A growing body of research
They found that nearly 50 per cent of the deaths were related to poor nutritional choices. For people who already had diabetes, their risk of death increased if they consumed more processed meats.
Another study released this spring from researchers in Finland analysed the diets of more than 2,300 middle-aged men, ages 42 to 60. At the outset, none of the participants had type 2 diabetes. In the follow-up, after 19 years 432 participants did.
Researchers found that those who ate more animal protein and less plant protein had a 35 per cent greater risk of getting diabetes. This included any kind of meat, processed and unprocessed red meat, white meats and variety meats, which include organ meats such as tongue or liver.
And a final study out of Harvard University found that people who ate a single serving of red meat each day had a 19 per cent higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes than those who didn’t. An even smaller-sized serving of processed red meat, such as one hot dog or two slices of bacon, increased the risk to 51 per cent.
This study concluded that choosing whole grains, nuts, low-fat dairy, fish and poultry instead of red meat lowers your risk of diabetes.
What’s the trouble with meat?
The exact reason why meat, particularly red meat and processed meat, is problematic isn’t known. But researchers believe there are three main components that increase diabetes risk:
- Sodium, which increases blood pressure, can cause insulin resistance.
- Nitrites in processed meats may increase insulin resistance and impair pancreatic function.
- Heme iron found in red meat can cause cell damage and chronic inflammation.
- Making a change for better health
- If you are at increased risk for getting diabetes or already have it, small changes matter.
If you eat a lot of red meat, try to cut back. And replacing some meat-based protein with eggs or plant-based protein is your best option. For example, you can get one ounce of protein from:
- One egg
- ¼ cup of cooked beans or peas
- ¼ cup of tofu
- 2 tablespoons of hummus
- 1 tablespoon of peanut or almond butter
The fact is, you only need a small amount of protein each day: 5 ounces daily for women and 6 ounces for men. And older adults need even less protein in their diet.
The Finnish study estimated that replacing just 5 grams of animal protein with plant protein each day would reduce your risk of diabetes by 18 per cent.
The next time you are planning a meal or eating out make some small adjustments. Or, better yet, look for plant-based protein options in new recipes or on the menu at your favourite restaurants.
Source: Cleveland Clinic