(from Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, November 2011)

According to the largest and most comprehensive study to date of meat eating and diabetes risk, you’ll reduce by 16%-35%your risk of type 2 diabetes by substituting nuts, whole grains, or low-fat dairy such as yogurt for meats.

Conversely, you’ll increase by 19% your risk of developing the disease by eating just 4 ounces of red meat daily.  If you eat just 2 ounces of processed meats, such as lunchmeats or one hot dog or sausage or two strips of bacon daily, you’ll increase by 51% your risk for diabetes.

Choosing poultry or fish instead of red meat and processed meat was also found to reduce the risk of diabetes.

Frank B Hu, MD, PhD, and colleagues of the Harvard School of Public Health studied the dietary habits of 200,000 people, combining that data with prior data for a total of 442,101 participants, 28,228 of whom developed type 2 diabetes.

While other studies linked meat consumption with diabetes risk, this is the first to calculate the benefits of eating low-fat dairy or plant proteins such as nuts and whole grains instead.

Even after adjusting the analyses for lifestyle factors, total caloric intake and Body Mass Index, the link between meat and diabetes remained

“The good news,” says Dr Hu, “is that such troubling risk factors can be offset by swapping red meat for a healthier protein.”

There are several ways red meat can contribute to the disease.  Chemical preservatives, such as nitrates, and high concentrations of sodium in processed meats can damage cells in the pancreas involved in producing insulin.  Red meat is high in “heme” iron, which contributes to oxidative stress and inflammation.

Dr Hu advises limiting processed meat to one serving a week and unprocessed red meat to two or three weekly servings.

To stay abreast of Lake County Battles Obesity, visit Ron Graham’s blog for the Lake County General Health District at   http://lcghd.blogspot.com    Visit often.  The life and limb you save may be your own.


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