Changes in red meat consumption tied to increased diabetes risk

There's no question that excess sugar consumption is a no-no for diabetics.

But here's another thing you might need to be wary of in your diet: red meat.

A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that foods like bacon or steaks should probably be eaten in moderation – not just for cholesterol health, but to decrease your chance of developing type 2 diabetes as well.

Elevated risk comes from changes in consumption

Researchers noted that red meat has been consistently linked to diabetes risk, but how changes in consumption affect risk is a topic that has not been explored – until now.

The study included data on more than 148,000 people dating back to 1986. Every four years, participants were questioned about their diets through surveys, and the information was used to assess diabetes risk while adjusting for things like smoking status, family history, race and changes in lifestyle factors.

Results showed that increasing red meat intake by just a half-serving per day was associated with a 48-percent elevated risk for type 2 diabetes in the following four-year period. Reducing consumption by a half-serving was associated with a 14-percent decreased risk of developing the condition.

The role of weight

While body weight tends to have the most significant impact on the development of diabetes, even when researchers controlled for this factor the diabetes risk remained the same.

Dr. David Nathan, who directs the diabetes center at Massachusetts General Hospital, said that compounds in red meat called nitrosamines might play a role in causing stress on the body and damage to the pancreas.

"Our understanding is that, especially [when they occur in] processed meats, these nitrosamines can cause inflammation," he explained to NPR.

So do you have to cut red meat out of your diet completely? It's more about overall lifestyle and moderation, Nathan concluded.

"Red meat should be considered in the setting of a balanced diet," he said.

Source: NPR

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