Eating Less Meat May Help Deter Diabetes

November 18th, 2013

Dr. Francoise Clavel-Chapelon

Dr. Francoise Clavel-Chapelon

Preventing diabetes could mean going meatless more often.

Scientists at the Institute of Health and Medical Research in Paris have discovered that a dietary acid found in animal proteins may be associated with type 2 diabetes.

Though foods high in sugar such as candies, sodas, white breads and pastas have long been considered the primary culprit of type 2 diabetes, this pioneering study focuses on the negative effects excess meat consumption has on the body.

At the same time, eating more fruits and vegetables can help the body neutralize the acid in meat.

As study leader Dr. Francoise Clavel-Chapelon and her colleagues wrote in the journal Diabetologia:

“A diet rich in animal protein may favour net acid intake, while most fruits and vegetables form alkaline precursors that neutralise the acidity. Contrary to what is generally believed, most fruits such as peaches, apples, pears, bananas and even lemons and oranges actually reduce dietary acid load once the body has processed them.”

The study included over 66,000 women in Europe whose dietary habits were tracked for more than 14 years. During that time, nearly 1,400 of the women were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Those with diets highest in acidic foods were 56% more likely to develop the condition than those with the lowest acidity diets.

Some 25.8 million Americans live with diabetes, 7 million of whom go undiagnosed. Adults age 65 and over are particularly susceptible: 10.9 million had diabetes in 2010, and 50% are estimated to have prediabetes. The total estimated cost of diabetes in the U.S. is $245 billion.

The findings are yet another report that associates meat products with medical issues, and provide

Butternut Squash and Spinach Alfredo

Butternut Squash and Spinach Alfredo

another reason for individuals to join the Meatless Monday movement. But while this and other studies help inform the current discourse, the basic guidelines for a recommended diet remain the same: vegetables, complex carbs, limited meats and fats, and regular physical activity.

Want to get the jump on a reduced meat diet? Try this week’s featured recipe: Butternut Squash and Spinach Alfredo.