Review points to whey proteins for glucose control, calling for long-term studies

By Olivia Brown

- Last updated on GMT

Review points to whey proteins for glucose control

Related tags Whey protein Protein glucose control Glucose glycemic control

Collated literature concludes that consuming whey protein could have beneficial effects on postprandial and glycaemic responses in the short-term, as well as on arterial wall integrity, suggesting their potential to prevent and treat type 2 diabetes (T2D) and cardiovascular diseases (CVDs).

The review, recently published in the ‘Nutrients’ journal, noted that 15g of whey protein consumed prior to a meal was observed to reduce hyperglycaemia by 8%, resulting in an average of two-hours extra of maintained bodily energy.

Whilst the evidence for short-term benefits was strong, the Aix-Marseille University researchers called for future studies to focus on investigating the potential for long-term effects for whey proteins in the face of potential diabetes and CVD treatment options. 

Thus, together with healthy diets, without forgetting other key parameters such as physical activity and avoiding too high air pollution, high-quality whey can be a valuable tool for managing postprandial hyperglycemia and associated oxidative stress, blood lipid profile, and insulin resistance, and it can globally contribute to prevention and improvement of T2DM and CVDs, even if more long-term studies are needed,” ​the researchers conclude.

Prevention with protein

CVDs represent a significant cause of death worldwide, causing 32% of total mortalities in 2019.  These deaths are even more prevalent in those with suffering with T2D, with the syndrome being a major risk factor for early onset of CVD due to their similar lifestyle risk factors.

Diabetes is now recognised as a pandemic, with a global prevalence of 10.5% in 2021, which is predicted to reach a further 12.2% by 2045.

Diet interventions are recognised as effective prevention and treatment intervention strategies for T2D and CVD, with high protein and low sugar and processed food intakes associated with reductions in prevalence.

In addition, previous studies​ have highlighted the negative association of dairy products with T2D, with milk primarily being composed of casein and whey proteins. Whey has been touted a functional food due to its array of health benefits, consisting of immunoglobulins (IGs), glycomacropeptides, albumin and lactoferrin.

Following this, the researchers sought to collate the available research into the potential benefits of whey for prevention and treatment strategies for T2D and CVDs.

Review highlights

It was identified that consuming 15g of whey protein prior to a meal significantly decreased hyperglycaemia by 8%, enabling for around a two-hour longer period of maintained energy levels particularly in those suffering with T2D.

Whilst much of the collated evidence highlighted these short-term beneficial effects on postprandial and glycaemic response, the report called for clinical data to investigate the long-term potential of these effects. However, some existing evidence has favoured the effects on whey and bioactive peptides on these biochemical pathways in the long-term with regular intakes.

Further studies​ highlighted the abilities of whey protein to strengthen arterial walls, hinting at their potential to prevent and improve diabetic conditions and CVD progression.

In addition, the researchers emphasise the vulnerability to oxidation of sensitive amino acids, such as sulphur types and tryptophan, following heat treatment; a process frequently used for such products on the market. The process of microfiltration at low temperature is spotlighted as a method to retain such amino acids and the subsequent health benefits.

Make whey for the future

The researchers regard the importance of diets such as the Mediterranean diet and its beneficial role in T2D prevention, with studies attributing such effects to the rich polyphenol contents of the fruit and vegetables included. Alkaloids such as berberine, trigonelline and capsaicin are also discussed for their abilities to inhibit α-glucosidase and modulate oxidative stress.

The impact of whey intake, alone or in association with polyphenol compounds for example, on the improvement of antioxidant/anti-inflammatory status as well as the increase in the time passed in euglycemia state (also associated with less oxidative stress) are areas that deserve to be studied for T2DM management​,” they conclude.



Source: Nutrients

“Benefits of Whey Proteins on Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Parameters and Prevention of Cardiovascular Diseases”

by Jean-François Lesgards


Related topics Ingredients