Study: Consuming Red and Processed Meat Raises Diabetes Risk By 33%
Want to avoid type 2 diabetes? Skip the bacon.
For that matter, choose to swap out the beef and have an Impossible or Beyond Burger on your grill this summer instead, and avoid all types of processed meat, poultry, and even fish. That's the finding of a new study that reviewed hundreds of thousands of people's health outcomes and their diet choices over the past decades. Decreasing consumption of red and processed meat, poultry, and fish, may decrease your risk of developing type-2 diabetes by as much as 33 percent, according to new research.
The meta-analysis, published in Diabetes and Metabolism, reviewed nearly thirty studies that evaluated the dietary habits of people who consumed various animal products. In total, the study reviewed results from more than 386,000 individuals to see how eating meat, or skipping it, would affect one's chances of contracting type 2 diabetes over a lifetime. The evidence was clear. Eat meat, raise your risk of type 2 diabetes. Skip it and you lower your risk.
“Overall, the results of this meta-analysis demonstrated a positive association between [type-2 diabetes] and total meat consumption, red meat consumption, and processed meat consumption," according to Endocrinology Advisor.
Just how much did meat consumption tick up the risk factors?
The research found that people who consumed the most red meat saw a 22 percent increase in diabetes onset; processed meat raised the risk by 25 percent. But those who consumed significant amounts of both red and processed meat had an increased risk as high as 33 percent. When the subjects consumed an additional 50 grams more meat per day, the diabetes risk increased to 46 percent. Message: the more meat you eat, the higher your risk.
While sugar is more often associated with the onset of type-2 diabetes, the researchers found that it’s not the only factor. Increased consumption of saturated fat, cholesterol, and heme iron from animal protein was connected with the increased risk. Weight gain from excessive meat consumption may also play a role, the researches noted.
More than 100 million adults in the U.S. are currently diagnosed as diabetic or prediabetic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Once called “adult-onset diabetes,” the disease is now more commonly referred to as type-2 diabetes because of the frequent occurrence in children. As many as 30 percent of all children ages 2-18 are overweight or obese. Being overweight is strongly linked to developing type-2 diabetes.
Studies also point to the connection between fruits and vegetables and the risk of developing diabetes. One study found that people with high levels of vitamin C, from regular consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, along with leafy greens like spinach, was associated with a 62 percent reduced risk for developing the disease.
So while you're skipping the meat, pile your plate with mixed veggies, opt for whole fruits as snacks, and generally tell yourself "If I could grow it, it's a go." Other research points to the benefit of a completely meatless diet in mitigating the risks of developing diabetes. A 2019 Harvard Health study found a predominantly plant-based diet led to a 23 percent reduced risk of developing type-2 diabetes.