Foods to avoid if you want to lower your type 2 diabetes risk – study

“You are what you eat” might just seem like a glib saying but mounting evidence over the years has suggested there is some truth behind it. Of course, it is widely accepted that a healthy, balanced diet packed with fruits and vegetables is most beneficial to our wellbeing. However, there are certain types of foods that scientists also believe should be avoided or eaten in very small doses.

Ultra-processed foods are one such food type to come under scrutiny in recent years.

These are foods that have been highly altered, often containing a lot of added salt, sugar, fat, and industrial chemical additives such as preservatives, emulsifiers, sweeteners, and artificial colours and flavours.

A rough guide to knowing if a food is ultra-processed is if it constrains five or more ingredients.

According to the British Heart Foundation, examples of ultra-processed foods include:

  • Ice cream
  • Ham
  • Sausages
  • Crisps
  • Mass-produced bread
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Biscuits
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Fruit-flavoured yoghurts
  • Instant soups
  • Some alcoholic drinks, including whisky, gin, and rum.

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Now a study has warned that a diet high in ultra-processed food could put you at greater risk of type 2 diabetes.

The research, published in Diabetes Care journal, analysed data on almost 200,000 people split into three cohorts.

It found that for every 10 percent of ultra-processed food in the diet their type 2 diabetes risk was raised by 12 percent.

The study, carried out by university academics in the US, Canada and Brazil, explained some of the specific foods associated with this risk.

It said: “Among subgroups, refined breads; sauces, spreads, and condiments; artificially and sugar-sweetened beverages; animal-based products; and ready-to-eat mixed dishes were associated with higher type 2 diabetes risk.

“Cereals; dark and whole-grain breads; packaged sweet and savoury snacks; fruit-based products; and yoghurt and dairy-based desserts were associated with lower type 2 diabetes risk.

“In the meta-analysis, each 10 percent increment in total UPF was associated with a 12 percent higher risk.

“Per NutriGrade [a nutritional scoring system], high-quality evidence supports this relationship.”

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The study concluded: “High-quality meta-evidence shows that total ultra processed food consumption is associated with higher type 2 diabetes risk.

“However, some ultra processed food subgroups were associated with lower risk in the US cohorts.”

Diabetes is a serious medical condition that causes a person’s blood sugar levels to become too high.

It is not known exactly what causes type 1 diabetes but type 2 is often linked to being overweight or inactive.

Diabetes can be dangerous and raise your risk of complications such as heart attacks, strokes, kidney problems and nerve damage.

Patients are also vulnerable to certain acute complications like diabetic ketoacidosis, which can be life threatening.

This study comes after research published in the British Medical Journal in 2022 found a link between eating ultra processed foods and bowel cancer.

And a separate paper, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine also in 2022, concluded that ultra processed foods were a “significant’ cause of premature deaths in Brazil.

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