Drop the red meat, lower diabetes risk, say researchers

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
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Red meat eaters could face a higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes. Research now strongly links the disease to red meat consumption; suggesting most people should swap bacon, deli meats and sausages for healthier proteins.

The finding is important for those at risk for diabetes. Simply replacing red meat with beans, nuts, soy and other healthy proteins could lower the chances of developing diabetes, which has reached epidemic proportions.

The increase in type 2 diabetes across the globe also parallels statistics that more people are eating red meat. According to the research, you can lower your chance of diabetes by 21 percent by simply replacing with one serving of nuts.

Other suggestions include consuming fish, whole grains, beans and low-fat dairy products as protein sources - all of which have been promoted for disease prevention.

Eating grains instead of red med can lower diabetes risk by 23 percent and by 17 percent by replacing sausage, bacon, hot dogs and processed meats with low-fat dairy products.

The large study, led by , An Pan, research fellow in the Harvard School of Public Health, Department of Nutrition, and Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at HSPU, looked at diabetes risk and eating one serving of red meat a day, over a period of 20 years.

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The research included 37,083 men followed for 20 years in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study; 79,570 women followed for 28 years in the Nurses' Health Study I; and 87,504 women followed for 14 years in the Nurses' Health Study II

Type 2 diabetes, which affects 350 million people worldwide, also boosts the chances of heart disease and frequent hospitalizations. Uncontrolled diabetes damages every organ in the body. Medications to treat the disease are costly. The expense alone of managing diabetes can destroy quality of life.

Hu and colleagues previously found shifting protein sources away from red meat could lower the chances of heart disease in women, in a 2010 study.

The study also clarified the contribution of processed deli meats for type 2 diabetes, an issue that had been unclear in previous studies. The newest study showed unprocessed and processed meats both pose a risk for type 2 diabetes, with processed meat being worse.

Pan says the 2010 U.S. dietary guidelines for Americans should probably promote healthier sources of protein besides red meat. In addition to inactivity and obesity, diet is a leading risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

Curbing red meat consumption is also a compassionate and positive change that can prevent suffering to animals. Red meat is linked to colon and pancreatic cancer from past studies. The new study strongly associates one daily serving of red meat, processed or unprocessed, to increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
"Red Meat Consumption and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: 3 Cohorts of U.S. Adults and an Updated Meta-Analysis,"
An Pan, et al.

Image credit: morguefile

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