Dairy products and Type II diabetes

Type II diabetes affects the lives of thousands of Greeks while scientific findings confirm its’ increasingly frequent manifestation in the Greek population. Although it is not always completely understood why some people do develop type II diabetes and some don’t, it is clear that certain factors increase that risk.

The most important factors affecting the risk of developing type II diabetes are:yogurt

  • Increased body weight.
  • Fat distribution in the body.
  • Reduced or null level of exercise.
  • Family history.
  • Race.
  • Age.
  • Prediabetic stage occurrence.
  • Gestational diabetes.
  • Polycystic ovaries.

Apart from the above dietary habits may also influence the risk of developing type II diabetes. Dairy products contain many nutritive ingredients like calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, and some fatty acids which is why it’s speculated that by consuming them that risk is reduced. On the other hand there is a probability those dairy products’ saturated fats may counterbalance their protective action.

Due to the above likely incongruous ramifications of dairy products, their association to the risk of type II diabetes development has attracted the interest of scientists. Indeed, Chen et al., in a recent meta-analysis, investigated anew the likely association between dairy and the risk of developing type II diabetes.

The findings show that increased consumption of yogurt is associated with reduced risk, whereas other dairy products as well as overall dairy consumption is not markedly associated with type II diabetes manifestation.

The possible mechanisms according to which yogurt consumption may reduce the risk of type II diabetes are various, like for example the improvement of cholesterol levels in the blood, the enhancement of the organism’s antioxidant status due to the probiotics contained in yogurt as well as the association between yogurt consumption and weight increase which are negatively related.

Concerning the findings on yogurt it looks like it may be recommended within the context of a balanced diet. Nevertheless, future randomized clinical trials could specify the causal relationship of yogurt consumption and risk of type II diabetes development with greater certainty as well as outline possible action mechanisms in more detail.

The National Nutritional Guide, which was recently published, recommends the consumption of two portions from a variety of dairy products daily for adults aged 18-65 years old and three portions for adults aged 65 or more. One portion is equivalent to:

  • 1 glass of milk (250ml)
  • 1 tray of yogurt (200gr)
  • 1 piece of hard cheese in the size of a matchbox (30gr e.g. feta, mizithra)
  • 1 slice of toast sliced cheese (30gr e.g. cheddar)
  • ½ a glass of concentrated milk (evaporated) (125ml)

So by incorporating yogurt in your daily diet you may reduce the probability of developing type II diabetes.



National Nutritional Guide, www.diatrofikoiodigoi.gr, Institute Preventive, Environmental and Occupational Medicine.

Chen M, Sun Q, Giovannucci E, Mozaffarian D, Manson JE, Willett WC, Hu FB (2014) Dairy consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: 3 cohorts of US adults and an updated meta-analysis, BMC Medicine, 12:215.

Koloverou E, Panagiotakos DB, PItsavos C, Chrysohoou C, Georgousopoulou EN, Pitaraki E, Metaxa V, Stefanadis C, ATTICA Study Group (2014) 10-year incidence of diabetes and associated risk factors in Greece: the ATTICA study (2002-2012), Rev Diabet Stud, 11(2):181-9.

Mayo Clinic Staff (2015), Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors, www.mayoclinic.org