Protein drinks have often been a lifesaver for me. They’re easy, quick ways to get in a light meal or snack, or help with muscle recovery after a workout.
The market’s loaded with various types of protein shakes, but the kind I use personally—and recommend—is whey protein. Even those with casein allergies can often tolerate whey with no problem.
Now I have an even more compelling reason to recommend whey protein: According to new research, whey protein drinks may help people with type-2 diabetes control erratic glucose levels — specifically, those dangerous post-meal blood sugar surges.
In this small but impressive study, people who drank whey protein mixed in plain water, before eating breakfast, had significantly lower blood sugar spikes than the control group. And considering the “breakfast” in question here consisted entirely of carbs, it makes the glucose reduction even more impressive.
The other remarkable thing was this: For those who consumed the whey protein before eating (vs the control group), insulin levels were 105 percent higher. In short, this means whey protein helps the body do what it should.
This study’s findings also mean that simply having a whey protein shake could totally change the way people take diabetes medication, In fact, it may even help people reduce — or even eliminate — the need for medication. Which is always the goal for me and my patients.
Adding to the good news: According to the researchers, because blood levels were checked every 30 minutes for the three hours after the meal, they determined the whey protein wasn’t just a “quick fix.” It consistently helped improve the body’s response to insulin over that extended time span — better than anti-diabetic drugs.
Music to my ears.
This proves time and time again that the things I tell you about here in the Reality Health Check (and in my Logical Health Alternatives newsletter) can—and do—work. And given enough research dollars, studies will prove it. Of course, I already know they work—thanks to years of watching my patients’ success. But without double blind, placebo-controlled studies, the skeptics don’t even want to hear about it. Conventional medicine still has no interest in discussing things like this.
Yet, in this era of cost cutting and price consciousness in health care, you would think mainstream medicine would be happy to re-examine one of the largest costs—pharmaceutical medications. But that’s almost never addressed. Is anyone surprised?
Regardless of whether or not the mainstream ever comes around, you can put this research to good use starting today. If you’ve got diabetes, or if you’re pre-diabetic, I recommend investing in a good quality whey protein shake. Look for one that has 8 grams of carbs or less per serving. And, just like the subjects in this study, mix it with plain water. I know a lot of you like to mix it with milk or berries, but plain really is best. If you like a thicker consistency, add some ice cubes and mix it up in a blender.
Gut-wrenching risks of artificial sweeteners
As much as I despise sugar, I think I may detest artificial sweeteners even more. And the latest research on these poisons only reaffirms my hatred. Not only does this new study reveal that artificial sweeteners lead to the very diseases they’re supposed to help prevent, but they also wreak havoc on your gut bacteria.
In fact, these two findings are directly linked.
Researchers gave mice water laced with the three most commonly used artificial sweeteners, in amounts equivalent to those permitted by the good old FDA. They also had two more groups—one that got sugar water, and one that got regular water. The mice that got the artificial sweeteners obviously developed more glucose intolerance than the ones that drank regular water. But they also had higher rates than the mice that drank straight-up sugar water.
And, as you know, glucose intolerance is the first step on the road to metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
Just to confirm these findings: repeating the experiment with different types of mice—and different doses of sweeteners—didn’t alter the result.
Next, the researchers investigated a hypothesis that gut microbiota are involved in this phenomenon. So they treated mice with antibiotics to eradicate many of their gut bacteria. And, what do you know: it resulted in a full reversal of the artificial sweeteners’ effects on glucose metabolism. This, in itself, was conclusive proof that changes to gut bacteria are directly responsible for the harmful effects to glucose metabolism.
Of course, you know how I feel about animal research…I’m much more interested in knowing the effects on humans. Luckily, these researchers felt the same way. So they also looked at data from a previous study they’d conducted, called the Personalized Nutrition Project (which is the largest human trial to date to examine the connection between nutrition and gut bacteria, by the way). And, once again, they found a significant link between artificial sweetener consumption, gut bacteria, and glucose intolerance.
And just to cement these findings even further, they also followed up with a human trial.
They recruited participants who didn’t typically consume foods or drinks that contain artificial sweeteners and asked them to eat them for a week. Then they tested the subjects’ glucose levels and gut bacteria. Sure enough, a significant portion of the volunteers had already started to develop glucose intolerance.
And the researchers traced these problems directly back to changes in the subjects’ gut bacteria that occurred after exposure to artificial sweeteners.
In other words—the subjects’ gut bacteria was a mess, and they were well on their way to diabetes. After just ONE WEEK of consuming artificial sweeteners.
Bottom line: drop that pink packet. And blue packet. And yellow packet. And if you haven’t unclenched your grip on that diet soda by now, I’m coming to snatch it out of your hands.
“Incretin, insulinotropic and glucose-lowering effects of whey protein pre-load in type 2 diabetes: a randomised clinical trial.” Diabetologia, 2014; 57 (9): 180
“New ‘whey’ to control diabetes.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8/5/14 (www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140805132248.htm).
“Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota.” Nature, 8/28/14 (epub ahead of print)
“Certain gut bacteria may induce metabolic changes following exposure to artificial sweeteners.” ScienceDaily, 9/17/14 (www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140917131634.htm)