Acidic Foods like Meat, Cheese and Soft Drinks Increase Diabetes Risk

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By Roshni Mahesh | November 12, 2013 7:29 PM EST

Eating more acid-forming foods can increase the risk of diabetes, new research shows.

The study published in the journal Diabetologia looked at 66,485 French women and found that regular consumption of acid-promoting foods like meat, bread, cheese and fish increased the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Increased acid levels in the blood can affect body's metabolism and reduce insulin sensitivity. For the study, Dr Guy Fagherazzi and Dr Françoise Clavel-Chapelon from the INSERM medical research institute in Paris followed the eating habits of the women for 14 years. The dietary acid consumption among the participants was measured and recorded. The dietary acid load of the women was calculated using two methods - potential renal acid load or PRAL (a method used to calculate the effects of a diet on the acidity of urine) and net endogenous acid production.

Nearly 1,372 women in the study were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Prevalence of diabetes was more common among women who consumed more animal protein and fatty foods like soft drinks, bread, meat and fish. Researchers said that women who received a potential renal acid load score at the top 25 percent had a 56 percent increased risk of developing diabetes than the others. Another interesting finding was the link between weight, acidic food intake and diabetes. The risk of developing diabetes was comparatively high among women with a normal weight (96 percent) than overweight women (28 percent).

Interestingly, the researchers found that some foods, particularly fruits that are normally considered as highly acidic, helped prevent severe effects of consuming animal products. "A diet rich in animal protein may favour net acid intake, while most fruits and vegetables form alkaline precursors that neutralise the acidity," the authors said in a news release. "Contrary to what is generally believed, most fruits such as peaches, apples, pears, bananas and even lemons and oranges actually reduce dietary acid load once the body has processed them."

Type 1 diabetes occurs when pancreatic cells (produce hormone insulin that regulates blood sugar in the body) are destroyed by the immune system of the body. Type 1 diabetes requires daily insulin injections to survive. In Type 2 diabetes, body develops resistance to insulin. Type 2 diabetes normally affects people aged 40 or above. According to a 2012 report, nearly 62 million Indians are diabetic and nearly 44 lakh Indians, aged between 20 and 79 are unaware that they are diabetic. The disease claimed nearly 10 lakh lives in 2011.  If left untreated or undiagnosed, the disease can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases (strokes, heart attack), cause damages to the kidney, eye, nerve, foot; and lead to deadly diseases like cancer and brain disorders like Alzheimer's disease. 

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