Processed Foods and Type 2 Diabetes

By Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN and Reviewed by Robert Ehrman, MD

Processed foods are everywhere and they are popular for a reason: They are quick and easy to eat. But there is a catch: They may increase your type 2 diabetes risk.

Processed foods are dried, frozen, or have certain chemicals or preservatives added to them. This can make them:

  • longer-lasting in stores and in your home.
  • easier to prepare and eat.

Higher amounts of sugar, salt, and other preservatives are sometimes added to processed foods and these additives may increase your diabetes risk.

Some examples include:

  • Frozen dinners
  • Boxed pasta meals made with refined white flour instead of whole grains
  • Soda or other sugary drinks
  • Canned foods
  • Sugary breakfast cereals
  • Processed meats such as hot dogs, sausage, bologna, ham, or packaged lunch meats
  • Packaged cakes and cookies
  • Packages snack foods such as chips or crackers.

Recent studies have found that women with higher acid levels in their blood were two- thirds more at risk of type 2 diabetes than other women.  High acid levels are linked to eating processed foods.

Other study findings include:

  • Women who ate more fruits and veggies were less likely to get type 2 diabetes, since they balanced the amount of acid in their blood.
  • Both overweight and normal weight women showed a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes when they ate foods that caused high acid levels.
  • High acid levels may prevent insulin from working properly. This may lead to high blood glucose and diabetes.

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