As I’m sure you’re aware, diabetes is a steadily growing epidemic in the United States. Especially for people like me—the middle-aged male population. Your doctor has probably told you that the best way to curb your chances of developing diabetes is by maintaining a healthy lifestyle complete with a nutritional diet and regular exercise. And they’re absolutely right! The problem is that healthy living can mean different things for different people.So, naturally, you’re probably wondering what it means for you. Older research has suggested a link between high-protein diets, especially those high in animal protein, and the increased risk of Type 2 diabetes. Well, a recent study in Finland may have discovered the solution: plant-based proteins. Yes, believe it or not, the source of your protein intake could be vital to lowering the risk of developing this disease.
Plant-Based Proteins May Lower Diabetes Risk by 35%
The study in question, conducted by the Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition at the University of Eastern Finland, tracked 2,332 male participants between the ages of 42 and 60. At the onset of the study, between 1984 and 1989, none of these men were in any way afflicted by diabetes. What they ultimately found was astonishing.
By the time of the 19-year follow-up, 432 of the men had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. And a lot of it had to do with their diets. Men who enjoyed diets with meat as the predominant source of protein had a higher chance of developing Type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, men whose main source of protein was plant-based were less likely to develop the disease. As much as 35% less likely, to be exact.
Don’t get me wrong, here. I’m not trying to imply that protein is bad for you. Not by a long shot. It’s actually very important for building and maintaining muscle mass throughout your body. What I’m saying is that the source of protein seems to make a big difference when it comes to diabetes risk.
Diversify Your Protein Sources
There are certain compounds in red, white, processed, and unprocessed meats that could work against your efforts to lead a healthy lifestyle. However, adding more plant-based proteins to your diet, such as quinoa, spelt, kamut, and potatoes, but still keeping a balanced diet, could significantly decrease your blood glucose levels. Of course, this study is just the beginning, and further research is needed to come up with a conclusive answer.
But it is some interesting food for thought for middle-aged men like me who are trying to make healthier life choices. Especially if you’re already at risk for diabetes, have a family history of it, or have prediabetes. Still, each case is different. And if you’re already on a strict diet due to a previous condition, you should always ask your doctor before making any major dietary changes.
Nichols, H., “Diet rich in plant protein may prevent type 2 diabetes,” Medical News Today, April 22, 2017; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317059.php, last accessed April 25, 2017.
Virtanen, H., et al., “Intake of different dietary proteins and risk of type 2 diabetes in men: the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study,” British Journal of Nutrition, March 2017; 117(6):882-893. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28397639, last accessed April 25, 2017.
“Plant protein may protect against type 2 diabetes, meat eaters at greater risk,” ScienceDaily, April 19, 2017; https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170419091654.htm, last accessed April 25, 2017.