University at Buffalo Study Shows High Dairy Consumption May Improve Insulin Resistance

Todd Rideout, Assistant Professor, Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences

Published June 7, 2013

A study from the University at Buffalo SUNY School of Public Health and Health Professions and the University of Manitoba has found that consumption of high amounts of low-fat dairy food over a six-month period reduced plasma insulin and improved a marker of insulin resistance in healthy adults without adversely affecting lipids or body weight. The study was published in the May 2013 issue of Nutrition Journal.

According to lead author Dr. Todd C. Rideout, assistant professor in University at Buffalo’s department of exercise and nutrition sciences, the endpoint measurements of body weight and composition, energy expenditure, blood pressure, blood glucose, and blood lipid and lipoprotein responses were the same for subjects with diets containing both high and low amounts of dairy. However, the study group that consumed a high amount of dairy (four servings of dairy per day) responded with a nine percent reduction in plasma insulin and an 11 percent reduction in an established marker of insulin resistance, which is the inability of the body to use the hormone insulin properly.

“There is a good deal of debate about the role of dairy consumption on biomarkers of metabolic syndrome and a number of studies have considered that role under different conditions,” said Dr. Rideout. Metabolic syndrome or insulin-resistance syndrome is a combination of medical disorders that increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Twenty-five percent of Americans have the syndrome and its prevalence increases with age.

“The study, while small, is an important contribution to the literature, as it followed subjects over a long time period – six months – compared with the short, one-month duration of most published investigations,” he said. “Our study was designed to specifically examine the effects of low-fat milk and yogurt products. This is important, as different dairy foods have been shown to elicit differential metabolic responses. Determining the health benefits of specific dairy products and isolated dairy bioactive components will be critical issues of future dairy-based research.”