With red meat taking a bashing over the years with links to cancer, obesity and every disease known to humans, the debate has come full circle of late, with now red meat being heralded as the new superfood. Except that it isn't new. Don't you just hate health fads? This article looks at the science to see if any of it has merits.
Jordan Peterson, clinical psychologist and casual celebrity intellectual has been called many things. Both positive and negative. Say what you want about this guy, and he has confounded many stereotypes about his own image and behaviour, well the reason I was so shocked about him was not because he was standing up for freedom of speech and defending himself against politically correct super-nazis, but no, something more mundane.
His diet is made up almost in its entirety of RED MEAT.
Well for all Jordan says or does he is just one man. Why should we do what he does? Forget about JP for a second a massive study was done in 2018 by a Canadian university. It involved some 140, 000 people. The results were quite interesting to say the least.
The PURE study followed the participants over a 9 year period, they were aged 35-70. Just before getting into the study a little pretext is needed that should get you thinking. Coronary heart disease has been increasing since the 1950s in affluent 1st World countries: America, UK, France, Germany....
Over the 9 year clinical trial 6,821 participants died from some form of cardiovascular disease. Another 5,466 experienced a major cardiovascular event, either a stroke, heart failure or heart attack.
Study Analysis Points
The participants diet was recorded using a food scoring system. Data from previous studies was incorporated, specifically foods like fruit and vegetables, diary products, fish, legumes, nuts and even red meat as these were suggested could decrease the risk of premature death.
Foods were graded according to their quality, with processed foods receiving lower scores.
This diet is very similar to the DASH DIET which focuses mainly on fruit and vegetables, lean red meat and whole grains. The only exception is that the PURE study included dairy. The DASH diet is specifically recommended to lowering blood pressure for anyone suffering from hypertension.
The PURE diet cuts back on carbs and is based more on fat and protein intakes. The approximate ratios were:
The study concluded that the individuals on this diet lowered there risk of all cause mortality by 25% when compared to participants with diets less rich in high quality food sources.
The comparison to the DASH diet has some interesting points, specifically where red meat is concerned. For years red meat has been linked to heart disease and cancer, but that may have more to do with the quality of the source or the fat content of the meat, and possibly the overall calorie intake of the individual.
DASH is mostly recommended to people with high blood pressure. This is a serious health concern as the number of people who suffer from this has doubled in the last 40 years. The main contributory factors are diet, obesity, stress and inactive lifestyles. People who have all those elements in their life are a toxic time bomb.
High blood pressure has strong links to heart disease, it is also a precursor to strokes and kidney disease. Similar to the PURE diet it contained red meat although probably in smaller proportions.. The results were also similar in that it has significant benefits for reducing heart disease and premature mortality.
The exact stats of Pure study state that the individuals who eat a high scoring (high quality) diet had a 11% lower risk of developing a cardiovascular even( heart attack, heart disease, stroke) and a 25% lower risk of dying early of any cause.
Pure seems to suggest that red meat and dairy are good for you then- they can help you live longer and not succumb to the early onset of heart disease. But that was just one study, studies can have problems, bias, factors can be left out.
Even so another study was carried out this time using 218, 000 participants from 50 countries all over the world. The findings were the same, meaning that the results are applicable to any country all over the world so long as the base food sources were the same.
As the study had universal results no one region or country could claim the study only was beneficial in regions of the world were the base food sources were of higher quality.
Prof. Salim Yusuf was head in charge of the PURE (The Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiological) study. He is the director of The Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) located in McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada.
The overall findings of this research suggest the food sources and portions recommended by governments and health agencies and professionals worldwide prior to these findings are not only outdated but they need to readdressed.
The data traditional recommendations have been based on is from decades in the past. Just like in bro-science arguments you witness in every gym they are full of half truths and myths. One underlying factor remains, whole foods are healthy. Lean cuts of red meat is health - if you can determine they are from grass fed and not process fed animals.
Processed food, refined sugar, excessive sodium should be eradicated from the diets of anyone who wants better odds at living longer and remaining free from the early onset of disease linked to the abuse of "low quality" food.
How To Score Your Own Food Sources
If it's processed eat very little of it, it's crap. If it's the mainstay of your diet you are storing up trouble. Eat more whole foods, dairy products, fruit, seeds, nuts, lean red meat. Don't be afraid of fatty foods like fish, yogurt, avocado, coconut oil.
Keep your food sources whole and pure and your body will thank you for it.