By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
January 29, 2018
- There’s nothing wrong with including meat in your diet
- How much meat should you eat?
- 6 ways to slash meat intake without sacrifice
There is no doubt that fruits and vegetables are good for you. I just wrote about all of the great health benefits they offer in the January 26th issue of Advanced Natural Wellness.
But that has left a few meat-lovers grumbling at me. “Doc! What do you have against meat!” they exclaim. Most people who don’t eat animal protein do so because of personal issues surrounding the ethics of it as well personal health issues, for example their cardiovascular health a la the Ornish diet.
The truth is (and despite popular belief) I don’t actually have a problem with meat. I’m just as likely to enjoy a sensible sized portion of juicy steak as the next guy. However, I do have an issue with meat that comes from
commercial farm animals who are raised on GMO feed and pumped full of antibiotics and hormones.
First of all, I don’t like the idea of eating meat that may be contaminated with DNA from genetically altered feed. While it’s largely up for debate, some research shows that these DNA fragments can enter the human circulatory system. And who knows what sort of havoc they’ll wreak once they get there.
Secondly is the concept of eating antibiotics in my food. Believe it or not, it’s estimated that about 80% of all antibiotics are used on healthy farm animals. So when you eat meat from commercial livestock it not only promotes antibiotic resistance. It can also kill off “good” bacteria in your gut – opening you up to obesity and any number of anti-inflammatory disorders.
Third on the hit list are the hormones used on meat-producing animals. These steroid hormones increase the animal’s growth rate and help change their feed into meat. When you eat commercial meat, these hormones can work the same way on you – making you much larger than you would prefer.
I find all of these to be extremely serious concerns when it comes to your health. And they are three of the main reasons why I always recommend choosing animal proteins that come from grass-fed, pasture-raised or wild-caught animals.
How Much Meat Should You Eat?
Can you enjoy a palm sized steak every now and then? Sure. Is it okay to chomp down on a half rack of baby-back beef ribs on occasion? Of course it is. This is especially true if you’re investing in clean meats that aren’t loaded up with toxic substances.
Even so, I still advise to keep your intake of animal proteins to about 15% or less of your diet. That’s because eating too much of them can upset the delicate balance of bacteria in your gut as well as increasing the production of something called TMA and TMAO that may be involved with cardiovascular endothelial health.
In just a single day, an animal-based diet can cause the bacteria linked to inflammatory bowel disease to flourish. In four days, it increases the type of about 21 other types of bacteria. And not all of them are good for you.
In fact, today we’re learning an imbalanced gut microbiota indeed plays a very big role when it comes to inflammatory factors, heart disease, diabetes, stroke – even obesity.
Plus, the way you cook your meat matters a lot. It’s most flavorful when it’s seared, broiled, grilled or charred.
Unfortunately, all of these cooking techniques release cancer-causing substances linked to many types of cancer; including cancers of the breast, prostate, colon, pancreas and stomach. This is true even if you’re buying the cleanest and most natural meat you can find.
So yes, eating too much meat does have its downfall. But I do have a few tricks to help you cut down on your meat intake without feeling deprived.
6 Ways to Slash Your Meat Intake without Sacrifice
Change your view of what makes a meal. If you grew up like I did the main focus of your meals is probably a big cut of meat. Vegetables are the side dishes. So switch things up. Make veggies the star of your meals and add a little meat instead of the other way around. This automatically puts meat in the back seat.
Observe meatless Mondays. This practice is global movement to help people reduce meat intake. And it’s only for one day, which makes it pretty easy to accomplish. If it works for you, try going meatless on Wednesdays and Fridays, too.
Aim for one or two meatless meals a day. If you’re a dedicated meat-lover, this concept makes cutting back on meat an easier concept to stomach. After all, if you know you can have a steak at dinner, it’s much easier to eat a salad at lunch.
Go international. Check out Indian, Mediterranean and Asian recipes that are vegetable based and loaded with herbs and spices. When your meals are bursting with flavor, it’s easy to forget that there’s no meat in them.
Eat only the healthiest of animal proteins. Whenever you have a choice, choose grassfed meat and pasture-raised poultry over processed meats like bacon, ham and sausage. Better yet, select wild-caught fish over all other animal proteins.
Modify the way you cook your meats. If you marinate meat before cooking – and if you cook it in liquid at low temperatures – it cuts down on the release of risky cancer-promoting compounds.
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National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System for Enteric Bacteria (NARMS). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last Updated Nov 2017.
Stop using antibiotics in healthy animals to prevent the spread of antibiotic resistance. News Release. World Health Organization. Nov 2017.
Cotillard A, et al. Dietary intervention impact on gut microbial gene richness. Nature. 2013 Aug 29;500(7464):585-8.
David LA, et al. Diet rapidly and reproducibly alters the human gut microbiome. Nature. 2014 Jan 23;505(7484):559-63.
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