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Less meat, more fruits cut diabetes risk

Love your regular dinner of chicken tikka masala or smoked pork ribs with a big glass of chocolate milkshake? Here is some food for thought: You may want to cut down on your meat intake...

health and fitness Updated: Nov 29, 2013 17:49 IST

Love your regular dinner of chicken tikka masala or smoked pork ribs with a big glass of chocolate milkshake? Here is some food for thought: You may want to cut down on your meat intake to evade the risk of diabetes or so a recent study says.

The findings reveal that cutting down on meat and dairy products in favour of fruits and vegetables could dramatically reduce the risk of diabetes. Dr Françoise Clavel-Chapelon’s team at the Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health in Paris found that animal products, including meat, cheese and egg yolk, trigger stomach acids linked to the disease. Yet fruits, including acidic fruits such as lemons and oranges, reduce the stomach acids before they can cause harm to the body.

“A diet rich in animal protein may favour net acid intake, while most fruits and vegetables form alkaline precursors that neutralise the acidity,” says Clavel-Chapelon.

He adds, “Contrary to what is generally believed, most fruits like peaches, apples, pears, bananas and oranges reduce dietary acid load once the body has processed them.”

The study involved nearly 66,500 women (from the French centre of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition) over 14 years, with findings showing that those with acidic diets were more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Scientists gave the subjects PRAL scores (potential renal acid load) in their diets, with those with scores in the top 25% having a 56% greater risk of getting diabetes than those in the bottom 25%.

Meats can have a PRAL value as high as 13.2, cheeses 26.8 and fish 10.8. Fruits and vegetables have negative PRAL values. Another study at the Human Nutrition Research Center in Beltsville, Maryland, found that if you use half a teaspoon of cinnamon daily, it can make cells more sensitive to insulin. After 40 days of taking various amount of cinnamon extract, diabetics experienced not only lower blood sugar spikes after eating, but major improvements in signs of heart health. And you can sprinkle cinnamon on just about anything. So, go ahead, eat healthy!

Bust some diabetes myths
MYTH: Diabetes is not that serious.
FACT: True, this illness can be controlled with proper diet and medications but you should not take the symptoms lightly either. Diabetes causes more deaths than breast cancer and HIV/AIDS combined. So, if you are making frequent trips to the bathroom at night, experience extreme thirst, overwhelming fatigue, or blurry vision or notice that you keep getting infections, you must visit a physician.
MYTH: Sugar must be avoided at all costs.
FACT: A slice of cake or your favourite bowl of halwa or gulab jamun doesn’t have to be off limits, as long as it’s a part of a healthy meal plan or combined with exercise. Discuss your diet thoroughly with your doctor
MYTH: High protein diet is the only way to go.
FACT: Eating too much protein along with high fat low carb diet, may actually cause insulin resistance — a key factor in diabetes. It is important to have a balanced and healthy diet.
MYTH: You have to cut down drastically on carbohydrates.
FACT: Extreme of everything is bad for any health issue. Focus on whole grain carbs since they are a good source of fibre and they are digested slowly, keeping blood sugar levels more even
MYTH: Say goodbye to normal meals, you will have to eat special ‘diabetic meal’.
FACT: Expensive diabetic foods generally offer no special benefit. There is no need to take grief over not being able to dine out with friends and family or at social gatherings. You can easily eat with your family and friends if you eat in moderation and in line with a physician’s recommendations.
MYTH: Diabetes is contagious. You can catch it by touch or sharing food.
FACT: Diabetes is not at all contagious. There seem to be some genetic or hereditary link in diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes. In some cases, lifestyle factors also play a part. So, lower the risk of diabetes by eating healthy and exercising regularly.

(Inputs by health experts from SRL Diagnostics)