Diabetes is considered to be a silent killer by medical professionals across the world. Even a single symptom reflecting the onset of the disease is a cause for concern. It is a disease that could be hereditary and can also develop due to an unhealthy lifestyle. There are many medically prescribed ways and means to ensure prevention from developing what doctors have labeled a ‘silent killer’ and those who are at immediate risk, are often advised diet control. Diet for diabetics and pre-diabetics is a very important aspect when it comes to controlling blood sugar levels. In that respect, a study has sounded a warning to those people who love to eat meat and poultry saying that it may significantly increase the risk of developing diabetes. Researchers from Duke-NUS Medical School (Duke-NUS) in Singapore found that the higher intake of red meat and poultry is associated with significantly increased risk of developing diabetes, which is partially attributed to their higher content of heme iron in these meats. Senior author Koh Woon Puay said, “We don’t need to remove meat from the diet entirely. Singaporeans just need to reduce the daily intake, especially for red meat, and choose chicken breast and fish/shellfish, or plant-based protein food and dairy products, to reduce the risk of diabetes.” The team analysed 63,257 adults aged 45-74 years between 1993 and 1998, and then followed them up for an average of about 11 years. They found a positive association between intakes of red meat and poultry, and risk of developing diabetes. Specifically, compared to those in the lowest quartile intake, those in the highest quartile intake of red meat and poultry had a 23 percent and 15 per cent increase in risk of diabetes, respectively, while the intake of fish/shellfish was not associated with risk of diabetes. The increase in risk associated with red meat/ poultry was reduced by substituting them with fish/shellfish. The study also investigated the association between dietary heme-iron content from all meats and the risk of diabetes and found a dose-dependent positive association. After adjusting for heme-iron content in the diet, the red-meat and diabetes association was still present, suggesting that other chemicals present in red meat could be accountable for the increase in risk of diabetes.

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