Is milk OK for a diabetic? Milk and Diabetes

“Jeko Kheer Piye so Veer Thiye”

This is a Sindhi quote talking about the importance of milk in the health of those who drink it. Milk is known to benefit humans in numerous ways. Thus, it is also an important aspect of many cultures across the globe. Milk and Diabetes have a relationship which is yet hidden. There’s a lot scope in researching the effects of milk and diabetes on the health of an individual.

Nutrition

Table showing nutritional facts of 100mL of plain Milk
Calories 42  
GI 31  
Saturated fats 0.6g 3%
Carbs 5 (5g sugars & 0g dietary fibers) 1% (22% & 0%)
Proteins 3.4g  

 

Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load

GI = 31 -> the glycemic index of milk lies within the lower range, almost at the center (1 – 55). Thus, it joins the low glycemic food club. At 1 serving of 100g (which is equivalent to 96.7 mL) of milk, the carbohydrate content is 5g (entirely consisting of sugar). Although, the carbohydrates in the milk are sugars to their entirety, the glycemic load will tell us more accurately about its effect on the blood sugar levels.

GL = 31*5/100 = 1.55 VERY GOOD

The glycemic load for 100g (96.7 mL) of milk comes to 1.55 which makes it one of the lowest glycemic load foods available. Thus, theoretically we can increase the recommended amount to 600g (580 mL) so that the blood glucose levels are unaffected. However, firstly, not everyone would like to drink such a huge amount of milk and secondly, there have been speculations about the demerits of milk causing increased inflammatory states. Let’s grind in a bit more to discover what milk has for us…

Proteins and fats

Milk protein consists of 18 of total 22 amino acids, of which there are 9 essential amino acids, all of which are present in the milk. Moreover, the NPU for milk protein is 75. This means that upon consumption, you receive all the amino acids that are required by body to build up tissue proteins. However, of the protein amount consumed, almost 75% is retained and rest is washed off from the body, i.e. with consumption of 100mL of protein, ideally 3.4g of protein is being taken into the body but only 2.55g is retained. The recommended daily amount of proteins in diet is 0.83g per body weight. So for an average adult weighing 60kg, the protein RDA will be almost 50g per day. Of this, if a person drinks 250 mL daily, 6.4g of proteins is retained from this amount of milk. Rest 43.6g can be obtained from other foods.

The amount of saturated fat in the milk is 0.6g which accounts for 3% of recommended daily amount. On average, if 250 mL of milk is consumed, it will account for saturated fat mounting to 7.5% of total daily allowance of saturated fat. This should make us think before deciding the ideal daily recommended milk consumption.

Micronutrients

100mL of milk gives 12% RDA of calcium, 8% RDA of vitamin B-12 and 2% RDA of Magnesium. You can read this article to know the benefits of magnesium for diabetic patients. 12% RDA of calcium is equivalent to 120mg of calcium which is mainly utilized by bones and muscular contractions. Vitamin B-12 plays a role in keeping nerves and blood cells healthy and also has a role in synthesis of genetic material.

Benefits and demerits (Milk and Diabetes)

Since time immemorial, milk has been considered ‘AMRUT’ (Hindi word) which literally means immortal nectar. Children since very young age are taught to drink milk regularly. However, recently the benefits of milk have been questioned with few studies suggesting its increased role in causing inflammatory states in the body. But at the same time, the few studies also mention the benefits of low fat dairy intake in preventing metabolic syndrome. Until the debate about milk and its effects comes to an acceptable conclusion, I would suggest continuing taking a glass (250mL) of milk daily as it is a good source of Vitamin B12 which is hard to find in vegetarian sources. However, to avoid excess of saturated fats, it should be moderated along with other fat foods and dairy products. An important aspect of drinking milk is that we tend to consume milk with a high amount sugar mixed into it. Being a diabetic, or even a non-diabetic with healthy lifestyle, one should consume plain boiled milk without any additions, including sugar, jaggery or honey.

Warning:

  • Almost every individual, diabetic or non-diabetic, has its own bodily mechanism and metabolism. It is always cautioned that food recommendations should be correlated with personal health history and the advice of the doctor.
  • These calculations are based on the daily calorie intake of 2000. Therefore, if your calorie intake exceeds 2000 a day, you can increase the ideal serving size and vice versa. However, the recommended blood glucose level still remains the same.

Also, it is a good practice to have a rough calculation of the nutritional facts of the food items before eating them. This applies to the people belonging to all the spectra of health and fitness and not just diabetics.

Do you want me to analyse any other food item? Comment your request below.

References

 

Hey there, I'm a final year undergrad medical student at Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Medical College (SSRMC), Mauritius.

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