Higher intakes of meat and wheat in diets have been found to be associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes in women.
Researchers from the Centre for research in Epidemiology and Population Health in France studied 66,485 women and analysed their diets by assessing the Potential Renal Acid Load (PRAL). After 14 years, the women were reviewed and new cases of type 2 diabetes were recorded. Potential Renal Acid Load (PRAL) is an index used to grade how much of an acidifying or alkalising effect that different foods have on the body once digested.
The results found that women that were in the top 25% of the highest PRAL values had a 56% increased likelihood of developing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes compared with those in the lowest 25% of PRAL values.
When the researchers divided the women by BMI, the results showed that the effects of an acidic diet had a more startling difference on women with a normal BMI (25 or under) than those that were overweight (BMI over 25). In women with a BMI of 25 or under, participants in the highest quartile (top 25%) of PRAL were 96% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those in the lowest quartile. By comparison, women with a BMI of over 25 in the highest quartile of PRAL were 28% more likely to develop diabetes.
It should be noted that likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes is still greater with a higher BMI but that high renal acid load appears to be particularly associated when type 2 diabetes occurs in women of a normal weight.
A high potential renal acid load, termed as chronic acidosis, is known to have the effect of reducing insulin sensitivity and therefore raising the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Foods listed as increasing Potential Renal Acid Load include meat, dairy products, fish and foods made from wheat flour. Contrary to intuitio, fruits which contain citric acid do not lead to increased renal acid load and instead have an alkalising effect, as do vegetables.

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