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Another Health Danger of Red Meat

I have counseled patients about the health dangers of red meat for a long time. Meat lovers don't want to hear this and they default to arguments like "Aren't we really carnivores?" and "Eating meat is in our DNA", and "Oh you vegetarians are always harping on meat" and "That's just bad science. I don't believe it". Uh, OK!

I'm here to give you the science and the evidence. Why you do with it is your business.

Another study (yes there are hundreds) has been published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that looked at data from 3 different studies spanning several decades. They found that people who eat red meat have a higher risk of developing diabetes later in life. People who eat hot dogs, lunch meats, bacon and processed meats have even higher risk (along with Cancer).

The results are easy to explain. Eat more red meat, have higher risk. Those who ate meat (beef, pork or lamb) every day had a 62% higher risk of developing diabetes. Swapping just one serving of meat for plant protein (nuts, tofu, legumes, yogurt) lowered the risk considerably.

Meat has saturated fat, sodium and preservatives and other studies have shown this leads to insulin resistance. High levels of nitrites and nitrates found in meat cause inflammation and damage cells in the pancreas.

When your body breaks down a meat meal, it releases a substance called Trimethylamine-N-oxide. (TMAO). TMAO leads to cardiovascular disease and increased early death FROM ANY CAUSE. People with high levels of TMAO in their blood had more than twice the risk of a heart attack or stroke. According to the NIH, discontinuation of meat eating reduces TMAO in the blood within 4 weeks.

Are you not yet ready to give up meat? Just being aware and cutting back can improve your health and longevity. Make sure you eat fiber and vitamin C (tomatoes, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts) with your meat meals to cut absorption of the heme-iron that is found in red meat.

The quality of your meat is also important. Farm pasture raised, organic, animals who eat grass, unprocessed with nitrites and added salt makes a big difference. It's certainly more expensive but worth it if meat is eaten rarely.

Keep in mind that these chronic diseases (cardiovascular, cancer, diabetes, kidney and liver disease) are not caused by one thing only. Every person who eats a steak and hamburger will not develop diabetes. But it's almost guaranteed that eating red meat daily will cause severe health problems, obesity and lead to unhealthy old age. If you get that far.


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