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Scientists believe the drinks slow down the rate of food digestion and stimulate hormones to stop sugar levels rising too fast. In the study, people with Type 2 diabetes were given a readymade shot containing a low dose of whey protein before meals.
They were monitored for a week as they went about normal daily life. The participants were then given control shots, that contained no protein at all, for a further week.
When blood tests taken in both weeks were compared, it showed their glucose levels were much better controlled after drinking the whey supplement.
Participants’ blood sugar levels remained normal for an extra two hours per day on average, compared to the week of not drinking whey protein. Newcastle University’s Dr Daniel West said: “While previous studies in the lab have shown the potential for this dietary intervention, this is the first time people have been monitored as they go about normal life.
“As we see growing numbers of people around the world developing diabetes, investigating the potential of alternatives to drugs such as food supplements becomes more important.”
PhD student Kieran Smith, who analysed the data, added: “People were able to stick to the regime and liked the idea of a convenient, tasty, small pre-made drink that could be carried with them and taken before meals.”
The team now intends to run the study for a longer period of up to six months.
They also plan to look at alternative proteins, such as pea, potato and fungi, for people with vegan or religious dietary needs.
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