When I was studying nutrition in college almost 20 years ago I was taught that people with diabetes need to consume fewer carbohydrates than the rest of us. Carbs, we were taught, spike glucose levels in diabetics and cause their disease to progress.
Well, that was 20 years ago, and it still isn't working. I've met too many people to count who have tried that, and still find their diabetes to be worsening.
Maybe that's because we're focusing on the wrong thing. At least, that's what today's research shows.
A study published this month in the journal Diabetes Care found that adults who ate the most protein had over twice the risk of becoming diabetic over the 10 years they were tracked. They found vegetable protein to be unrelated to diabetes, but animal protein was.
Which makes so much sense, since animal protein comes with diabetes-causing compounds like cholesterol and saturated fat, which cause cell membranes to become less permeable to insulin and glucose. Population groups who consume the most animal protein (dairy products, eggs, meat, poultry and fish), also tend to have the highest rates of diabetes - and heart disease to boot.
Of course, carbs are still important. High fiber, unprocessed plant-based carbs like fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes (beans, peas, lentils), nut and seeds all need to be consumed on a regular basis, and processed foods limited.
So the recipe for avoiding, or reversing, diabetes? More plant-based foods (like beans, lentils and nuts for protein), and less animal-derived protein. It's just that simple!