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Deeper Dive: Does red meat worsen glycemic control and inflammation?

This meta-analysis suggests that red meat doesn't impact glycemic control or inflammation in healthy adults, at least in the short term.

Study under review: Effects of Total Red Meat Intake on Glycemic Control and Inflammatory Biomarkers: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

Introduction

Red meat intake has been identified through observational studies as a potential risk factor for the development of cardiometabolic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease[1] and diabetes[2]. However, not all studies point toward red meat intake being an independent risk factor, with some studies showing there is minimal to no effect on cardiovascular disease or diabetes[3] in the context of unprocessed red meat. Furthermore, there has been much speculation, but little evidence, as to precisely how red meat intake might increase the risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Some of the proposed mechanisms by which red meat intake may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes is by causing inflammation and negatively affecting glycemic control[4]. However, much of the evidence is observational and inconsistent. In view of the contradictory evidence from highly heterogeneous observational studies, a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials is important for examining the causal impact of red meat intake on glycemic control and inflammation. The present study was a systematic review, meta-analysis, and meta-regression of randomized controlled trials examining the effect of total red meat consumption, including both processed and unprocessed red meat, on glycemic control and inflammation among people without diabetes or diagnosed cardiometabolic diseases.

Red meat intake has been identified as a risk factor for cardiometabolic diseases. One of the proposed mechanisms by which red meat may impart risk is by worsening glycemic control and increasing inflammation. The present study was a systematic review and meta-analysis and meta-regression of randomized controlled trials examining the effects of consuming at least 0.5 servings of red meat per day vs. less than 0.5 servings of red meat per day on biomarkers of glycemic control and inflammation in adults with no reported cardiometabolic disease.

What was studied?

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Other Articles in Issue #80 (June 2021)