Red Meat: Good or Bad?

There remains a strong bias against the consumption of red meat in published dietary guidelines. The evidence supporting claims of increased risk of cancer or heart disease remains very weak and suggests at most a 1% absolute risk increase based on very weak evidence. Significant factors are almost universally ignored in the analysis. These include:

1. Use of hormones in raising animals

2. Grass fed and grass finished vs grain fed- feedlot fattened animals

3. Use of antibiotics

4. Methods of cooking

5. Processed-refined meats with added sugars/preservatives vs fresh or frozen unprocessed meats.

6. Confounding factors such as smoking, exercise, and other lifestyle factors

7. Poor accuracy of dietary questionnaires

8. Poor study design.

9. Residual pesticides in animals passed through feedlots.

These considerations are all important in determining the health benefits of consuming animal fat and protein. The 1% absolute risk increase discussed above relates to consuming meat raised in the typical US fashion. That includes the regular use of hormones, antibiotics, and feedlot conditions. Feedlot conditions dramatically change the fatty acid content of beef to a less healthy mix. I do not consume meat that passed through feedlots.

Prior to WWII, meat and poultry were raised without hormones, without antibiotics. They were pastured and free range. Ruminants ate grasses not grains, which cause gastro-intestinal problems in ruminants. Poultry ate bugs, grass, seeds in an open air environment. Crowded disease causing conditions were not prevalent in animal husbandry. Today things are different and one would be wise to make their consumption choices speak for healthier sources of animal protein and fat.

I have always advocated for avoiding animal foods raised with indiscriminate use of antibiotics and hormones, animals raised in crowded unsanitary conditions, ruminants (beef, lamb) fed grains, etc.

But beyond those considerations, unprocessed red meat provides an abundance of important nutrients vital to health.

A discussion of the bias that underlies many dietary guidelines is covered in a brief and informative video:

I have previously discussed the false narrative about environmental concerns related to beef, recommending the book and documentary by the same name, SACRED COW.

You can read that here.

Dr. Georgia Ede addresses the issue of red meat in many of her talks. Here is one.

She has also posted a discussion of brain health and animal fat.

And she has debunked the concept that meat causes cancer.

In the context of the COVID 19 pandemic I will close with the usual summary.

  1. Avoid alcohol consumption (alcohol wreaks havoc with your immunity)
  2. Get plenty of sleep (without adequate sleep your immune system does not work well )
  3. Follow good sleep habits
  4. Exercise, especially out of doors in a green space, supports the immune system
  5. Get some sunshine and make sure you have adequate Vitamin D levels. Supplement with Vitamin D3 to get your levels above 30 ng/ml. (read this Open Letter)
  6. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet rich in micronutrients.
  7. Practice stress reduction like meditation and yoga which improves the immune system
  8. Eliminate sugar-added foods and beverages from your diet. These increase inflammation, cause metabolic dysfunction, and suppress immunity.
  9. Eliminate refined-inflammatory “vegetable oils” from your diet, instead eat healthy fat.
  10. Clean up your home environment and minimize your family’s exposure to environmental toxins by following recommendations at EWG.org with regards to household products, personal care products, and organic foods. (https://www.ewg.org/)
  11. If you are over age 12 and eligible for vaccination, consider protecting yourself and your neighbor with vaccination.

THIS WEBSITE PROVIDES INFORMATION FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. CONSULT YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER FOR MEDICAL ADVICE.

Eat clean, drink filtered water, love, laugh, exercise outdoors in a greenspace, get some morning sunlight, block the blue light before bed, engage in meaningful work, find a sense of purpose, spend time with those you love, AND sleep well tonight.

Doctor Bob

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