Animal products like steak are thought to increase the acid load of a diet (Photo: Peter Pearson/Flickr)
Every November 14, the International Diabetes Federation celebrates World Diabetes Day, and according to the IDF, 382 million people have diabetes around the world, with the number of people with type 2 diabetes on the rise in every country. Fatty diets, sedentary lifestyles and, paradoxically, increases in life expectancy are all blamed for the spread of the disease. A new study out of France suggests another reason it might be on the rise: dietary acid load.
The study followed the diets of more than 66,000 women in Europe for 14 years, during which time almost 1,400 of the women were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Even when controlling for other factors, the researchers found that women with a high-acid diet had a 56 per cent higher risk of developing the disease.
"We have demonstrated for the first time in a large prospective study that dietary acid load was positively associated with type 2 diabetes risk, independently of other known risk factors for diabetes," Dr. Guy Fagherazzi and Dr. Françoise Clavel-Chapelon wrote in a paper published this week in the journal Diabetologia. Diets with lots of animal products like meat and dairy tend to increase the overall acid intake, whereas fruits and veggies, while they may seem acidic, tend to neutralize acidity, according to Medscape.
The implications on what you should eat, however, are not totally clear.
"There is a much stronger causal connection between the consumption of high glycemic foods — for example, sugar and refined carbohydrates — and the development of type 2 diabetes," Christopher Ochner, the director of research, development and administration at the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center in New York City, told HealthDay. "Further, the health and potential weight-controlling benefits of foods like fish, legumes and whole grains likely far outweigh any potential increase in risk associated with these foods due to acid production when they are digested."
To reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends Canadians eat a balanced diet that's high in fibre and low in fat and salt, with five to 10 fruits and vegetables each day.
One final side note: November 14 was chosen as the date for World Diabetes Day because it's also the birthday of Dr. Frederick Banting, who shared the Nobel Prize in 1923 for his work developing insulin. Check out this post for more on the story behind that Nobel Prize, Canada's first.