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There are many factors that can increase one's risk for diabetes, including a diet high in carbohydrates. New findings, however, reveal that a high dietary acid load with frequent meat consumption, is also a significant risk factor.

Most people know that a diet high in carbohydrates or sugar increases their risk for developing diabetes. Diabetes mellitus or type II diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by high blood sugar levels, which can lead to various health complications. 

New studies reveal, however, that a higher dietary acid load, regardless of individual type of foods making up the diet, increases the risk of developing type II diabetes.

Factors that Increase Diabetes Risk

In 2011, it was estimated that about 8% of the US population has diabetes. This includes almost 26 million adults and children, but not counting another 79 million people who have a condition called prediabetes. Prediabetes is a condition where one has blood sugar levels that are higher than the normal range but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.

Experts cannot fully explain why some people develop diabetes. There several factors that have been associated with the condition, including one's family history, race and age. Aside from these, overweight and obesity, lack of exercise, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol and triglyceride levels have been known to increase one's risk for diabetes.

Meals that are high in carbohydrates can make blood sugar levels rise. The pancreas releases a hormone, called insulin, which helps transport glucose (sugar) from your blood into the cells, which convert it to energy. People who have diabetes have been found to be resistant to the effects of insulin, resulting in glucose not being used up by the cells, and remaining in the blood. The pancreas produces more insulin, but not enough to reduce sugar levels in the blood, resulting in diabetes.

New Findings

In search for more knowledge about what factors increase the likelihood of developing diabetes, French researchers examined the diets of more than 66,000 women ages 46-60 over a period of 14 years. The investigators, led by Guy Fagherazzi, PhD, from Gustave Roussy Institute in Villejuif, France found that dietary acids may play a significant role in the development of diabetes. Foods that increase the dietary acid load include meat, fish, bread, cheese, and artificially sweetened beverages. These foods are characteristic of a "Western" dietary pattern, which is high in animal products and other acid-producing foods.

The study showed that women who typically consumed a Western-style diet were more than 50% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes compared to those who ate more fruits and vegetables, dairy products, and coffee.

The researchers also found that these associations persisted regardless of other known risk factors for diabetes. For instance, women who were of normal body weight but consumed a high acid diet were at a higher risk for diabetes than those who were overweight. However, there is no evidence of causality or direct relationship between this particular pattern of eating and diabetes, since the data also showed that study participants who ate high acid foods were also more likely to have other risk factors such as obesity, inactivity, and positive family history.

Yet, it is worthwhile to consider how modifying our diet can improve our chances of fighting against a growing problem.

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