A New “Whey” to Control Diabetes

A whey protein drink before breakfast can control erratic glucose levels associated with type 2 diabetes, say Tel Aviv University researchers

August 5, 2014

Blood sugar surges — after-meal glucose "spikes" — can be life threatening for the 29 million Americans with diabetes. Diabetic blood sugar spikes have been linked to cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, kidney failure, and retinal damage. Now a new Tel Aviv University study, published in Diabetologia, suggests a novel way to suppress these deadly post-meal glucose surges: the consumption of whey protein concentrate, found in the watery portion of milk separated from cheese curds, before breakfast.

According to TAU's Prof. Daniela Jakubowicz and Dr. Julio Wainstein of the Wolfson Medical Center's Diabetes Unit, Prof. Oren Froy of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Prof. Bo Ahrén of Lund University in Sweden, the consumption of whey protein before meals may even keep diabetics' need for insulin treatment at bay.

"What's remarkable is that consuming whey protein before meals reduces the blood sugar spikes seen after meals. It also improves the body's insulin response, putting it in the same range or even higher than that produced by novel anti-diabetic drugs," said Prof. Jakubowicz. "High milk intake has long been associated with lower risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and milk whey protein increases the production of a gut hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) that stimulates insulin secretion. This, in turn, reduces the blood glucose rise after meals."

A whey cocktail before breakfast

"We hypothesized that stimulating GLP-1 production by consuming whey protein before a meal would enhance insulin secretion and have beneficial glucose-lowering effects in type 2 diabetes," Prof. Jakubowicz said.

The study was conducted on 15 individuals with well-controlled type 2 diabetes at Wolfson Medical Center. The participants were randomized to receive either 50 grams of whey in 250 ml water or a placebo, followed by a standardized high-glycemic index breakfast of three slices of white bread and sugary jelly — a meal designed to produce the maximum post-meal glucose spike.

Blood samples were taken 30 minutes before the meal, when the whey protein or placebo drinks were consumed. Further blood samples, assessing plasma concentration of glucose, intact GLP-1, and insulin concentrations, were taken when the breakfast was served and at 15, 30, 60, 90, 120, 150, and 180 minute intervals after the meal.

The most important meal of the day?

The researchers found that glucose levels were reduced by 28 percent after the whey pre-load over the 180-minute post-meal period, with a uniform reduction during early and late phases. With whey pre-load, insulin and GLP-1 responses also were significantly higher (105 and 141 percent, respectively), producing a 96 percent increase in early insulin response.

"The early insulin response that usually is deficient in type-2 diabetes was significantly higher after whey protein than with placebo, and the whey protein preload significantly reduced the elevation of blood glucose after breakfast," said Prof. Jakubowicz. "Whey protein could therefore represent a novel approach for enhancing glucose-lowering strategies in type 2 diabetes."

Based on the findings of this study, the authors are considering a long-term clinical trial to test the enduring benefits of whey protein consumption for diabetics.


TAU in the Media

On Nakba Day, Pope Francis Gives Palestinians a Symbolic Victory
In Newsweek, former TAU president and Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Prof. Itamar Rabinovich comments on the Pope's meeting with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.
Friday, May 15, 2015

Israeli Film School Graduates to Top of Class
Variety reports on Steve Tisch's $10 million donation to TAU's School of Film and Television.
Monday, April 28, 2015

Breakfast Effects
The Wall Street Journal reports on diabetes research by TAU Prof. Daniela Jacubowicz.
Monday, March 30, 2015

What Netanyahu's Re-election Means for Israel
TAU's Ambassador Itamar Rabinovich discusses the results of the Israeli elections on PBS Newshour.
Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Teacher Bias May Help Discourage Girls from Math, Study Finds
NBC's Today Show interviews TAU's Dr. Edith Sand about her research on bias in teaching math and science to young girls.
Monday, March 9, 2015

Producer Steve Tisch Donates $10 Million to Tel Aviv University Film School
Show business trade journal Variety reports on Steve Tisch's transformative gift.
Thursday, March 5, 2015

How Elementary School Teachers Biases Can Discourage Girls From Math and Science
The New York Times reports on TAU research into teachers' unconscious prejudices in the classroom.
Friday, February 6, 2015

Skull Fossil Offers New Clues on Human Journey From Africa
John Noble Wilford reports on a major find by TAU archaeologists in the New York Times.
Thursday, January 29, 2015

Amid the Clatter of Bats, a Call to Feed
The New York Times profiles the work of TAU researcher Prof. Yossi Yovel.
Monday, January 19, 2015

Lessons From an Ancient Time When Recyclers Walked the Earth
The New York Times interviews TAU archaeologist Prof. Ran Barkai about prehistoric recycling.
Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Is Turkey the Key to Defeating the Islamic State?
TAU's Ambassador Itamar Rabinovich discusses Turkey and ISIS on Bloomberg TV.
Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The "Islamic State": A Different Ball Game
TAU's Prof. Uzi Rabi writes in The Huffington Post about the new reality in the Middle East.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014

TAU Makes the Grade in World University Rankings
The Times Higher Education World University Rankings — the gold standard — includes Tel Aviv University in the "Top 200" universities in the world, the only Israeli university to appear there, Ha'aretz reports.
Thursday, October 2, 2014

How Movies Make Us Empathise with Strangers
TAU neuroscientist Talma Hendler talks about empathy and the movies with Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky in Wired.
Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Israel Should Have Drawn its Red Line with Hamas Far Sooner
Read an op-ed in Haaretz by Dr. Steven Klein, adjunct professor in TAU's International program in Conflict Resolution and Mediation.
Monday, September 1, 2014

TAU Among Top 10 Universities for Venture Capital-Backed Entrepreneurs
TAU joins Stanford, UC Berkeley, and MIT on PitchBook's global VC database list.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014

How Do You Know Where Lightning Will Strike?
Listen to an interview with TAU's Prof. Colin Price on TLV1 Radio.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014

To Deter Hamas: Expect the Unexpected
TAU's Uzi Rabi and Dr. Harel Chorev provide insight in The Huffington Post.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014

On Border with Gaza, San Francisco Surgeon Lends His Expertise
The J: The Jewish News Weekly reports on Dr. Nikolaj Wolfson, a member of AFTAU's Board of Directors, as he travels to Israel in the midst of war.
Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Creativity Pill
Prof. Rivka Inzelberg's study on Parkinson's disease and creativity featured in The Atlantic.
Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Apps — and Airplane Blankets — That Track Our Lives
Mental health smartphone app developed by TAU's Dr. Uri Nevo featured in the New York Times.
Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Prof. Uzi Rabi on Huffington Post Live
Just broadcast live! Watch Prof. Uzi Rabi's interview on HuffPost Live's WorldBrief with Ahmed Shikab-Eldin. Definitely worth a look.
Friday, May 2, 2014

Amb. Itamar Rabinovich on Huffington Post Live
Former TAU president discusses Mideast peace talks and other issues on WorldBrief.
Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Go to archive by subject



©2015 American Friends of Tel Aviv University