Is Meat Dangerous for You? The Full Scientific Reply

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The central theses

  1. Many people claim that red meat causes cancer and increases the risk of heart disease. You are healthier if you significantly reduce or eliminate the consumption of red meat.
  2. The latest and highest quality scientific studies show that there is little reason to reduce red meat consumption, and many studies show negative health effects if meat is completely removed from your diet.
  3. However, this does not mean that you should eat as much red meat as you like, or should eat red meat, excluding other foods such as fruits or vegetables. Read on to find out how much meat is safe to eat!

Meat has become increasingly controversial lately.

Some say that its harmful effects are smoking, others even claim that we should levy a special "health tax" on meat eaters.

The Contrarians say that meat has a number of positive health benefits, very few disadvantages, and most research that shows otherwise is related to inferior processed meat.

Others see in the middle of the street and say that meat in large quantities can cause health problems, but is healthy in moderation.

A look at the scientific evidence will only further cloud the water.

If you look online you will find some studies that show that meat is bad for you, some studies that show that it is benign, and others that seem to show that it is good for you.

In recent years, however, the pendulum of public opinion has turned a lot in the direction of "meat is bad for you", thanks mainly to several statements from the most important health authorities.

Who is right?

The short answer is: Meat is probably not as bad for you, as many news agencies claim, and reducing your meat intake is unlikely to make a big difference to your health.

That said, it's also fair to say that eating as much processed or fatty meat as you like is probably not good for you either.

Ready for the long answer?

Let's start things off by looking closely at what meat is, and then we'll speak out for and against eating it.

What is meat?

flesh refers to the meat of an animal that is usually consumed by humans.

These include beef, chicken, lamb, pork and seafood such as salmon, scallops and shrimp.

When a lot of people say in the US Flesh, However, they specifically refer to Red meat, which comes from land animals such as beef and lamb as well as game such as elk, deer and wild boar.

White meat Refers to white meat that is normally derived from animals such as chicken, turkey and pork, although some people consider pork to be red meat.

Technically, however, the term flesh refers to animal meat from any animal, whether it lives in the water, on land or in the air.

Meat that has been processed by smoking, salting or hardening, or that has been treated with other chemicals to improve its taste, texture or shelf life is known as processed meat. Usually it is also red meat.

Sausage, bacon, sausages and dried meat are examples of processed meat.

Last but not least, Offal, also called Variety meat, pluck, or Organ meat, are the internal organs of a particular animal.

Liver and liver pate are among the most popular of these meats in the West. But the truth is that people all over the world eat everything from beef brain curry in Indonesia to testicle stew in Hungary.

Usually, however, when people are debating whether to eat or not Flesh, You talk about beef.

Summary: flesh refers to the meat of an animal that is consumed by humans. Red meat refers to meat from land mammals such as beef, bison, and deer, while white meat refers to meat from animals such as chicken, turkey, and pork, and processed meat refers to meat that has been salted, salted, or treated with other chemicals Improve taste, texture or shelf life.

The case for eating meat


Benefits of eating red meat


In November 2019, a group of 14 researchers led epidemiologist Bradley Johnston from Dalhousie University released Five systematic reviews showed that there are no good health reasons for people to reduce their consumption of red and processed meat.

The studies were published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicineand their results, summarized in a new clinical guideline through the nutritional recommendations (NutriRECS) Consortium.

As you can imagine, these studies triggered a strong backlash from the anti-meat mass.

They also appear to contradict most of the official recommendations from health and nutrition organizations.

For example, in 2015 the International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization announced it had classified processed meat as classified carcinogenic to humansand red meat as probably carcinogenic to humans.

In addition, the American Heart Association, the United States government nutrition guidelines, the American Cancer Society, and the World Cancer Research Fund, have long recommended that people limit their consumption of red and processed meat.

So why the conflicting results of this new set of systematic reviews?

Well, the scientists took a different approach than most previous research that dealt with this question. Instead of studying every study on the subject, including many with dubious methods and potentially biased results, they limited their research to Cohort studies and randomized controlled trials.

These two types of studies are considered the “gold standard” of scientific research and therefore most likely help us to find out the truth.

The researchers intentionally have no evidence from other, less reliable studies, such as Observation, Case control, or Animal testing.

When sorting the studies that they included in their reviews, they also applied a strict standard to decide how the Evaluation of recommendations Evaluation, development and evaluation (GREAT). This is a widely used system for deciding how much credibility each study should give when making comprehensive recommendations.

While these reviews are not the last word on the health effects of meat, they are strong evidence that the claims against food may have been exaggerated. They certainly support the idea that it's okay to consume meat in moderation.

It is also worth considering the many health benefits of eating meat, such as:

  • Appetite suppression and metabolism boost.

Meat is a much better source of protein than plant foods, which helps Reduce appetite and Increase calorie burning thanks to an increase in thermal effect of food.

  • Fat loss and muscle building.

The high protein content of meat also means that it helps Support fat loss and Muscle building, especially in combination with a Strength training program.

  • Improved bone density and health.

Contrary to what many people believe, eating more animal protein does not seem to harm bone health. For example, Research shows older women who consume the most animal protein have a 69% lower risk of hip fracture.

  • Increased iron absorption and less risk of anemia.

Meat is that best source of highly absorbable Heme Iron that is easier to absorb than Non-heme Iron found in plants.

Another evidence of meat consumption is the numerous studies that show negative health effects if you completely remove meat from your diet. See the next section for more information.

Summary: The best available scientific evidence shows that you are unlikely to benefit from a reduction in red meat intake, and research also shows many benefits of regular meat consumption.

What happens to your body when you stop eating meat?


Advantages and disadvantages of red meat


In other words, what happens if you follow a? Vegan diet?

Well, some things, and most of them are not good.

The main problems with a vegan diet are:

  • Getting more protein to build muscle is more difficult.
  • It is no more effective at losing weight than an omnivorous diet.
  • It increases the risk of nutrient deficiencies.
  • It doesn't protect you from heart disease.

Getting more protein to build muscle is more difficult.

All in all, animal proteins are better for building muscle than vegetable proteins.

The reason for that Because Animal proteins contain more essential amino acids, especially leucine, and are more digestible and absorbable than vegetable proteins. All of these factors make animal protein more effective in promoting muscle growth.

A more detailed explanation of animal and vegetable protein can be found in this article:

Animal protein vs. Vegetable protein: which one is best for building muscle?

While this doesn't mean vegans can't get enough protein to maximize muscle building, it does require a bit more work, especially in the Meal planning Department.

If you want to learn more about how to plan vegan meals to get enough protein to build muscle as efficiently as possible, read this article:

This is the definitive guide to vegan bodybuilding every herbivore needs

It is no more effective at losing weight than an omnivorous diet.

Many vegans claim that giving up all animal foods helps them lose weight, and that's true.

Veganism can help you lose weight.

However, what many vegans don't mention is that many studies show this You can lose weight just as effective when eating meat.

The vegan diet helps you lose weight just like any other weight loss diet: by forcing you to do so eat fewer calories.

This applies to the Military diet, the Mediterranean cuisine, and the Carnivore diet– the opposite of the vegan diet.

If your main motivation for giving up meat is losing weight, bark at the wrong tree.

Although veganism can help you lose weight, it is not optimal for losing weight fat.

As you learned earlier, it is so More heavy for vegans to eat enough protein to build muscle or maintain muscle while losing fat. This is the reason why many people who lose weight through a low-protein, vegan diet are often on the lookout thin fat instead of slim and muscular after losing weight.

It increases the risk of nutrient deficiencies.

Vegan nutrition is rich in many important nutrients, but not so rich in other, very important ones, especially those that are contained in animal foods.

As the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition points out that “vegan diets usually have a high percentage Dietary fiber, Magnesium, folic acid, vitamins C and E and phytonutrients and they tend to contain fewer calories, less saturated fat and less cholesterol, Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin D, Calcium, zinc and vitamin B12. "

Vitamin B12 deficiency deserves special attention as it is one of the most common, harmful and easy-to-avoid nutritional deficiencies among vegans.

For example a study Performed by scientists from Oxford University, B12 levels were measured in 689 men, including 226 omnivores, 231 vegetarians and 232 vegans.

They found that 52% of vegans were deficient in B12 compared to only 7% of vegetarians and only one omnivore (0.04%).

The bottom line is that veganism significantly increases the risk of a lack of essential nutrients. Although you can prevent these problems by consuming certain foods and supplements to ensure that you cover your nutritional basis, many vegans do not.

It doesn't protect you from heart disease.

Many people see veganism as a way to protect their heart health. And there are indications that this can be remedied.

For example a study Research conducted by scientists from the Catholic University in São Paulo has shown that a vegan diet is associated with a lower content of triglycerides, low-density lipoproteins and cholesterol than an omnivorous diet.

The study also found that while there was no difference in HDL (High Density Lipoprotein) levels, the ratio of HDL to cholesterol was much higher in vegans.

There are also solid ones research This shows that vegetarians – who also do not eat meat – are up to 12% less likely to die than meat eaters and have a lower risk of suffering from meat Metabolic syndrome.

However, veganism also creates a number of problems related to heart health.

Perhaps the most important of these problems is that vegans are at higher risk of developing a deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids, also known as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are not only beneficial for prevention Heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes, but also for:

The reason for this is that vegetable oils do not contain omega-3 fatty acids, but rather a fatty acid called Alpha linolenic acid (ALA), which the body then converts to EPA and DHA.

However, the conversion process is very inefficient It is therefore difficult for vegans to get enough of them without eating animal foods.

In fact, it is also difficult to get enough EPA and DHA from animal products because they are in much smaller amounts flesh and Eggs as a fish.

For this reason, both vegans and non-vegans should consider: a Fish oil supplement.

Other research shows that vegetarians have a higher level of homocysteine ​​in the blood than omnivores, which is a marker of an increased risk of heart disease.

Despite the claims of many vegans, there is little evidence that animal products can be completely abandoned to avoid heart disease. In fact, there is strong evidence that eating some animal products by providing omega-3 fatty acids is good for heart health.

The case against eating meat


What is red meat?


The main reasons why people say you shouldn't eat meat are that it can cause cancer and heart disease.

And vegans can refer to a handful of papers that seem to support this position.

For example a paper published in the World Health Organization's International Cancer Research Agency in 2015, announced that it classified processed meat as carcinogenic to humansand red meat as probably carcinogenic to humans.

In particular, the paper found that people who eat more red and processed meat are more likely to develop colon cancer. The paper also found a link between red meat consumption and prostate cancer and between processed meat consumption and stomach cancer.

Other research shows that consuming more red meat can increase your risk Breast cancerand that eating more red and processed meat the a total of risk of death.

However, there are also plenty research The contradicts these claims.

Where is that Well, one answer comes from the recently published one NutriRECS reviews conducted by Dalhousie University researchers who concluded that there are no good health reasons for people to reduce their red and processed meat consumption.

While some interpreted this conclusion that you can eat as much red or processed meat as you want without negative health complications, their actual recommendations were more moderate.

Let’s take a closer look at the wording of the author’s conclusions.

When it comes to unprocessed red meat, the researchers recommend. . .

For adults 18 years and older, we recommend continuing the current unprocessed consumption of red meat (weak recommendation, evidence with little certainty).

And when it comes to processed red meat, the researchers recommend. . .

For adults 18 years and older, we recommend continuing to eat processed meat (weak recommendation, evidence with little certainty).

The reason why the researchers qualified their conclusions with "poor recommendation, low evidence security" is that they felt that the studies they were reviewing were not clear enough to warrant a definitive, unambiguous answer.

Even so, it is still the best evidence currently available, so it cannot simply be dismissed.

If you look at all the current scientific knowledge about red and processed meat and your health, we really don't really know what long-term health effects this has.

Eating a lot could be bad, eating nothing is probably bad, and it's unclear what a healthy compromise looks like, according to scientific literature.

Where is that

Well, there is little evidence that eating red meat, even in relatively large quantities, is bad for you.

And in the case of processed meat, I quote Mike's position from a previous one items::

Research shows that it is reasonable to assume that eating too much processed meat can cause cancer, but without controlled interventions that would never happen to an ethics committee due to the possibility of actually giving cancer to someone, we cannot say for sure.

I'm not afraid to have a hot dog or delicatessen every now and then, but I eat very little of these types of foods and I recommend that you do the same.

And here is Mike again on the closely related topic of saturated fatty acids::

The long-held belief that saturated fatty acids increase the risk of heart disease has been questioned by current researchThis was a blessing for the fashion diet industry, not to mention the meat and dairy industry (we have seen a real renaissance in meat and milk consumption).

The problem, however, is that research has been on promoting this movement too strong criticized by prominent nutritional and cardiology researchers for various deficiencies and omissions.

These scientists claim that there is a strong link between high saturated fat intake and heart disease and that we should follow the generally accepted dietary guidelines for saturated fat intake (less than 10% of daily calories) until we know more.

Another line of evidence against reckless meat consumption can be found by examining a new fad known as that Carnivore dietabout which Mike wrote a detailed article:

Should You Try The Carnivore Diet? What 74 studies say

There are some key insights from this article:

  1. You can probably eat large amounts of red meat – even fatty meat – and still be healthy.
  2. You should still eat large amounts of fruits and vegetables, and it's stupid and unhealthy to leave them out in favor of more meat.
  3. You should probably not eat large amounts of processed meat if you care about your long-term health.

If you want to learn more, read the article.

Summary: Although some studies have shown that eating large amounts of red and especially processed meat can increase the risk of heart disease and cancer, the latest and highest quality scientific evidence shows that this is probably not the case. The safest course of action is to eat meat in moderation.

How Much Meat Can You Eat Safely?


what is considered red meat


If you want to continue eating meat but also want to optimize your health, longevity and wellbeing, what can a sensible omnivore like you do?

Should you limit yourself to small portions of red meat only a few times a week, or can you safely treat yourself to larger quantities of red meat every day?

Well, the scientific evidence doesn't give us clear answers, but it does give us some clues as to what the healthiest strategy could be.

The 2015 to 2020 Nutrition guidelines for Americans recommend one serving (85 grams) of cooked red and processed meat per week, which is an extremely small amount. This is a medium sized hamburger patty per week.

These guidelines also come from largely discredited research that showed that eating red meat contributed to cancer and heart disease. So take it with a grain of salt.

On the other hand, the Britain's National Health Service (NHS) and the World Cancer Research Fund recommend a limit of 500 grams of cooked red and processed meat a week, almost six times more than the nutritional guidelines for Americans.

That may sound like a lot of red meat, but it really isn't. In fact, this is equivalent to two or eight ounces of steak or a large hamburger and a few pieces of braised meat a week.

This recommendation also comes closer to what Americans actually do consume: 471 grams of red and processed meat per week.

Before you blindly adhere to these guidelines, there are a few facts to consider.

First, all of these agencies have combined red and processed meat, although most research shows that processed meat poses a significantly higher risk to human health than unprocessed red meat.

Second, these agencies also assume that much of the red and processed meat consumed by humans is rich in fat, and especially saturated fat. Therefore, their recommendations should also help to reduce the intake of saturated fatty acids.

However, if you mostly eat lean cuts of meat and little to no processed meat and don't consume as much saturated fat, these recommendations may be unnecessarily low.

Finally, these recommendations are also based on studies involving generally sedentary people, many of whom follow a standard Western diet of processed foods. In other words, people who live a relatively unhealthy lifestyle.

We don't have as much data on how healthy or unhealthy it is for active people who eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, including red or processed meat.

All of these folds open the door for some more questions, such as: . .

Can you eat more than the red meat limit (500 grams per week) when all or most of the red meat you eat is unprocessed?

Can you eat more meat than the upper limit if most of the meat you eat is relatively lean and low in fat?

Can you eat more meat than the upper limit if you also eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, exercise regularly, sleep a lot and otherwise live a healthy lifestyle?

Scientific research does not provide definitive answers, but common sense would indicate that the answers are "yes", "yes" and "yes".

All in all, we can say the following:

  1. There is no clear upper or lower limit on the amount of meat you should eat, although eating a wide range of different meats (fish, poultry, pork, etc.) instead of just red meat is probably a good idea.
  2. It's probably best to prioritize lean red meat over fatty cuts and keep total saturated fat intake below 10% of your total calories.
  3. It's probably best to minimize the intake of processed meat and instead focus on eating fresh, minimally processed meat.
  4. Regardless of how much meat you eat, you should also eat lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Summary: There is no definitive scientific answer as to how much red or processed meat you can eat per week. However, it's probably best to minimize the intake of processed meat and focus on relatively lean cuts of fresh, minimally processed meat from different animals.

The conclusion when eating meat

Try to find a clear answer to how much and what kind of meat you should eat to stay healthy and you will quickly find yourself in a whirlwind of different mindsets.

Some people say eat any Meat is bad for you, and several prominent health authorities have confirmed this view by saying that red meat is a carcinogen.

Others claim that normal red meat is perfectly healthy in any amount, but processed meat is the real culprit.

Others say eating small amounts of meat is fine, but large amounts are bad for you.

By fleshMost people mean red meat like beef or lamb and so on processed meatMost people think of meat that has been salted, hardened, or treated with chemicals to improve its taste, texture, and shelf life.

The argument for eating meat is as follows:

The highest quality research available shows that eating meat is not unhealthy and that reducing meat consumption is of little benefit.

In addition, meat is also a good source of protein and essential nutrients, which are difficult to get with a vegetarian and vegan diet.

The argument against meat consumption is based on evidence showing a link between red and processed meat and cancer and heart disease.

It is worth noting, however, that much of this research is based on relatively low-quality studies involving sedentary, often overweight, people who are on a standard Western diet with processed foods.

Therefore, it's hard to say how eating red or processed meat affects active, lean, healthy people who also eat lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Where is that

While there are no definitive answers, here are some simple, evidence-based recommendations for reasonable meat consumption:

  1. There is no clear upper or lower limit on the amount of meat you should eat, although eating a wide range of different meats (fish, poultry, pork, etc.) instead of just red meat is probably a good idea.
  2. It's probably best to prioritize lean red meat over fatty cuts and keep total saturated fat intake below 10% of your total calories.
  3. It's probably best to minimize the intake of processed meat and instead focus on eating fresh, minimally processed meat.
  4. Regardless of how much meat you eat, you should also eat lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Do all of this and make sure you stay active and stay healthy Body fat percentageand practice a generally healthy lifestyle, and you probably don't have to worry too much about meat consumption.

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What do you think of red meat? Do you have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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