Dairy can prevent type 2 diabetes, processed meats increase risk

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A new study links dairy products with a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes and red and processed meats with a higher risk. Wanwisa Hernandez/EyeEm/Getty Images
  • About 90-95% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes are type 2 diabetes, according to the CDC.
  • A new meta-analysis associates low-fat dairy products with a reduced risk of developing T2DM.
  • The study correlated red and processed meats with an increased risk of T2DM, while finding adequate protein alternatives in fish and eggs.
  • Other experts have said that T2DM may be a reversible condition through dietary and lifestyle interventions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimate 1 in 10 people — 37 million Americans — live with diabetes, and more than 1 in 3 people have pre-diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes (T2DM), the most prevalent form of diabetes, develops when the body becomes resistant to the insulin the pancreas produces or when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood glucose levels.

Diabetes can increase the risk of health complications, including cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, stroke, blindness and circulatory problems, which can require amputation of toes, feet or part of the leg.

In a new study, researchers at the University of Naples Federico II in Naples, Italy, have gathered evidence that shows that certain foods can reduce the risk of developing T2DM.

Annalisa Giosuè, Ph.D., of the institution’s Department of Clinical Medicine, led extensive research to explore the relationship between different animal foods and the condition.

Giosuè presented his team’s findings at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) conference in September.

Current dietary guidelines for the prevention of T2DM recommend limited intake of most animal products.

However, research suggests that certain animal products may offer health benefits to reduce the risk of T2DM.

Type 2 diabetes is one of the leading diet-related causes of death worldwide. Learning more about how different dietary components increase or decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes is key to preventing it,” said Dr. Giosue medical news today🇧🇷

To that end, Giosuè and colleagues examined 13 existing meta-analyses that studied which foods were associated with increased risk of T2DM.

They said this type of “review of reviews” brings together one of the most comprehensive levels of evidence possible in medical research.

The 13 meta-analyses provided estimates of how 12 different animal foods may raise or lower the risk of developing T2DM. Categories included:

  • total meat
  • Red meat
  • White meat
  • processed meat
  • total dairy
  • full-fat dairy
  • low-fat dairy
  • fish
  • milk
  • cheese
  • yogurt
  • eggs

Daily consumption of 100 grams (3.53 oz) of total meat was associated with a 20% increased risk. The same amount of red meat was associated with a 22% increase in risk.

Half that amount of processed meats, such as deli meats, bacon and sausages, may have contributed to a 30% increase in the risk of T2DM.

MNT asked Dr. Giosuè why red and processed meats affect the way the body processes blood sugar:

“Meat, particularly red and processed meat, is a relevant source of saturated fatty acids, cholesterol, fatty acids [glycation end] products and heme [animal-derived] iron, which are known to promote chronic subclinical inflammation and impair insulin sensitivity – the ability of cells to respond appropriately to insulin stimulation by absorbing glucose from the blood, thereby lowering blood glucose levels.”

Giosuè further explained that sodium, nitrates and nitrites in processed meats can “not only damage insulin-producing pancreatic cells, but also induce oxidative stress and vascular dysfunction, which, in turn, [reduce] the sensitivity of cells to insulin.”

On the other hand, 50 g (1.76 oz) of white meat, which includes chicken and turkey, corresponded to only a 4% higher risk of T2DM.

Dr. Giosuè said he believes this is because this meat has less fat, a healthier fatty acid profile and less iron from animal sources.

Dr. Giosuè and her team found that dairy foods can offer protection against DM2 or have no effect on its onset.

Consumption of 200 g (nearly 1 cup) of milk was associated with a 10% lower risk of T2DM, and 100 g (3.52 oz) of yogurt correlated with a 6% risk reduction.

One cup of full-fat dairy and low-fat dairy were associated with a 5% and 3% reduction in T2D risk, respectively.

However, meta-analyses showed that cheese and full-fat dairy had no effect on T2D risk. The quality of evidence was low to moderate, however.

During the interview with MNTDr. Giosuè mentioned several benefits of regular dairy intake:

“Nutritionally speaking, dairy products are a source of nutrients, vitamins and other components (namely calcium, proteins, peptides, etc.) with potential beneficial effects on glucose metabolism. For example, whey protein has a well-known effect in modulating the rise in blood glucose levels after meals and also in controlling appetite and body weight.”

“Protective effects against body weight gain and obesity – drivers of the development of type 2 diabetes – have [also] have been reported for probiotics, which can be found in yogurt, the other dairy product whose consumption is associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes,” she continued.

Other low-quality evidence suggested that neither daily servings of 100 g of fish nor an egg a day significantly impact the risk of T2D.

The current study adds credence that limiting or avoiding consumption of animal foods, particularly red and processed meat, can help prevent T2DM.

“Our findings regarding the most adequate intake of animal foods to prevent the incidence of type 2 diabetes are highly concordant with the characteristics of the Mediterranean diet, which is the plant-based dietary pattern that has shown most consistently over time. the potential to reduce the risk of diabetes. type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease”.

– Annalisa Giosuè, Ph.D., study principal investigator

Dr. Roy Taylor, a physician, author, professor and director of the Newcastle Magnetic Resonance Center at Newcastle University in the UK, not involved in the current study, argued in a September 2022 podcast that the wide availability of “cheaper” and more accessible foods processed foods are driving the rise in T2DM cases.

He was especially concerned about the rise in cases among children.

T2DM is considered a chronic condition, although there is evidence to suggest it can be reversible through diet and lifestyle modifications, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Numerous studies, including this one from 2022, showed a link between consumption of ultra-processed foods and increased risk of T2DM. Other research has shown that interventions such as a low-calorie diet, physical activity or bariatric surgery can be effective in reversing T2DM.

While more research is needed to determine whether a primarily plant-based diet such as the Mediterranean diet can reverse T2DM, a growing body of evidence shows that a Mediterranean-style diet can help prevent or slow the progression of the disease.

The Italian researchers acknowledged that the 13 meta-analyses included inferior data in some cases. Thus, they are hesitant to offer “solid recommendations” for T2D prevention based on their studies at this time.

However, Dr. Giosue commented:

“Our study further supports the belief that a plant-based dietary pattern, including limited meat intake, moderate intake of fish, eggs, and full-fat dairy, and habitual consumption of low-fat yogurt, milk, or dairy, may represent the most viable, sustainable, and ultimately successful population-based strategy for optimizing type 2 diabetes prevention.”

Dairy can prevent type 2 diabetes, processed meats increase risk

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