Cheese 'beats diabetes': Just two slices a day could reduce risk of developing the disease, study claims
Researchers said fermentation of cheese could trigger some kind of reaction that protects against diabetes But charity warns link may be 'too simplistic'

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UPDATED:

21:03 GMT, 23 July 2012

If you are trying to slim down, you may have crossed cheese off the menu.

But scientists have discovered it may actually help prevent diabetes – an illness often triggered by being overweight.

They claim that eating just two slices of cheese a day cuts the risk of type 2 diabetes by 12 per cent.

cheese

Researchers hypothesised that fermentation of cheese could trigger a reaction that protects against diabetes

The findings go against current health
guidelines, which advise cutting back on dairy products and other
high-fat foods to help prevent the illness.

Around 2.5million Britons have
diabetes. Of these, 90 per cent suffer from type 2, which is often
caused by being very overweight.

But experts fear another million have
the condition, which can cause heart attacks, strokes, blindness and
nerve problems, without yet having been diagnosed.

British and Dutch researchers looked
at the diets of 16,800 healthy adults and 12,400 patients with type 2
diabetes from eight European countries, including the UK.

The study, published in the American
Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that those who ate at least 55g of
cheese a day – around two slices – were 12 per cent less likely to
develop type 2 diabetes. The risk fell by the same amount for those who
ate 55g of yoghurt a day.

For years NHS guidelines have advised
against eating too much dairy, cake or red meat as they are high in
saturated fat. This is thought to increase cholesterol and raise the
risk of diabetes.

But the researchers – including
academics from the Medical Research Council, Cambridge – say not all
saturated fats are as harmful as others, and some may even be
beneficial.

One theory is that the so-called ‘probiotic’ bacteria in
cheese and yoghurt lower cholesterol and produce certain vitamins which
prevent diabetes.

And cheese, milk and yoghurt are also high in vitamin D, calcium and magnesium, which may help protect against the condition.

Diabetes occurs when the body does not
produce enough of the hormone insulin to control its blood sugar
levels. Symptoms of type 2 diabetes include feeling very thirsty,
needing to pass water frequently and constant tiredness.

Although the illness is treatable
through methods such as dietary changes, tablets and injections, it can
cause serious complications if not properly looked after.

But despite the latest findings,
campaigners warned against gorging on cheese and other dairy products
in the hope of warding off diabetes.

Dr Iain Frame, director of research at the charity Diabetes UK, said: ‘It is too simplistic to concentrate on individual foods.

‘We recommend a healthy balanced diet, rich in fruit and vegetables and low in salt and fat.

‘This study gives us no reason to believe that people should change their dairy intake in an attempt to avoid the condition.’