Cutting down on meat and dairy in your diet could slash the risk of developing diabetes by up to 50 per cent, scientists have claimed.
In a 14-year study of tens of thousands of women by the Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health in Paris, researchers discovered that animal products such as meat, cheese and egg yolks trigger stomach acids linked to the disease. Meanwhile fruits such as lemons and oranges worked to knock out the acids before they harmed the body's metabolism, suggesting a fruit and vegetable-packed diet could prevent type 2 diabetes.
Excess acid can lead to complications within the metabolic system, which in turn can reduce the body's ability to regulate insulin levels.
Some fruits are perceived to be highly acidic, but in fact fruit and vegetables have negative Pral values - meaning the potential impact of foods on kidney and urine acid levels while meat has a Pral value of as much as 13.2, cheese 26.8 and fish 10.8.
And the study revealed that women with a high renal acid load (Pral) score had a 56 per cent greater risk of developing diabetes than those with a low score.
According to the Daily Express, Dr Francoise Clavel-Chapelon, whose study was published in the journal Diabetologia, said: "Our study suggests that dietary acids may play a specific role in promoting the development of type 2 diabetes.
"We have demonstrated for the first time in a large prospective study that dietary acid load was positively associated with type 2 diabetes risk, independently of other known risk factors for diabetes."
She added: "Our results need to be validated in other populations, and may lead to promotion of diets with a low acid load for the prevention of diabetes."
Dr Richard Elliott of Diabetes UK agreed that further studies were needed, and added that maintaining "a healthy weight and getting plenty of exercise", along with a well-balanced diet, is the best way to avoid developing the disease.
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