New research suggests developing healthy habits like drinking milk as a teen could have a long-term effect on a woman's risk for type 2 diabetes. The research appears in this month's issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1).
Researchers found that milk-drinking teens, were also likely to be milk-drinking adults - a lifelong habit that was associated with a 43 percent lower risk for type 2 diabetes compared to non-milk drinkers. Diabetes affects more than 25.8 million people, or nearly 1 out of 10 Americans.
The Harvard University study studied teenage and adult food intake patterns (including milk and milk products) and health risk in more than 37,000 women. Researchers found the women who drank the most milk as adults and consumed the most milk products in their teen years (about 4 servings per day) had a lower risk of type 2 diabetes than those who consistently had a low dairy intake (about 1 serving per day during the teen years). The milk-drinking teens were also more likely to maintain their dairy habit through adulthood and gained less weight over time - nearly 4 pounds less than milk-skippers. Weight gain is another important risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
A second large Harvard study reinforced the lifelong benefits of milk - particularly as a protein source. Studying more than 440,000 adults, researchers found that swapping lowfat dairy for meat as a protein source, could reduce risk for type 2 diabetes by 17%. (2)
Each glass of fat free milk provides 8 grams of high-quality protein, along with eight other essential nutrients Americans need, including calcium and vitamin D for just 80 calories. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend three servings of fat free or lowfat milk each day.