Curtin University researchers have revealed protein fragments from milk could help combat and reduce the risk of developing Australia’s fastest growing chronic disease, type 2 diabetes.
Professor Phillip Newsholme, Head of Curtin’s School of Biomedical Sciences and leader of the project, said the research had a number of findings and direct implications for those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
“In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas makes insulin, but it is not produced in the amount your body needs and it does not work effectively,” Professor Newsholme said.
“Our study demonstrates how consumption of a protein found in milk called whey – a highly digestible source of protein found in many dairy products – impacts positively on the pancreatic cells, helping them to release more insulin.
“This in turn helps to regulate blood glucose levels and could aid in the management of type 2 diabetes.”
The findings, featured in the July issue of the Journal of Nutrition, involved cellular tests and an eight-week study in mice.
The research was conducted in collaboration with the University College of Dublin, the University of Limerick and Teagasc Food Research Centre in County Cork, Ireland.
“We will need to conduct further studies in people with diabetes to confirm the results but the initial findings are promising and indicate that milk, or milk derived products, may be useful in type 2 diabetes management.” Professor Newsholme said.
Approximately one million Australians have been diagnosed with diabetes. The prevalence of type 2 diabetes, in particular, rises with age and is higher in men than in women.
The total annual cost for Australians with type 2 diabetes is up to $6 billion including healthcare costs, the cost of carers and Commonwealth government subsidies.