By the Dr. Perlmutter Team
As previously discussed, there are significant nutritional differences between the meat produced by cows that eat grass and those that subsist on grain. Beef from cows that eat only grass contains higher concentrations of essential nutrients, omega-3 fatty acids, and conjugated linoleic acid. It also has lower levels of hormones, antibiotics and other toxic remnants from the industrial production process, which can have significant ramifications on our health, ranging from the microbiome to cellular health. Additionally, grass-fed cows live out their lives more closely aligned with how nature intended—freely roaming pasture land and consuming grasses available to them in their immediate environment—which makes the process more humane and environmentally-friendly.
However, like many of the buzzwords surrounding healthy living, there’s a lot of confusion and outright deception that surrounds the “grass-fed” descriptor. While certain trade organizations do their best to impose uniform standards, the use of the term “grass-fed” is, unfortunately, not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration or the United States Department of Agriculture. This sadly leaves the label open to abuse by unscrupulous producers looking to harvest the benefit of the term without putting in the effort to truly raise grass-fed cattle. The process of getting the “grass-fed” label approved on packaging for a given farm’s beef is incredibly lax, and actually doesn’t even include a farm inspection! Essentially, the government takes farms at their word when determining whether or not their product should be labeled grass-fed. Continue reading
By the Dr. Perlmutter Team
Americans eat a lot of meat. In 2018, the United States Department of Agriculture projected that the average person would consume over two hundred pounds of chicken, pork, and beef by year’s end. That’s more than half a pound daily per capita, every day of the year! While it is possible to consume an omnivorous diet and maintain a healthy lifestyle, we recommend viewing meat as a garnish or side dish rather than the focus of your meal. The perfect plate is full of colorful, above-ground leafy vegetables and healthy fats, and if you choose to eat meat, then a three-to-four ounce serving of meat. However, it’s very important to remember that not all meat is created equally.
One of the most important factors in determining the overall quality of meat—especially red meat—is the dietary patterns of the livestock that produced it. When you think about it, this makes perfect sense: the food an animal consumes is used by their body to grow and develop, and, ultimately, becomes the very food that we consume. Feeding cattle a nutrient-poor diet will, in turn, produce a nutrient-poor food source, compared to cattle fed a natural, nutritious diet.
As it turns out, the age-old adage “You are what you eat” applies to cattle, too! Continue reading
This week, a study published in the British Medical Journal showed that younger women who ate red meat had a slightly increased risk for developing breast cancer. The study involved close to 90,000 women followed for 20 years, meaning that, from a statistical perspective, it was respectable.
So how is it that I am comfortable maintaining my recommendation that eating red meat in small amounts is good for health? After all, here is a study pointing to an increased risk for breast cancer in women.
Let’s go back to the actual recommendations I’ve made in Grain Brain and have reiterated on this web site. You’ll recall that I’ve been quite specific in recommending grass-fed meat as opposed to grain-fed meat. And that matters a lot when considering a study such as this.
I made a point in Grain Brain to emphasize the importance of wild fish as opposed to farm-raised fish for several important reasons. I’m well aware that wild fish may not always be available (a situation that will no doubt become more common in the future), but given the chance, wild fish should be your choice, and here’s why:
- Farmed fish will provide your body with higher levels of inflammation producing omega-6 fatty acids, and lower levels of inflammation fighting heart and brain healthy omega-3s. Inflammation is a key player in virtually all the medical issues you don’t want to get including cancer, diabetes, arthritis, coronary artery disease and even Alzheimer’s. Continue reading
As you may have heard, University of Southern California researchers recently published a report in the journal Cell Metabolism in which they related consumption of higher levels of protein from animal sources to increased mortality risk, as well as increased risk for the development of cancer. Interestingly, the same report also revealed that lower levels of protein consumption in elderly people might actually be worse in terms of risk for various health issues. The authors concluded:
These results suggest that low protein intake during middle age followed by moderate to high protein consumption in old adults may optimize healthspan and longevity.
The study followed 6,381 adults over an 18 year period and collected data revealing what foods were consumed as well as any specific health issues that developed.
Overall, I think the study does provide some very valuable information. If we are to interpret the results with the hope of gaining ideas about our food choices it’s important to recognize that the study clearly points a finger at the consumption of meat and dairy products in America, and that’s where we need to focus our attention.