Obviously, you can pick up diseases from eating contaminated meat. We’ve all had a bout of food poisoning before. And we’ve all heard of Mad Cow Disease. So the concept of picking up a pathogen from that hamburger or chicken vidaloo isn’t all that foreign.
However, more questions have arisen after the release of a Harvard study exploring the link between red meat and diabetes.
But wait! Isn’t diabetes the result of eating too much sugar? Yes, that’s certainly a major factor. But when Harvard researchers realized that people who ate only a few ounces of red meat every day over the course of 10+ years, their risk for diabetes went up by almost 20%. That certainly does raise some questions.
As it turns out, two compounds and one element in red meat contribute to insulin resistance: sodium, nitrates and iron. If you combine a daily dose of these three, combined with the Standard American Diet (SAD), then you’ve got a powerful cocktail at the Diabetes Lounge.
That is, of course, not the whole story–even though Harvard Magazine basically stops there.
Dave Asprey, the creator and owner of Bulletproof, took it a bit further. He points out two major factors the Harvard study didn’t address.
- They make no distinction between processed and unprocessed meats. Processed meats, like sausages, deli meats, bacon, etc. contain more sodium and nitrates than unprocessed meats. The question is, what were these study participants eating? And keep in mind the study followed up with them periodically over the space of 14 years. Just imagine how much processed meat the average American eats in 14 years.
- A huge part of the development of diabetes is the state of a person’s microbiome. The balance–or imbalance–of gut bacteria plays a major role in the development of disease. The Harvard study didn’t address the microbiome at all.
The problem is, this is combined with the recent popularity of a documentary on Netflix called What the Health?, where filmmakers went to great lengths to, in my view, push a vegan agenda. That doesn’t mean the film doesn’t make some good points (particularly in regards to the effects of factory farming on the environment), but to conclude that meat is the root cause of our major health challenges in the modern world is absurd.
So what should we conclude from all of this?
To me, this is confirmation of the fact that, in the modern world, “healthy food” can be unhealthy depending on the context. Let me give you a classic example:
Are green vegetables good for you?
Nearly everyone would agree that yes, green vegetables are good for you.
My questions is: what if they are covered in toxic pesticides? Because then, while you get a nice dose of vitamins and minerals and antioxidants and other micronutrients, you’re also causing leaky gut, inflammation, contributing to your cancer risk, putting your fertility at risk and raising the level of neurotoxins in your brain.
In that case, green vegetables would not be healthy.
The same concept applies to meat. If you’re eating clean, grass fed beef from a non-modified cow that hasn’t been fed a steady diet of hormones and antibiotics, there’s almost nothing healthier. You’ve got a great source of protein, healthy fats, Vitamin D, Calcium and so much more.
It’s when you pump that cow full of drugs and hormones, feed it grains covered in pesticides, cram it into an enclosure with hundreds of other stressed-out cows, then take the meat and add preservatives, fillers and heaven-knows-what-else–well, then you might have a problem.
In short, eat clean and these sorts of concerns shouldn’t concern you.
As a final note, it’s rare to find anything as simple as: “red meat is bad for you” or “fruits and vegetables are good for you.” Some axioms apply. I mean, sugar is just bad. There are no two ways about it. But with most other things, it takes a bit of research and understanding to get to the bottom of what’s healthy or not. And in many cases, you have to take a little bad with the good and just make sure your detoxification pathways are in good shape so you can get rid of anything nasty that makes its way in.