of that, it turns out that certain dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, and low-fat dairy, might also help to prevent diabetes.
In a study that was published in Diabetes Care, a group that included Dr. Annalisa Giosuè, of the Department of Clinical Medicine and Surgery, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy, carried out a large review of data that focused on possible associations between diabetes and animal-based foods such as various kinds of meat, fish, dairy, and eggs.
“The study analyzed a large amount of data, so I would consider the findings relatively conclusive,” DJ Mazzoni, RD, MS, CSCS, CDN, Medical Reviewer at Illuminate Health, tells Eat This, Not That! “Low-fat dairy items like yogurt contain beneficial probiotics which can optimize gut function. This has many downstream effects, one of which may be improved insulin function.”
Beyond that, Mazzoni explains that “dairy and yogurt are also high in protein, which helps blunt blood sugar spikes after a meal.” Providing an example, Mazzoni says that “someone eating bread alone will have a higher post-meal blood sugar level than someone eating bread and yogurt.”
When it comes to how much dairy you might need to consume on a regular basis in order to see the benefits, Mazzoni points out that “the study suggests that 200 grams of milk per day or 100 grams of yogurt per day were associated with the largest risk reductions of developing type 2 diabetes.” That would be “slightly less than one cup of milk, and around 60% of a standard container of yogurt.“