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Yogurt Drink Doogh Helps Type 2 Diabetes

Making yogurt

A yogurt drink named doogh that has roots in ancient Persia may have found a very modern use. Researchers from the birthplace of the yogurt beverage found that doogh fortified with vitamin D may help people with type 2 diabetes by reducing inflammatory markers.

Yogurt drink delivers critical vitamin D

In what is now Iran and Afghanistan, ancient people developed a drink made from curdled milk and water that they flavored with mint. Doogh, which is known by other names outside its birthplace, is still enjoyed today in those countries, as well as in Armenia, Turkey, Syria, Pakistan, and the Balkans. Often doogh is carbonated or fizzy and may also contain pennyroyal, a member of the mint family.

An Iranian research team, under direction of Tirang Neyestani, PhD, of Beheshti University of Medical Sciences in Tehran, conducted a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial that involved 90 individuals with type 2 diabetes. The participants were assigned to drink two bottles of either plain doogh, doogh fortified with 500 IU vitamin D, or doogh fortified with 500 IU vitamin D and 250 mg calcium daily for 12 weeks.

The study participants ranged in age from 30 to 60, and most of them were either overweight or obese.

Individuals who consumed doogh fortified with vitamin D or vitamin D plus calcium had lower levels of various markers of inflammation, including C-reactive protein, interleukin (IL)-1 beta, IL-6, fibrinogen, and retinol binding protein (RBP)-4. Levels of C-reactive protein, which is produced in the liver, rise when there is inflammation throughout the body.

Both IL-1 beta and IL-6 are involved in the inflammatory process. Fibrinogen is sometimes measured to help determine a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease, while RBP-4 has a role in insulin and glucose activity.

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The researchers also discovered that study participants who drank fortified doogh had significantly higher levels of adiponectin, a hormone that has anti-inflammatory properties and that helps regulate glucose metabolism. Higher levels of adiponectin have been associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.

Vitamin D and type 2 diabetes
Participants in this study who consumed the fortified doogh also had a significant improvement in their vitamin D status by the end of the study. The same investigators, in a previous study that used fortified doogh, found that vitamin D had a positive effect on glycemic control.

In yet another study, individuals consumed either plain doogh or vitamin D fortified doogh, and those in the latter group showed improved glycemic status, lipid profile, and endothelial biomarkers. It’s been shown that elevated endothelial biomarkers are an indication of an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

Neyestani noted that their latest research “is the first study to show that vitamin D with or without extra calcium resulted in a significant decrease in these particular inflammatory biomarkers,” and also the first time it’s been shown that adiponectin “increased when calcium and vitamin D-fortified doogh was consumed.”

Few foods are good dietary sources of vitamin D, and many people do not get sufficient exposure to the sun to allow their body to produce the vitamin D they need to maintain health. This is especially a problem in a country like Iran, where females are veiled beginning at age 9.

This study showed that consumption of the common yogurt drink doogh fortified with vitamin D may help people with type 2 diabetes, as it improved inflammatory markers for the disease. Perhaps similarly fortified yogurt drinks could be used for individuals with type 2 diabetes in the United States and other parts of the world.

Neyestani TR et al. Improvement of vitamin D status via daily intake of fortified yogurt drink either with or without extra calcium ameliorates systemic inflammatory biomarkers, including adipokines, in the subjects with type 2 diabetes. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 2012 Mar 22
Shab-Bidar S et al. Improvement of vitamin D status resulted in amelioration of biomarkers of systemic inflammation in the subjects with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews 2012 Feb 17
Shab-Bidar S et al. Regular consumption of vitamin D-fortified yogurt drink (doogh) improved endothelial biomarkers in subjects with type 2 diabetes: a randomized double-blind clinical trial. BMC Medicine 2011 Nov 24; 9:125

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Updated 11/25/2014