More than 100 million people in India have diabetes, a study by the Indian Council of Medical Research revealed in June. In 2019, the number was 70 million. Currently, diabetes is a global burden and researchers have been looking at ways to stabilise the numbers. A new study suggests switching to plant protein as eating more than one weekly serving of red meat may increase type 2 diabetes risk.
The study, led by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, showed that people who eat just two servings of red meat per week may have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who eat fewer servings. Notably, the risk increases with greater consumption, the university’s press statement reveals.
“Our findings strongly support dietary guidelines that recommend limiting the consumption of red meat, and this applies to both processed and unprocessed red meat,” first author Xiao Gu said in the statement.
For the study, the researchers analysed health data from 216,695 participants. The findings, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that those who ate the most red meat had a 62% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who ate the least. Furthermore, every additional daily serving of processed red meat came with a 46% greater risk.
A main concern for many meat lovers is finding an alternative protein source. The study suggests swapping red meat with a serving of nuts and legumes, which was associated with a 30% lower risk of type 2 diabetes, or with a serving of dairy products, which was linked to a 22% lower risk.
“Given our findings and previous work by others, a limit of about one serving per week of red meat would be reasonable for people wishing to optimize their health and wellbeing,” senior author Walter Willett said in the statement. Along with health benefits, switching to red meat could also reduce greenhouse emissions, the researchers added.
Previous studies have shown how eating unchecked amounts of red meat could be linked to health risks. In June, a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), showed that consumption of red meat and sugar could be associated with the development of colorectal cancer in younger age groups, as reported by Medical News Today.