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April 10, 2008

Select Studies on Whey Protein - Whey Protein, Blood Sugar, and Oxidative Stress

Blood_sugar72In keeping with our recent theme of oxidative stress and aging, it seems that yet another disorder in which oxidative stress plays a particularly major and multi-faceted role is diabetes.

It’s important to clear up any misconceptions right from the beginning – diabetes is not simply a disease of altered carbohydrate and sugar metabolism as many people think. As research accumulates, it’s becoming well-recognized that diabetes, although it obviously involves faulty blood sugar regulation, would be more precisely classified as fundamentally a disease of oxidative stress.

In other words, oxidative stress is now thought to be the primary underlying cause of faulty blood sugar regulation in diabetes. When we reduce our levels of oxidative stress, our blood sugar naturally tends to normalize.

Study Link - Diabetes, oxidative stress, and antioxidants: a review.

Increasing evidence in both experimental and clinical studies suggests that oxidative stress plays a major role in the pathogenesis of both types of diabetes mellitus.

Diabetes Is Deadly

With how frighteningly common diabetes has become, it’s important for us to recognize how profoundly dangerous and life threatening diabetes can be. Left uncorrected, a chronically elevated level of blood sugar will eventually damage virtually every organ system and function of the body. In diabetes, the cellular damage characteristic of oxidative stress is known to ultimately manifest as extensive damage to the tissues of:

The eyes, (often resulting in blindness)

The blood vessels (often resulting in heart disease, and even sexual dysfunction)

The kidneys (called diabetic nephropathy, often requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant)


Foot ulcers (caused by nerve damage called diabetic neuropathy – often requiring amputation)

With the extensive damage diabetes can cause, finding safe and effective ways of reducing our burden of oxidative stress should be a first priority for any health-conscious person looking to avoid the ravages of the disease.

Not coincidentally, research is beginning to indicate that reducing oxidative stress via stimulating the production of glutathione may be one of the most important keys to healthy blood sugar metabolism:

Study Link - Meal cysteine improves postprandial glucose control in rats fed a high-sucrose meal

Dietary cysteine alleviates sucrose-induced oxidative stress and insulin resistance

Diets that promote oxidative stress favor impairment in glucose homeostasis. In this context, increasing the cysteine intake may be beneficial by maintaining glutathione status. . . Of great interest was the observation that all beneficial effects of cysteine supplementation were duplicated by the consumption of a cysteine-rich protein. These data show that increasing the cysteine intake limits [sugar]-induced impairment of glucose homeostasis and suggest that these effects are mediated by a reduction in oxidative stress.

In the above studies, whey protein was able to improve glucose control, and reduce oxidative stress in rats given high-sugar diets.

And of course, as we’ve shown you before, Integrated Supplements CFM® Whey Protein Isolate is among the richest sources of glutathione-boosting compounds including cysteine and glutamylcysteine.

By itself, it’s certainly premature to say that whey protein will be able to treat or prevent diabetes (remember, supplements by themselves should never be expected to treat, cure, or prevent any disease), but as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle, whey protein isolate may very well be a sound nutritional choice for anyone looking to support a healthy blood sugar through the production of glutathione.

Other Factors

As we’ve showed you in recent editions of the Integrated Supplements Newsletter and blog, other major dietary factors contributing to oxidative stress include excessive amounts of unsaturated fats, oxidized cholesterol, and iron.

Those looking for a comprehensive approach to reducing oxidative stress, may want to read the following articles and Blog posts to get up to speed.


Rancid Fats and Oxidative Stress - Strategies To Reverse Aging - Part 1

Combating Oxidative Stress - Strategies to Reverse Aging - Part 2

The Anti-Aging Diet Part 1 - Can Some Foods Accelerate Aging?

The Anti-Aging Diet Part 2 - The Dark Side of Iron

The Anti-Aging Diet Part 3 - Solving The Puzzle of Iron

Blog Posts:

Select Studies on Whey Protein - Whey Protein Protects Against The Toxic Effects Of Iron

Oxidative Stress And Exercise - Too Much of a "Good Thing"

How To Combat The REAL Risk Factor For Heart Disease And Aging

Studies Find Antioxidants Harmful. Well, Sort Of.

And, of course, stay tuned here for more.



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