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Artificial Food Additives Linked to an Increased Risk of Type-2 Diabetes

Updated on April 30, 2015

Copyright 2012, Kris Heeter Ph.D.

More bad news for hot dog, bacon and sausage lovers worldwide...

Research has indicated that meat, particularly red meat, is linked to not only an increased risk of heart disease but to an increased risk of diabetes as well.

While the link to heart disease it really kind of old news, the link to diabetes is now taking center stage.

Several recent scientific studies suggest that processed meats, in particular, are associated with a greater increased risk of diabetes.

Unprocessed vs. Processed Red Meats

In a study published in August, 2011, in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN), researchers reported they found that a daily serving of unprocessed red meat was associated with a 19% relative increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.

An even greater risk was found in those individuals that ate processed red meats. Just one daily serving of processed meat (e.g., one hot dog, one sausage, or two slices of bacon) was associated with a 51% increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Artificial Food Additives in Processed Red Meats Linked to Diabetes

The AJCN study, as well as a study just released online from Diabetes Care (through the American Diabetes Association), suggests that it is most likely the sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite food additives in processed red meats that contribute to the significant increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.

This falls in line with a study published a few years ago that found nitrate and nitrite food additives were linked to increased risk of Type 1 diabetes in Finnish children.

Substitutions for Processed Meats Can Lower Type-2 Diabetes Risk

The AJCN study estimates that the substitution of just one serving of nuts or whole grains per day for one serving of red meat can lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes by 16–35%.

With respect to nuts, raw and unsalted nuts are better choices than roasted and salted, if one has a choice. Roasting can destroy many of the beneficial phytochemicals and nutrients.

Examples of whole grains:

  • Whole grain rice
  • Quinoa
  • Millet
  • Spelt
  • Barley
  • Oats
  • Wheat
  • Rye

For those that have a hard time making these substitutions, some processed red meats can be found without the sodium nitrate and nitrite food additives and preservatives. Natural food stores, food co-ops, and local farmers will often sell sausage, ham, and bacon without food additives. If these additives have NOT been used, it typically is noted that on the packaging.

For Information On Unsafe Food Additives and Synthetic Dyes

Sodium nitrate and sodium nitrate are just two out of thousands of food additives used in food processing. Most artificial and synthetic food additives have not been tested for long-term health consequences before they go to market.

While some food additives have been used for decades and seem to be relatively safe, there is a growing list of additives that research studies have identified as potentially toxic and that can increase the risk of a number of diseases. Many of these additives and food dyes are still on the market.

You can check out these additional hubs for more information:

"Artificial and Synthetic Food Additives and Dyes - Tested and Safe?"

"HVP - a toxic food additive - is it in your food?"

"Toxic Substance in Plastics Also Found In Numerous Medicines and Supplements"

More on diabetes:

"What Do Diabetes and Mental Illness Have in Common?"

Sample References to Related Research Studies

Pan et al. (2011) Red meat consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: 3 cohorts of US adults and an updated meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr doi: 10.3945/​ajcn.111.018978

Virtanen et al. (2009) Nitrate and Nitrite Intake and the Risk for Type 1 Diabetes in Finnish Children. Diabetic Medicine. DOI: 10.1111/j.1464-5491.1994.tb00328.x


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    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 6 years ago from Indiana

      @jandee - yes, I agree! And sadly some of these chemicals can contribute the other health problems besides diabetes. Exposing our kids to this many at such a young age is really sad.

    • jandee profile image

      jandee 6 years ago from Liverpool.U.K

      I bet school meals are packed with additives.Thanks for more info.


    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 6 years ago from Indiana

      @lorenmurcia - thanks for stopping by. I'm sure there are actually whole courses taught on this at the university level in Food Sciences. And I'm sure here has to be a lot of R & D money goes into testing by individual companies to to see what can enhance the flavor to make consumers want it more!

    • lorenmurcia profile image

      lorenmurcia 6 years ago

      And to think that we, Science teachers, teach about food additives to our students! Guess we really have to caution them more from using excessive additives and enhancers.

    • Jeff May profile image

      Jeffrey Penn May 6 years ago from St. Louis

      Informative. I recommend "Eat to Live" by Joel Fuhrman, for related info.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      There are scary statistics in your hub, Kris. Thank you for sharing this important information about the link between red meat and Type 2 diabetes.

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 6 years ago from Indiana

      @JimmieWriter - I completely agree! It's all become a big business and all about convenience and taste. Sadly major $$ go into creating tasty food additives that get kids and adults hooked on processed foods.

    • JimmieWriter profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 6 years ago from Memphis, TN USA

      It disturbs me greatly that the least healthy foods (hot dogs, nuggets) are commonly given to children. What are we doing to ourselves?

    • Pcunix profile image

      Tony Lawrence 6 years ago from SE MA

      We used to worry about sawdust in food.. Gosh, that was dangerous!