Do you like to eat meat? Did you know that you are exposing yourself to a higher risk of developing type2 diabetes? How can you reduce this risk?

A diet based mainly on animal proteins with a high dietary acid load increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.

The results of a 14-year study, which analysed a total of 66,485 women from France, showed that high dietary acid load is directly associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.  Foods with a high dietary acid loads are meat and other products of animal origin. The study conducted by Guy Fagherazzi, a doctor with a Ph.D. in Epidemiology, evaluated the prospective relationship between dietary acid load, assessed with both the potential renal acid load (PRAL) and the net endogenous acid production (NEAP) scores, and type 2 diabetes risk.

The results of the study showed that 25% of women with the highest acid load according to the PRAL score were at 56% increased risk of diabetes compared with the 25% of women with the lowest acid load. Reporting to the NEAP score, a similar result was observed: the 25% of women with the highest acid load according to the NEAP score were at 57% increased risk of diabetes compared with the 25% of women with the lowest acid load. High PRAL and NEAP scores were associated with higher type 2 diabetes risk in both normal-weight (<25kg/m2) and overweight/obese women (>25kg/m2), but that the association was stronger in normal-weight women.

To explain the phenomenon, Dr. Guy Fagherazzi showed that a diet based mainly on acidic foods increases the insulin resistance, and, in time, the body has difficulties in producing the optimum quantity of insulin and keeping the levels of blood sugar under control.

How can the people that eat foods with a high dietary acid load reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes?

Dietary acid load is a term used to describe the amount of acid produced by the body as it digests foods. Ingested food, as a result of the digestive process, will present itself to the kidneys as either an acid-forming compound or an alkaline-forming one. But the apparent high acidity of foods does not necessary indicate that in the end of metabolic process they will present a high acid load. What determines a food’s acidity or alkalinity is how it breaks down during the digestion. For example, citrus fruits have an acidic composition, but when consumed, they are alkaline-forming.

As a general rule, the foods that contain protein tend to be metabolized toward acids, while most of the plant foods are alkaline-forming.

The usual diet of the Western people is a diet rich in animal products and other acidogenic foods. Meat is the favorite “vegetable” of a lot of people. It’s true that meat is an excellent source of proteins, vitamins and minerals, but metabolized it presents a high dietary acid load. Nutritionists recommend only 70 g of red processed meat per day. To keep the dietary acid load of meat under control it is recommended to eat it in limited amounts and consume it accompanied by alkaline forming foods. The alkaline forming foods will help to neutralize the acids formed during the digestion of the meat. Fruits and vegetables are a great option when we are trying to neutralize the dietary acid load and this is why the daily eating plan should include at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables. Keeping the acid/base balance under control reduces allows you to eat meat and avoid the risk of developing  type 2 diabetes.


Read more:

  • Fagherazzi G, Villier A, Bonnet F, et al. – Dietary acid load and risk of type 2 diabetes: the E3N-EPIC cohort study. Diabetologia. Published online November 11 2013

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