Red meat has taken a bashing in recent years. I cannot tell you how often patients tell me proudly that they have dropped red meat from their diet. Some of them are relieved to find out that I am not opposed to red meat consumption. I do advise that pasture-fed and organic meat be chosen instead of commercial red meat.
Our fears about red meat seem to center around two very legitimate concerns-cancer and heart disease. The question is how much of a risk is red meat to our risk of these diseases?
What I find interesting is that we become focused on a food like red meat, which has been consumed by humans for thousands of years, long before cancer and heart disease became problems. Along with Diabetes Type II and Obesity, these are the modern diseases of the twentieth century and have only continued to increase dramatically and alarmingly despite our avoidance of red meat and our being prescribed cholesterol and blood pressure lowering drugs.
Let’s look at the studies. A meta-analysis of studies about red meat show there is no increase risk of cancer or heart disease, even for commercial red meat (from feed-lot cattle). However, there is evidence of risk from processed meats. A meta-analysis means that a large number of relevant studies were analyzed and conclusions were drawn from the analysis. Here is the link to the meta-analysis. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2885952/ Scroll down to bottom for the conclusion.
What is the concern about red meat? First there is concern about carcinogens storing in the fat. But there seems to be no evidence that meat and animal products contain more toxins than vegetarian products like plant-based oils. Some fish contains a high quantity of toxins and other fish does not. So, source may be very important. http://www.westonaprice.org/environmental-toxins/dioxins-in-animal-foods? http://www.westonaprice.org/environmental-toxins/dioxins-in-animal-foods?
The other concern is about saturated fats. But very early cancer research demonstrated that animals fats, including butter, were actually protective of heart and cells, and cancer preventive. Margarines and corn oils were the oils to avoid. We know that cholesterol is made, by the liver, out of starches and sugars and only about 10% is derived from the cholesterol in foods. And in the case of eggs Nature has included lecithin so that the cholesterol is broken down.
So, enjoy red meat, but choose wisely. And you may need some digestive enzymes or extra hydrochloric acid to properly digest the meat. Chew it well, as digestion starts in the mouth with the saliva and signals get sent to the stomach to get ready. There is a reason why red meat smells delicious to us when roasted or barbecued. Our cells can use the nutrients and our ancestors ate meat. We are Omnivores, plant and animal eaters. We need the vital proteins from animal, fish, dairy, nuts and eggs to be strong and fit. If our suppliers would just raise animals wisely, we would not have to worry so much about the source of our food. More on that in future blogs.