Diet and Nutrition

Frequent Consumption of Red Meat May Lead to Diabetes, Study Shows

Frequent Consumption of Red Meat May Lead to Diabetes, Study Shows

“Health is Wealth” as the saying goes, but keeping oneself healthy is one of the most challenging parts of a daily routine. Living in this fast-paced life can be too overwhelming for some, and as a way to relieve their daily stress, they resort to higher food consumption that can put their health at great risk. We already know the presence of different health conditions that affect most people with a poor diet. From colorectal cancers to different digestive ailments, studies now show that too much consumption of red meat can lead to Diabetes.

In a recently published article which includes one of the largest Asian studies tackling the issue about the meat consumption and its relationship with the development of Type 2 Diabetes, it is shown that findings were consistent with the other Western studies conducted with the same cause. It was stated that more intake of red meat and a high level of heme-iron content in the diet could increase the risk of developing diabetes.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a serious health condition that prevents the absorption of blood glucose in the body due to the lack of insulin. There are two types of Diabetes; the first is the Type 1 Diabetes or also known as Insulin Dependent Diabetes that is developed at birth and is highly linked to genetics. The other one is Type 2 Diabetes or most commonly known as Non- Insulin Dependent Diabetes, which is the most common type of diabetes linked to improper diet. Compared with Type 1 Diabetes, acquiring Type 2 Diabetes can be managed and sometimes be prevented through proper diet and regular exercise.

How does frequent consumption of red meat link with diabetes?

Red Meat and other meat products are served in our cafeterias, favorite restaurants, and for some, it is considered one of the staple foods served at their dinner tables. Frequent consumption of these was already linked to various heart ailments like atherosclerosis, stroke, and also colorectal cancer. But studies show that it can also be linked to the development of Type 2 Diabetes later in life.

In a study conducted by the researchers of Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and the participation of male and female healthcare professionals for over 14 to 28 years, it suggests that there should be a daily serving of food that contains red meat. The red meat that is larger than a deck of cards were said to have increased the risk by 19 percent of adult-onset diabetes. Consuming processed red meat also proved much worse in which a daily serving with only half that size— like one hot dog or two slices of bacon— was associated with an increased risk by 51 percent.

According to the results of the study mobilized by the researchers of HSPH, there are various components in red meat and other meat products that upon frequent consumption would lead to Adult-onset Diabetes. To start with, the presence of Sodium, Nitrates, and Iron in red meat makes it harmful for the body if ingested beyond the recommended amount per serving in a day. Sodium is linked to causing insulin resistance as with the same effects of nitrites and nitrates that impair the function of pancreatic beta cells. Heme Iron, on the other hand, is an absorbable type of iron already found in meat can cause oxidative stress, cell damage, systemic and chronic inflammation if found present in the body at higher levels.

From another study published by NCBI, the researchers concluded that meat consumption is consistently associated with diabetes risk. With the data provided through this Adventist Mortality Study conducted in the 1960’s that was followed through 21 years, it shows that there is a high prevalence of Diabetes as the frequency of meat consumption is increased. The results revealed that 40% and 80% higher prevalence of diabetes among women who consume meat often ( with a prevalence ratio = 1.4, 95% CI, 1.2–1.8) and men (prevalence ratio = 1.8, 95% CI, 1.3–2.5), respectively as compared to vegetarians after adjustment for age and body weight.

Added to that, this study shows that there were various contributing factors that can lead to the development of Adult-Onset Diabetes due to frequent consumption of red meat. Increased weight or Obesity is somehow linked to the development of diabetes as fat accumulation in the muscle and liver interferes with the insulin absorption in the body. Also, the presence of Sodium and Nitrates in red meat and processed meats can cause insulin resistance. While some interference caused by an elevated iron levels in the body can cause damage to body tissues that also include insulin-producing pancreatic cells wherein insulin resistance also takes place.  

Moreover, the consumption of meat and even chicken may eventually double the risk of developing Diabetes. This study appeared in the scientific journal The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It is conducted by the Researchers Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Spain's Tarragona. The researchers have evaluated and tested the associations of the total and fat intake subtypes, as well as the risk of Type-2 diabetes.

The results from the data gathered from 3,349 participants revealed that there is a strong relationship between the food sources rich in saturated fat and type 2 Diabetes. Within 4 and half years of follow-up, 266 out of 3,349 participants have developed type 2 diabetes related to high consumption of meat and other meat products.  The presence of saturated fats in meat is subsequently linked to a decrease in insulin absorption in the body, thus aids in the development of Adult- onset Diabetes.

What can we do to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes?

Although the consumption of red meat and other meat products is not forbidden, it is still advised that it should be taken in complete moderation, enough to help the body absorb the needed nutrients for proper body function and food substitution in most cases is highly encouraged. To maintain a healthy lifestyle, a little adjustment to your diet plan is greatly encouraged. Nowadays, finding the right diet and regular exercise is crucial in keeping your body in top shape.  Moreover, based on three different research and studies mentioned above, food substitution is one of the best ways to prevent the onset of Type 2 Diabetes among people.

It is suggested in a previous study that swapping saturated animal fats with olive oil and nuts can be of help. While in another study, it suggests that substituting meat to other foods like whole grains, nuts, low-fat dairy, fish, and poultry can lower the risk of Type 2 Diabetes. Dietary Habits should also be modified together with the presence of frequent body activity that can help prevent the onset of diseases and maintain good health.

These findings coincide with the HPB's recommendation. The recommendation was that red meat must be consumed moderately only. It is also emphasized that a healthy, as well as a properly balanced diet, must have a variety of protein sources that are, of course, sufficient enough for the whole body. This includes healthier options and alternatives to red meat like fish, legumes, and tofu according to Dr. Annie Ling, the Director of Policy, Research and Surveillance Division, Health Promotion Board.

To sum it up, it is important to keep your body in good physical shape and a little diet modification won’t be harmful to make you a little stronger than you used to. Keep yourself healthy for our wealth comes from good health.