December 8, 2019

Why Is Meat a Risk Factor for Diabetes?


“Why is Meat a Risk Factor for Diabetes?” We’ve known that being
overweight and obese are important risk factors
for type 2 diabetes, but until recently not much
attention has been paid to the role of specific foods. This 2013 meta-analysis
of all the cohorts looking at meat and diabetes found significantly higher risk associated
with total meat consumption, and especially processed meat,
particularly poultry. But why? There’s a whole list of
potential culprits in meat. Maybe it’s the saturated fat
and animal fat. Maybe it’s the trans fats that
are naturally found in meat. Maybe it’s the cholesterol
or the animal protein. The heme iron in meat
can lead to free radicals, and this iron-induced oxidative
stress iron may lead to chronic inflammation,
type 2 diabetes. Advanced glycation end
products are another problem. They promote oxidative
stress and inflammation, and food analyses show
that the highest levels of these so-called glycotoxins
are found in meat, particularly roasted, fried,
or broiled meat, though any foods from
animal sources can be potent sources of these
pro-oxidant chemicals. In this study they fed diabetics
foods packed with glycotoxins, like chicken, fish, and eggs, and their
inflammatory markers shot up: tumor necrosis factor, C-reactive
protein, vascular adhesion molecules. Thus in diabetes, dietary AGEs
promote inflammatory mediators, leading to tissue injury. The good news though is that restriction of these
kinds of foods may suppress these inflammatory effects. Appropriate measures
to limit AGE intake, such as eliminating these foods or
sticking to just steaming and boiling meat, may greatly reduce the
already heavy burden of these toxins in
the diabetic patient. These glycotoxins may
be the missing link between the increased consumption
of animal fat and meats and the development of type 2
diabetes in the first place. Since the 2013 meta-analysis was
published, this study came out, in which about 17,000 people were
followed for about a dozen years. They found an 8% increased risk for
every 50 grams of daily meat consumption. So that’s just like a quarter of
a chicken breast worth of meat for the entire day may significantly
increase risk of diabetes. Yes, it could be the glycotoxins
in meat, or the saturated fat, or the trans fat in meat,
or the heme iron, which could actually promote the formation of
carcinogens called nitrosamines though they could also just be produced
in the cooking process itself, but this is new. There appears to be a clear excess of diabetes
in those that handle meat for a living. Maybe there’s some kind of diabetes
causing zoonotic infectious agent like viruses present in fresh cuts
of meat, including poultry. Over-stimulation of the
aging enzyme TOR pathway by excess food consumption
may be a crucial factor underlying the diabetes epidemic,
but not just any food. Animal proteins may not only stimulate the cancer-
promoting growth hormone IGF-1, but provide high amounts of leucine,
which stimulates TOR activation, and appears to burn out the insulin-
producing beta cells in the pancreas and contribute to type 2 diabetes. So it’s
not just the high fat and added sugars. Critical attention has to be paid
to the daily intake of animal proteins. In general, lower leucine levels
are only really reached by the restriction of animal proteins. As I noted before, to reach the leucine
intake provided by dairy or meat, we’d have to eat nine pounds
of cabbage, 100 apples. These calculations exemplify the extreme
differences in leucine amounts provided by a more standard diet in comparison
to a more plant-based diet. I’ve previously reviewed the role
endocrine-disrupting industrial pollutants in the food supply may play
in a 3-part video series. Clearly the standard American
diet and lifestyle contributes to the epidemic
of diabetes and obesity, but these industrial pollutants
can no longer be ignored. We now have experimental evidence
that exposure to industrial toxins alone induces weight gain
and insulin resistance and therefore may be an
underappreciated cause of obesity and diabetes. Consider what’s happening
to our infants. Obesity in a six-month old is not
related to diet or lack of exercise. They’re now exposed to hundreds
of chemicals from their moms, straight through the umbilical cord, some of which may be
obesogenic — obesity generating. Given the millions of pounds
of chemicals and heavy metals released every year
into the environment, it should make us all stop and think about how we live and the choices we
make every day in the food we eat. As this 2014 review of the evidence
on pollutants and diabetes noted, yes, we can be exposed
through some toxic spill, but most of the human
exposure nowadays is from the ingestion
of contaminated food as a result of bioaccumulation
up the food chain. And the main source, around 95%,
of persistent pollutant intake is through dietary intake of animal fat.

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