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Logic would tell you that when you start breaking up whole foods into components that we deem “healthier,” it always seems to backfire. Low-fat milk takes away the fat and leaves the milk with a higher concentration of sugar (lactose) and casein — the hard-to-digest dairy protein. The fat that naturally occurs in milk will slow the absorption of the milk sugar into the bloodstream. The following study suggests that drinking full-fat vs. low-fat milk could powerfully lower the risk of developing diabetes.
In a study published in March 2016 in the journal Circulation, researcher’s evaluated 3,333 adults aged 30-75 for the relationship between full-fat dairy consumption and the risk of diabetes.
After following these individuals for 10 years, 277 of them had been diagnosed with diabetes. After adjusting for demographics, metabolic risks factors, lifestyle, diet and other circulating fatty acids, the group with the highest levels of dairy fat (measured using fatty acid bio-markers) circulating in their blood had a significantly lowered risk of a diabetes diagnosis during the study. (1)
Note: If you are going to drink full-fat milk, be sure it is organic, as the growth hormones, pesticides, chemicals and antibiotics that are used in conventional dairy will all deposit in the fatty parts of the milk.
The mechanism for the blood sugar support that full-fat dairy offers may be due to the unique nature of the dairy fat itself. An important fatty acid in dairy is called butyric acid. In one animal study, a high-fiber diet with supplementation of 500 mg/kg of body weight per day of butyric acid reduced diabetic risk by nearly 40 percent, which is very close to the 44 percent risk reduction seen with the group that ate the full-fat dairy. (3)
Studies also have shown significant benefits with grass-fed dairy products. Grass-fed dairy has been shown to have a whopping 500 times more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) content over grain-fed dairy. (4) CLA has been shown to support healthy blood sugar, weight management, as well as liver and antioxidant function. (5)
In Ayurveda, in addition to full-fat dairy, ghee is used, which is concentrated dairy fat, or butyric acid, with the milk solids boiled off. Studies show that the ingestion of ghee also supports healthy blood sugar levels — likely due to the high concentration of butyric acid found in ghee. (2)