I Should Stop Eating Red Meat. Right?

sven-brandsma-1513275-unsplashIn an eye opening study of more than 121,000 adults, investigators reported that the more red meat you eat, the greater your risk of dying and of developing life-threatening diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes- a study was conducted by a team at Harvard School of Public Health and published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in March 2012.

They found those who ate the most had a 30% or more increased risk of death. That each serving of unprocessed meat (like grassfed beef) was associated with a 13% increase in the risk of early death, while each serving of processed (like hot dogs, sausage) meat was associated with a 20% increased risk of dying early. These particular researchers are not telling people to completely stop eating red meat. They recommend people eat it about three times a week and cook on low temperature instead of high like grilling.  


lukas-budimaier-43828-unsplash.jpgLet us look at what Dr. Dean Ornish, M.D., the founder and president of the non-profit Preventive Medicine Research Institute and Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco has to say about meat, heart health and early death.

He is the founder of the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine which he asserts has been scientifically proven to reverse the progression of even severe coronary heart disease: type 2 diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, and high blood pressure as well as to slow, stop, or even reverse the progression of early-stage prostate cancer in a series of randomized controlled trials published in leading peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Ornish thinks we should stop eating red meat altogether. He has argued that high-protein and high-fat diets are to blame for America’s ever-growing waistline and incidence of chronic disease.


I site the views from Harvard researchers and doctors like Dr. Ornish because bodies like the American Heart Association tend to look at what people like these think before publishing recommendations. Let us look at two expert professionals who do not see a direct cause and effect between eating red meat and heart health. Let us consider what Gary Taubes and Nina Teicholz have to contribute to this topic. Their views on this topic are extremely important even though they are not medical doctors. Here is why.

max-delsid-479103-unsplash.jpgGary Taubes is an investigative science and health and free-lance journalist and co-founder and president of the non-profit Nutrition Science Initiative (NuSI.org). He is the author of The Case Against Sugar (2016), Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It (2011) and Good Calories, Bad Calories: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Control and Disease (2007), published as The Diet Delusion in the UK. Taubes began writing and reporting on science and medicine for Discover magazine in 1982.

Nina Teicholz is an  investigative journalist and author of the International (and New York Times) bestseller, The Big Fat Surprise. Before turning her full focus unto researching nutrition science for nearly a decade, Teicholz was a reporter for National Public Radio. She has contributed to many publications, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, the Washington Post, The New Yorker, and The Economist. She attended Yale and Stanford where she studied biology and majored in American Studies. She holds a master’s degree from Oxford University and served as associate director of the Center for Globalization and Sustainable Development at Columbia University.

So what do they think? Gary Taubes and Nina Teicholz recently criticized the popular diet advice of the last 50 years in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times. They report in this piece that for the past 50 years, Americans have followed recommendations to increase their consumption of grains, vegetables, and fruits and consuming less whole milk, butter, meat, and eggs. The outcome has been a drastic rise in obesity and Type 2 diabetes rates. They also site studies were people have switched from carbohydrates to a more animal fats and proteins diet,  to essentially cure themselves of diabetes, lose weight and improve cardiovascular risk factors.

max-kleinen-1510975-unsplash.jpgSo should we eat meat moderately or avoid it altogether? What about grass fed beef? What about organ meats full of nutrition like liver, hearts, etc? How accurate are some of these studies being sited? What big body is paying for these studies? How much political influence do some of these researchers have?  Are these Observational Studies (OSS) or Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs)?

With all the evidence (I use this word loosely here) before us, I personally believe that eating grass fed  meats, cooked under low temperature, about twice a week seems safe. That is my personal view. That is what I do. Please consult your personal doctor for recommendations that are right for you.






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