Sausage and Bacon Could Mean Diabetes for Native Americans

Processed meats like bacon, hot dogs, and sausages have already been linked to an increased risk of getting diabetes.  Packed with chemicals, they are one of the unhealthiest ways to consume protein, and may also contribute to heart disease and cancer.  Now a new study suggests joining poor eating with racial proclivity could add up to a soaring rate of the disease.

Scientists studied Native Americans, who are known to be more genetically prone to diabetes, trying to find the reason for the growing cases of the disease in Indian Country.  Native Americans, like Asians, Hispanics and blacks, are more likely to get diabetes than whites, especially if they gain weight in later life or have an unhealthier lifestyle.  With diabetes “running” in some families, scientists are convinced there is an inherited factor to the disease.

The study involved 2,000 Native Americans across the southwest and the interesting findings were reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Earlier studies have linked the regular eating of processed meats and even red meats with an increased risk of diabetes.  Processed meats, such as cured bacon, sausages, hot dogs and some canned meats like spam, are manufactured with chemicals like nitrites and nitrates, as well as large amounts of salt and often sugar.  Many people who seek a healthier lifestyle now eschew these sources of protein in favor of low fat and natural meats like chicken, and fish, or become vegetarian or vegan.

The researchers studied 2,000 subjects who were free of diabetes at the outset, and gathered data on what these people ate regularly.  They found that the Native Americans who ate processed meats, and especially spam, were at greater risk of getting diabetes over a five year span.

In the human diet, natural is nearly always best, with many of our western diseases being linked to eating foods that have been stripped of nutrients and processed to within an inch of their lives.  Where our ancestors ate whole grains and bread made from whole grains, 21st century people tend to eat grains that have been industrially milled, removing all nutrients from the grain and leaving empty calories.  Where they ate fresh vegetables and fruit they had often grown themselves, often only minutes from the soil, we rely too heavily on canned or frozen vegetables, or vegetables that have been flown hundreds of miles and treated with preservatives to add “shelf life”.

Our ancestors certainly preserved meats, but usually by salting them just with sodium chloride, or table salt.  Nowadays meat is treated with many different chemicals, notably phosphates to increase water retention and plumpness, and nitrates and nitrites to make it keep longer.

Eating too much meat raises the amount of saturated fat in the diet as well, and healthier ways of getting protein include low fat dairy like yogurt and cottage cheese, fish, skinless poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds and pulses.  Tofu, which is made from soy, is high in protein but has almost no fat.  Vegetable sources of protein also have the advantages of adding minerals, vitamins and fiber to the diet.

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