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Is Milk Good For Diabetes?

Medically reviewed by Mae Charisse Antalan, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Hello Bacsi · Updated Mar 13

    Is Milk Good For Diabetes?

    If you have diabetes, you need to understand that not all milk is healthy. Granted, your body needs calcium and protein from this supplement, but the bottom line is that saturated fat, carbohydrates (carbs), and sugar have the risk of affecting blood sugar. So the question is – is milk good for diabetes?

    Many diabetics, after hearing unfounded rumors about drinking milk, have completely eliminated it from their diet. Removing milk completely does not help your nutrition.  The truth is that type 2 diabetics can drink raw milk as usual with strict control and the milk must be suitable for their health status. So is milk good for diabetes patients? Yes, but there’s a caveat. 

    Is Milk Good for Diabetes?

    In general, a 250ml serving of milk will provide about 12 grams of carbs. Once in the body, this is converted into glucose and can cause blood sugar to rise suddenly if the amount consumed exceeds the specified level.

    Because of this, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that patients should balance their daily carb intake if they want to control blood sugar well. Accordingly, patients should measure blood sugar before and after eating to clearly determine which foods are safe for them and how much is appropriate.

    So is milk good for diabets – what kind? Many types of milk also contain saturated fat or unhealthy food additives. These ingredients have all been linked to cardiovascular disease, a serious complication of diabetes.

    However, if you drink raw milk properly, you can still get great benefits from this food. The truth is that drinking raw milk can help reduce the risk of diabetes.

    To date, a series of different studies have found a link between milk consumption and type 2 diabetes. Research has found that a diet rich in saturated fats has the ability to prevent type 2 diabetes, obesity, as well as many other cardiovascular problems. This is due to the palmitoleic acid (a fatty acid found in milk fat) that improves insulin sensitivity. Furthermore, the fat component of most dairy products also contains butyrate, which is known not only for its role in improving gut microbiota but also for inhibiting inflammation associated with growth development of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

    In addition, phytanic acid (another fatty acid also found in raw milk) and conjugated linolenic acid has also been reported to reduce the risk of diabetes and cancer.

    However, as mentioned above, saturated fats are not good for heart health. Recommendations for people with diabetes often focus on the amount of carbs in raw milk rather than the amount of fat.

    Which Milk is Best for People with Diabetes?

    It depends on each individual’s carb needs. Fresh milk has many types and the choice of what type of milk to drink will depend on preference, the rest will be based on food choices and total carbs consumed during the day.

    For example, if you want to consume an extra box of unsweetened fresh milk, you have to cut back on your daily servings to balance your carb needs. The best way is that you should divide your meals and drink milk with snacks while checking blood sugar. 

    Calculating the carb count will be simpler if you consume fresh dairy products that have nutrition labels. Thanks to the nutritional breakdowns on the label, you can clearly grasp the amount of carbs in each type, along with other information such as the type of fat, the amount of sugar in milk, etc.

    General advice is that you stay away from milk with sugar and avoid milk that is high in saturated fat and trans fat, which is not good for heart health. Instead, you should use products containing monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats to limit the absorption of bad cholesterol (LDL).

    Types of Milk and Their Nutritional Value

    In general, people with diabetes should drink about 1–2 cups of milk per day. There are many different options that you can refer to below:

    Pure fresh milk

    • Calories: 149
    • Fat: 8g
    • Carbohydrates: 12g
    • Fiber: 0
    • Protein: 8g
    • Calcium: 276mg

    Skim milk

    • Calories: 91
    • Fat: 0.61g
    • Carbohydrates: 12g
    • Fiber: 0
    • Protein: 9g
    • Calcium: 316mg

    Unsweetened Almond Milk

    • Calories: 39
    • Fat: 2.88g
    • Carbohydrates: 1.52g
    • Fiber: 0.5–1g
    • Protein: 1.55g
    • Calcium: 516mg

    Soy milk without sugar

    • Calories: 79
    • Fat: 4.01g
    • Carbohydrates: 4.01g
    • Fiber: 1g
    • Protein: 7g
    • Calcium: 300mg

    Unsweetened flaxseed milk

    • Calories: 24
    • Fat: 2.50g
    • Carbohydrates: 1.02g
    • Fiber: 0
    • Protein: 0g
    • Calcium: 300mg

    Sugar-free rice milk

    • Calories: 113
    • Fat: 2.33g
    • Carbohydrates: 22g
    • Fiber: 0.7g
    • Protein: 0.67g
    • Calcium: 283mg

    Do Not Drink Milk If…

    Although it is a good source of nutrition for the body, especially vitamin D, milk may not be a good option for those with type 2 diabetes, especially for the following reasons:

    Allergic to milk

    Approximately 0.1–0.5% of adults are allergic to milk.

    Lactose intolerance

    People with this condition often cannot fully digest the lactose in milk. As a result, they are prone to diarrhea and bloating. A common cause of this problem is a deficiency of lactase – an enzyme produced in the small intestine that leads to lactose intolerance.

    Increased intestinal permeability

    Once the intestinal lining is damaged, the tight junctions between the intestinal wall and the bloodstream are no longer able to prevent proteins, bacteria, or part of the bacteria from leaking into the bloodstream. As a result, these agents trigger the immune system to overwork.

    Part of the immune system is now also able to respond to allergens found in milk such as alpha-casein, beta-casein, butyrophilin, and casomorphin. For this reason, people with intestinal mucosal damage will experience symptoms such as bloating, diarrhea, and heartburn if they drink milk.

    The body is gluten intolerant

    Gluten is a protein found in wheat and rye. Accordingly, people who are intolerant to this substance often experience heartburn, bloating, or joint pain when consuming these foods. People with this condition also cannot drink raw milk because gluten increases the permeability of the intestinal wall.

    Intestinal bacterial overload

    As the name suggests, an overgrowth of gut bacteria is one of the causes of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). People with this disease may experience some gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea, gas, and bloating due to bacteria in the small intestine breaking down and fermenting the sugar in milk.

    If you have questions about nutrition, diets, and such in relation to your diabetes condition, consult your doctor.

    Read more on Type 2 Diabetes here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Mae Charisse Antalan, MD

    General Practitioner

    Written by Hello Bacsi · Updated Mar 13

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