Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Animal Protein and Diabetes

People in my practice are often diagnosed with adult-onset diabetes and they are usually curious as to how and why they developed it. My answer has been that it is some combination of their genetic heritage and their environment, but that the environment is playing a big role because we have seen a huge increase in the number of cases of diabetes over the last decade.

A recent study showed that people who ate no animal protein were only 25% as likely to develop adult-onset diabetes as those who ate a regular American diet. A close analysis of the data seems to suggest that the finding is robust.

The number of patients in the study was quite high, over 40,000 people. This increases the power of a study to detect small differences, but also makes it much less likely that a given finding of a study is due to chance differences, rather than real differences.

In addition, there are other studies that seem to show the same things. A study in Japanese schoolchildren was particularly interesting. It showed that increased consumption of animal proteins was associated with increased diabetes. This was only correlation and not cause, since the study was retrospective, but it seems to confirm the Loma Linda study's findings.

Also, a study done in Europe, called EPIC showed animal protein consumption was also an independent risk factor for the development of diabetes.

The takeaway message from these three studies on three continents in three very different populations is that we should all try to avoid animal protein to the degree our histories and personalities will allow, unless we want to become diabetic. In addition, it seems to suggest that even people with diabetes stand a good chance of returning their body to normal functioning if they avoid food that tends to cause the disease.

If you have a strong genetic heritage of diabetes, this information should be even more important to you. Feel free to make an appointment at Total Care Family Practice to review your current eating habits and see if we can make significant changes to protect your health.

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