Red meat and type 2 diabetes correlation and side effects

We live in an era of fast food and processed foods which increases the risk of many diseases, especially diabetes, cancer, and heart diseases. Diabetes mellitus is one of the biggest modern day problems and we can say that it is the biggest lifestyle related issue that many of us are facing. This disease is significantly affected by the food that we eat. One of the many foods which increase the risk of Diabetes is red meat. 

What is red meat?

Meats of adult cows, sheep, goats, horses, goose, etc. are examples of red meat while meats of rabbit, calves, chicken, etc. are considered white. 

Studies prove that red meat and processed red meat increases the chances of diabetes 

  • A recent Harvard study reports a strong association between eating red meat and increased risk of type 2 diabetes. They also observed significantly reduced risk of diabetes when meat was substituted with whole grains, low-fat dairy, and nuts. 
  • Another large study on more than 400000 participants observed an increased risk of diabetes. It shows that by 19% on daily consumption of 100 grams of red meat increase diabetes risk. However, the risk increased by 51% when one consumed as little as 50 grams of processed red meat.  The researchers also found that substituting one serving of nuts per day was associated with a 21% lower risk of type 2 diabetes. And substituting low-fat dairy, a 17% lower risk. Substituting red meat with whole grains, a 23% lower risk. 

Other harmful side effects of red meat

1. Red meat increases obesity

Red meat naturally increases the risk of obesity. As there is a high content of fat, especially if the meat is not separated from the overlying fat. It was observed in a study that vegetarians had a lower BMI (Body Mass Index) compared to non-vegetarians.

2. Red meat increases the risk of cancers

Red meat is implicated to increase the risk of cancers like colorectal cancer which is increased in barbecue and grilled meat. A 2011 study published in the British Journal of cancer on 17000 individuals found a 56 %   increased risk of colorectal cancer on the consumption of grilled meat and 59 % increased risk on the consumption of well-done meat. Other cancers caused would be breast, stomach, esophageal, endometrial, pancreatic, lung, etc.

3. Taking excess red meat also causes heart disease

Regarding heart disease, there is an increased risk as observed by the same Harvard study mentioned above. The study also observed an increased risk of coronary artery disease (heart disease) by 49 % on consumption of 100 grams of unprocessed per day. It has been postulated that increased serum cholesterol could be the reason behind heart diseases and stroke. Cholesterol deposits in the blood vessels of the heart and brain and blocks them leading to heart disease and stroke respectively. Red meat contains saturated fat, homocysteine, etc which increases the blood cholesterol levels.

Hence it is important to reduce the amount of red meat in the diet especially those following a western diet and substituting with nuts, white meat, whole grain, fruits, etc. can reduce the risk significantly. It’s not necessary to be vegan but reducing to an occasional weekend barbeque would be enough for starters…


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