Acid rich diet a factor in increased type 2 diabetes risk

by Barbara Hewitt on November 18, 2013

An acid rich diet with lots of meat, animal products and wheat can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, research shows.

A new study undertaken at the Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health in Paris, France, is the first to show that higher dietary acid is associated with the condition.


Fruits such as peaches, apples, pears, bananas and even lemons and oranges can reduce dietary acid load

The team looked at more than 66,000 women and found that the higher overall acidity of the diet, regardless of the individual foods making up that diet, increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.

The results, published in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD,) and by Dr Guy Fagherazzi and Dr Françoise Clavel-Chapelon, concludes that a western diet rich in animal products and other acidogenic foods can induce an acid load that is not compensated for by fruit and vegetables and this can cause chronic metabolic acidosis and lead to metabolic complications.

Most importantly from a blood sugar control perspective, increasing acidosis can reduce the ability of insulin to bind at appropriate receptors in the body, and reduce insulin sensitivity. With this in mind, the authors decided to analyse whether increased acidosis caused by dietary acid loads increased the risk of type 2 diabetes.

A total of 66,485 women from the E3N study, a well-known ongoing epidemiological study by the French Centre of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition, were followed for new diabetes cases over 14 years.

Their dietary acid load was calculated from their potential renal acid load (PRAL) and their net endogenous acid production (NEAP) scores, both standard techniques for assessing dietary acid consumption from nutrient intake.

During follow up, 1,372 new cases of type 2 diabetes occurred. In the overall population, those in the top 25% for PRAL had a 56% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared with the bottom quartile. Women of normal weight (BMI of 25 and under) had the highest increased risk at 96% for top quartile versus bottom, while overweight women (BMI 25 and over) had only a 28% increased risk (top quartile versus bottom.)

‘A diet rich in animal protein may favour net acid intake, while most fruits and vegetables form alkaline precursors that neutralise the acidity. Contrary to what is generally believed, most fruits such as peaches, apples, pears, bananas and even lemons and oranges actually reduce dietary acid load once the body has processed them,’ the research report says.

‘In our study, the fact that the association between both PRAL and NEAP scores and the risk of incident type 2 diabetes persisted after adjustment for dietary patterns, meat consumption and intake of fruit, vegetables, coffee and sweetened beverages suggests that dietary acids may play a specific role in promoting the development of type 2 diabetes, irrespective of the foods or drinks that provide the acidic or alkaline components,’ it explains.

‘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. 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. Further research is required on the underlying mechanisms,’ it concludes.

Foods listed as increasing PRAL include meat, dairy products, fish and foods made from wheat flour. As the study points out, contrary to intuition, fruits which contain citric acid do not lead to increased renal acid load and instead have an alkalizing effect, as do vegetables.




The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ian November 21, 2013 at 5:48 pm

Interesting article, I have type 2, am 45yrs old, little overweight and was averaging between 12 and 18 in my blood tests each morning. I have only had type 2 for a year and a half and am on 2 normal tablets to help.

The reason I’m commenting on this article as 2 weeks ago I went an all protein diet to cut out carbs and sugars and walking 5 days a week for at least a 1/2hour and am now getting readins of 6.4 and 6.7 in my blood tests. I suppose what works for some dosen’t always work for others. Just seems like contridictary info against my own experience, but certainly hope it helps others. Also going back on fruit and minimum carbs this week so will be interesting what ranges my bloods stay in.


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