Red Meat Linked to Blood Sugar Concerns

A balanced diet, along with exercise and a healthy lifestyle, can be the best way to help you manage your blood sugar and avoid spikes. However, determining what a good diet is can be tricky. New studies change how we view food all the time.

Medical opinions change on red meat all the time. While doctors agree that heavily processed meats like bacon are unhealthy and raise the risk of cancer and other chronic illnesses, red meat generally falls in and out of favor. We have written both pro and con articles about red meat. We’ve also shared recipes for red meat. It’s essential to remember that the jury is still out on the full health impacts of it. Our usual rule is that all foods can be enjoyed in moderation.

A new study claims that one serving of red meat a week should be your limit to lessen your risk of worsening your blood sugar concerns. Researchers from Harvard said that just two servings of red meat weekly raised the risk of blood sugar concerns. Moreover, the more red meat a person eats, the worse their risk becomes.

Our findings strongly support dietary guidelines that recommend limiting the consumption of red meat, and this applies to both processed and unprocessed red meat,” said first author Dr. Xiao Gu of Harvard.  

The study gave 216,695 people food surveys every couple of years for up to 36 years. Over the course of the study, 22,000 developed blood sugar concerns. People who ate the most red meat were 62 percent more likely to develop a serious blood sugar concern. Servings of processed red meat raised a person’s risk by 46 percent, while unprocessed red meat was linked to a 24 percent higher risk.

If you are someone with a minor blood sugar concern, cutting back on red meat could be a way to help prevent your concern from becoming more serious. If blood sugar concerns run in your family, this could be vital information to share with your family. More research is needed to know how red meat impacts people who already have a serious blood sugar concern. But eating less red meat might be a way to make blood sugar more manageable.

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,” said senior author Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition.

Individuals who have a higher intake of red meat are also more likely to have lower intakes of healthy fats that may promote good insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake,” said registered dietician Ellen Liskov of Yale New Haven Hospital. She was not involved with the study.

A 2018 study from Harvard found that people who ate animal protein cooked at high temperatures or over an open flame have a 1.5 times higher risk of developing serious blood sugar concerns. Cooking meat at high temperatures can produce chemicals that reduce insulin sensitivity, increase inflammation and are carcinogenic. It might be that this study reflects that — the temperature at which we cook red meat might be the problem.

Eating more protein from plants and less from red meat may prevent blood sugar concerns from becoming more serious or help you manage them. While you don’t have to give up eating red meat altogether, cutting back may aid your blood sugar!

Banner image: Leonardo Carvalho via Unsplash

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