The Nation's Health + health

Insulin secretagogue

Dairy products have the peculiar property of triggering pancreatic release of insulin. The research group at Lund University in Sweden have contributed the most to documenting this phenomenon:


Mean (±SEM) incremental changes (Δ) in serum insulin in response to equal amounts of carbohydrate from a white-wheat-bread reference meal ( x ) and test meals of whey (○), milk (♦), cheese (▵), cod (□), gluten-low (▴), and gluten-high (▾) meals. From Nilsson 2004 .

Note that it is the area under the curve (AUC), not the peak value, that assumes greatest importance.

Dairy products, especially milk, whey, and yogurt, are insulin secretagogues: they stimulate pancreatic release of insulin. The effect is likely due to amino acids and/or polypeptides in dairy products. (The effect is less prominent with cheese. Also see this study.)

By conventional wisdom, this may be a good thing, since the excess insulin will blunt the glucose rise after consumption. However, in my book, this is not such a good thing, since most of us have tired, beaten, overworked pancreatic beta cells from our decades of carbohydrate overconsumption. I fear that the effect of dairy products just take us a bit closer to beta cell failure: diabetes.

Good news: The effect is least with cheese.

Dairy products, diabetes, gluten, and more:

Relevant to: Insulin secretagogue + health