Meat, But Not Sugar, Increased the Risk of Type 2 diabetes

Most of the peo­ple I talk to seem to think that they’d be health­i­er if they ate less car­bo­hy­drate. Most of them seem con­vinced that a high-car­bo­hy­drate diet makes peo­ple fat. They know that if you eat starch, it gets bro­ken down into sug­ar. They know that when sug­ar flows into your blood­stream, your pan­creas is sup­posed to release insulin to enable the sug­ar to enter your cells, where it can be burned for ener­gy. That part’s true. How­ev­er, they think that if you eat a lot of sug­ar or starch, you’ll some­how wear out your body’s abil­i­ty to make or respond to insulin and thus you’ll end up dia­bet­ic. They couldn’t be more wrong. In real­i­ty, a high-carb, low-fat diet cures the most com­mon type of dia­betes.

If eat­ing a starchy, low-fat diet made peo­ple fat and caused dia­betes, then we’d see lots of fat, dia­bet­ic peo­ple in pop­u­la­tions that eat a starchy, low-fat diet. We don’t. Instead, we see that the peo­ple of Chi­na and Japan, whose diet is based heav­i­ly on rice and veg­eta­bles, tend to be slim and remark­ably free of dia­betes and heart dis­ease. We see the same thing in oth­er pop­u­la­tions that base their diets on oth­er starchy sta­ples. For exam­ple, the indige­nous peo­ple of Peru eat a diet based heav­i­ly on pota­toes. The Tarahu­mara of Mex­i­co eat main­ly corn and beans. The peo­ple in the New Guinea High­lands eat prac­ti­cal­ly noth­ing but sweet pota­toes. The sto­ry is the same wher­ev­er we look. In real­i­ty, the pop­u­la­tions that eat low-fat, starchy, high-fiber diets are thin and healthy. The peo­ple who eat lots of fat­ty ani­mal-based foods are the ones at risk for obe­si­ty, dia­betes, and heart dis­ease.

If eat­ing a lot of sug­ar caused dia­betes, then the peo­ple who eat the most sug­ar would be more like­ly than the aver­age per­son to devel­op dia­betes. On the con­trary, a study of near­ly 40,000 women age 45 and old­er in the Unit­ed States found that the women who were eat­ing the most sug­ar were no more like­ly to get dia­betes than the ones who were eat­ing the least sug­ar [1]. The women who were most like­ly to get dia­betes were the ones who were eat­ing the most meat! [2]

Ref­er­ence List

  1. Jan­ket SJ, Man­son JE, Ses­so H, Bur­ing JE, Liu S. A prospec­tive study of sug­ar intake and risk of type 2 dia­betes in women. Dia­betes Care 2003;26:1008–1015.
  2. Song Y, Man­son JE, Bur­ing JE, Liu S. A prospec­tive study of red meat con­sump­tion and type 2 dia­betes in mid­dle-aged and elder­ly women: the women’s health study. Dia­betes Care 2004;27:2108–2115.

For more infor­ma­tion about dia­betes, see my book Thin Dia­betes, Fat Dia­betes: Pre­vent Type 1, Cure Type 2.

Thin Diabetes, Fat Diabetes: Prevent Type 1, Cure Type 2

2 thoughts on “Meat, But Not Sugar, Increased the Risk of Type 2 diabetes”

  1. The find­ings that con­nect­ed night-shift work to dia­betes came from analy­sis of the Nurs­es Health Study. The some­what high­er rate of dia­betes seemed to be main­ly the result of high­er body weight in the women who had worked the night shift for many years. We know that high­er body weight increas­es the risk of type 2 dia­betes, because type 2 dia­betes rep­re­sents the body’s attempt to resist fur­ther weight gain. We also know that the par­tic­i­pants in the Nurs­es’ Health Study tend­ed to eat a lot of meat and fat. The study didn’t show whether night shift work was asso­ci­at­ed with dia­betes in coun­tries where peo­ple eat a low-fat diet. We could improve the health of hos­pi­tal nurs­es by pro­vid­ing cheap or free, health­ful food to them through hos­pi­tal cafe­te­rias. This would prob­a­bly be par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant for work­ers on the night shift.

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