Substituting plant protein for animal protein may lower risk of type 2 diabetes

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Scientists from the Guangdong Academy of Medical Sciences and elsewhere found that substituting plant protein for animal protein may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.

More than 37 million Americans have diabetes (about 1 in 10), and approximately 90-95% of them have type 2 diabetes.

Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas that acts like a key to let blood sugar into the cells in your body for use as energy.

If you have type 2 diabetes, cells don’t respond normally to insulin; this is called insulin resistance.

Whether and how dietary protein intake is linked to type 2 diabetes remains unclear.

In the current study, researchers aimed to examine the associations of protein intake with the development of type 2 diabetes and the potential roles of type 2 diabetes biomarkers.

The team used data from more than 100,000 older women without type 2 diabetes at the beginning from the Women’s Health Initiative and more than 34,000 adults without type 2 diabetes from the U.K. Biobank.

They found that in the Women’s Health Initiative, there were 15,842 types 2 diabetes cases during a follow-up of almost 16 years.

Intake of animal protein was linked to an increased type 2 diabetes risk and plant protein decreased risk.

Intakes of red meat, processed meat, poultry, and eggs were linked to increased type 2 diabetes risk, and whole grains with decreased risk. Findings from the U.K. Biobank were similar.

The team also found these effects were reduced after adjustment for body mass index, or BMI.

They found substituting 5% energy from plant protein for animal protein was linked to a 21% decreased type 2 diabetes risk.

Based on the findings, the researchers suggest that substituting plant protein for animal protein may decrease type 2 diabetes risk mainly by reducing obesity-related inflammation.

The research was published in Diabetes Care and conducted by Jie Li et al.

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