You may have noticed that lately, I continue to write regularly on the development of type 2 diabetes. Certainly in the U.S. and other regions of North America, this disease has really taken hold, rapidly expanding its reach throughout the various demographic subgroups. The influence of this disease continues to wreak havoc within our communities, so every new piece of information regarding this disease needs to be effectively challenged and understood until we have an adequate solution to this public health nightmare.
According to a new, large European study, the intake of animal protein has been linked to the increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This trend was found to be much more prevalent in women who were classified as being obese.
This study looked at the health and lifestyle information of more than 26,000 people over a 12-year period covering eight different countries. Some of these subjects had type 2 diabetes and some did not.
The results of this large study indicated that those people who consumed the highest overall amounts of protein from animal sources also experienced a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The researchers also found that for every 10-gram increase in animal protein intake, there was an associated 13% higher incidence of type 2 diabetes. In women who were considered obese, this relationship was even more pronounced; it was shown that obese woman had a 19% increase in the incidence of type 2 diabetes when their levels of animal protein consumption proportionately increased.
What is important to understand regarding this new information is that this study found no associated risk of developing diabetes with the intake of protein sources consisting of fish, dairy products, or plants.
According to these European researchers, “Our study, the largest of its kind in terms of sample size, number of cases, and follow-up years, is the first to investigate the association between type 2 diabetes incidence and protein intake at a general European level… Our results show that protein of animal origin is largely responsible for the association—not plant protein.”
OK, so what does this study indicate for those of you who want to reduce your risk of ever developing type 2 diabetes?
Well, under further scrutiny, it’s not really the protein “per se” with which you need to be concerned. It’s the nature of the fat content inside animal protein that can make all the difference in the development of type 2 diabetes.
The risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases proportionately with the amount of animal protein consumed because red meat contains a lot more saturated fat and a type of fatty acid called arachadonic acid compared to protein derived from other sources.
Saturated fat increases blood sugar, which increases insulin resistance. It also influences the amount of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol produced in the liver. Increases in LDL cholesterol have harmful effects on insulin and carbohydrate metabolism by adversely influencing liver function.
More importantly, red meat contains higher amounts of arachadonic acid, which is a known precursor to the inflammatory response. Arachadonic acid increases the production of prostaglandins that drive high levels of inflammation inside our bodies. This inflammation worsens insulin resistance and prevents adequate blood sugar regulation. This process greatly influences the development of type 2 diabetes.
Protein from fish, Greek yogurt, and legumes has the exact opposite effect upon glucose metabolism compared to that of protein from animal sources; hence, this study has affirmed this important difference.
Sources for Today’s Article:
Hand, L., “High Protein Intake Linked to Higher Type 2 Diabetes Incidence,” Medscape web site, April 21, 2014; http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/823769?src=wnl_edit_tpal&uac=5573DJ.
van Nielen, M., et al., “Dietary Protein Intake and Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes in Europe: The EPIC-INTERACT Case-Cohort Study,” Diabetes Care April 10, 2014.