Dairy products may prevent type 2 diabetes, processed meats increase risk

Share on Pinterest
A new study links dairy products to a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes and red and processed meats to a higher risk. Wanwisa Hernandez/EyeEm/Getty Images
  • According to the CDC, approximately 90-95% of all diagnosed diabetes cases are type 2 diabetes.
  • A new meta-analysis links low-fat dairy products to a reduced risk of developing T2D.
  • The study correlated red and processed meats with an increased risk of T2D while finding suitable protein alternatives in fish and eggs.
  • Other experts have said that T2DM could be a reversible disease 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 prediabetes.

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

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

In a new study, researchers from the University of Naples Federico II in Naples, Italy, have gathered evidence showing that certain foods can reduce the risk of developing T2D.

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

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

Running dietary guidelines for the prevention of T2D recommend a limited consumption of most animal products.

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

Type 2 diabetes is one of the leading causes of diet-related death worldwide. Knowing more about how different food components increase or decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes is key to preventing it,” said Dr. Giosuè. Medical News Today.

To that end, Giosuè and colleagues reviewed 13 existing meta-analyses that investigated which foods were linked to an increased risk of T2DM.

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

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

  • total meat
  • Red meat
  • White meat
  • processed meat
  • total milk products
  • whole milk products
  • low fat dairy products
  • fish
  • Milk
  • cheese
  • yogurt
  • eggs

Consuming 100 grams (3.53 ounces) of total meat daily was associated with a 20% higher risk. The same amount of red meat was associated with a 22% increased risk.

Half that amount of processed meats, such as deli meats, bacon and sausages, may have contributed to a 30% increase in T2D risk.

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

“Meat, especially red and processed meats, are a significant source of saturated fatty acids, cholesterol, [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 properly to insulin stimulation by taking up glucose from the blood, thereby lowering blood sugar levels.

Giosuè further explained that the sodium, nitrates and nitrites in processed meats could “not only damage insulin-producing pancreatic cells, but also induce oxidative stress and vascular dysfunction, which, in turn, [reduce] cell sensitivity 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 she thinks it’s because this meat has less fat, a healthier fatty acid profile and less iron from animal sources.

Dr. Giosuè and his team discovered that dairy products could offer protection against T2D or have no effect on its appearance.

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

One cup of total dairy and low-fat dairy were each associated with a reduced risk of T2D by 5% and 3%, respectively.

However, meta-analyses have shown that cheese and whole dairy products have no effect on the risk of T2DM. The quality of the evidence was low to moderate, however.

During the interview with DTMDr. Giosuè mentioned several benefits of eating dairy products regularly:

“Nutritionalally, dairy products are a source of nutrients, vitamins and other components (i.e. calcium, proteins, peptides, etc.) with potential beneficial effects on glucose metabolism. For example, whey protein in milk has a well-known effect in modulating the rise in blood sugar after meals, as well as controlling appetite and body weight.

“Protective effects related to body weight gain and obesity—drivers of type 2 diabetes development—have [also] have been reported for probiotics, which are 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 suggests that neither daily 100g servings of fish nor one egg per day have a significant impact on the risk of T2D.

The current study adds credibility that limiting or avoiding consumption of animal foods, namely red and processed meat, can help prevent T2D.

“Our findings on the most appropriate intake of animal-source foods to prevent the incidence of type 2 diabetes are very consistent with the characteristics of the Mediterranean diet, which is the plant-based dietary model that has been shown to more consistently over time the potential to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

– Annalisa Giosuè, Ph.D., principal researcher of the study

Dr Roy Taylor, 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 processed foods are driving the spike in T2D cases.

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

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

Many studies, including this one from 2022, have shown a link between the consumption of ultra-processed foods and an 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 T2D.

Although more research is needed to determine whether a predominantly plant-based diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, could reverse T2D, a growing body of evidence shows that a Mediterranean-type diet may help prevent or delay T2D. disease progression.

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

Nevertheless, Dr. Giosuè commented:

“Our study further confirms the belief that a plant-based diet including limited intakes of meat, moderate intakes of fish, eggs and whole dairy products, and habitual consumption of yogurt, milk or low-fat dairy products , may represent the most feasible, sustainable, and definitively successful population-based strategy for optimizing type 2 diabetes prevention.”