New studies out have shown proof that red meat is linked to cancer. Researchers have found that red meat like beef, pork and lamb have a different kind of sugar in their makeup, called Neu5Gc (1). Humans don?t naturally carry it. When we eat red meat, our immune systems fight this foreign sugar, which causes inflammation (and chronic inflammation can lead to cancerous tumors). The researchers have been able to directly prove this in mice (2). But they also are careful to say that meat doesn?t cause cancer, it?s just a catalyst for cancer.
As a scientist, this is very exciting information. But as a doctor, I want to take some time to clear things up with my meat-eating patients.
Aside from the new link to red-meat-sugar and cancer that has been discovered, eating small portions of quality red meat every day is not necessarily bad for you. Our ancestors who were far from fish sources probably would have eaten meat whenever they could get it. But from then to now, there is a difference. And that difference lies in the animals themselves.
When our ancestors would eat red meat, they would eat animals that ate other natural, organic plants or animals. Even if they were far from the ocean or any type of sea-life, the meat would have contained omega-3 fatty acids instead of the omega-6 fatty acids that appear in most grain-fed meat today. Most people recognize omega-3 fatty acids as a benefit of eating fish, so how did it used to be in meat?
Here?s the answer: red meat will contain much more omega-3 fatty acids if the animal fed on grass. Let?s say there is a small herd of bison in the plains of Oklahoma that are naturally grazing organic, native grass. If we ate one of the bison, the meat would contain omega-3 fatty acids (3). However, if we took a cow or bison from a feedlot in the same area, it wouldn?t contain the omega-3, but instead omega-6 fatty acids. As soon as an animal is fed with grain or corn, the entire makeup of the fatty acids change.
The majority of the meat available is no longer natural. So the fact that red meat is linked to cancer is no wonder. Humans may be fighting the type of sugar the red meat has, but we also are getting omega-6 instead of omega-3.
What Can You Do to Eat Healthier Red Meat?
- Eat grass-fed beef instead of grain- or corn-fed. It?s more expensive but it is worth every penny?especially if you?re looking to avoid cancer!
- The World Cancer Research Fund recommends eating 500 grams of red meat a week, which would be the equivalent of five portions of roasted pork or about 3.5 medium steaks (4).
- Buy pork that has been fed with acorns.
Tips for Eating Other Types of Meat
While fish meat is the best source for omega-3 fatty acids and it doesn?t have the same foreign sugar content as red meat does, they do cause many problems with toxic contamination. Especially larger, cold-water fish like tuna propose huge issues with mercury poisoning. It may be unsafe to rely too much on fish for the essential fatty acid, omega-3.
Fish do not have a sophisticated detoxification system like human beings. That?s why they are plagued with bioaccumulation. This means a toxin goes up the food chain. Mercury in small bits is consumed by plants or crustaceans. It stays in their body because they can?t detoxify themselves. This small creature is eaten by a small fish, the small fish is eaten by a medium fish, and then the medium fish may be eaten by big fish like tuna. The toxins have accumulated in each fish until it is very present in the largest fish. Even if there is only a small amount of mercury in the water to begin with, by the time the medium and large fish eat daily meals, they will have way too much in their systems.
Bioaccumulation is like a person who can make money but cannot spend it. He just gets richer and richer, but can barely leave his house because he can?t spend anything! These poor fish get more and more filled up of mercury and toxins. Nothing can be released.
Recommendations for Fish and White Meat:
- Get smaller fish that are fresh and caught in the wild.
- The safest fish are Alaskan wild salmon, freshwater fish catfish and trout.
- Use fish oil for extra omega-3 fatty acids.
- Be careful about chicken. Most chicken meat is highly toxic because they are chemically treated to grow faster. The tastiest type will be organic vegetarian free-range.
- The tasty type of chicken to buy is milk-fed chicken?their diet is bread soaked in milk.
The moral of the story is, as the saying goes, the best defense is no offense. If you want to get healthy, stop the exposure first. That includes eating poor quality meat, poultry and fish. Don?t eat too much of a food that can do your body harm. Stop the large portions of toxins, the changed fatty acids and the red meat sugar before it harms your body.
If you would like to talk about your diet and good nutrition options, feel free to make an appointment today. If you are interested in having your toxin levels tested, we can also do that. We are passionate about helping you fully understand your health options to make you the healthy, radiant person that you were born to be.