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Is Eating Meat Good For You? The Answer May Surprise You!

"The research shows that healthy meat is a nutrient-dense food that can help prevent disease and nutritional deficiencies when you eat it with plenty of plants and vegetables."

Today Dr. Nancy Lin, PhD holistic nutritionist is talking about animal protein and inflammation.

There is so much controversy and emotion around the subject of eating animal protein like red meat, chicken, fish, eggs and more. Find out once and for all if meat is good or bad for us. The latest research provides the answers… what you’ll learn today may surprise you!

Video Highlights

  • 00:29: There is much protein surrounding animal protein
  • 01:30: Many older meat studies were focused on industrially-raised meats
  • 03:39: New research shows high-quality meats have great health benefits 
  • 05:25: Why we recommend a high-protein diet
  • 08:02: Meat is the single best source of protein you have
  • 10:35: Meat has been unfairly demonized
  • 12:48: Meat is more of a nutritional powerhouse than people realize
  • 14:52: Five animal protein tips
  • 15:00: Choose grass-fed, pasture-raised, organic meats
  • 15:54: Stay away from processed meats
  • 16:56: Stay away from high-temperature cooking methods
  • 18:15: Eat cold water fish a few times per week
  • 18:53: Avoid farm-raised fish: tilapia and Atlantic salmon

Animal Protein is a Controversial Topic

There are vocal advocates on both sides of the animal proteins debate. We've heard that eating meat will clog our arteries, cause obesity, and may even cause Cancer. It's a sensitive subject to a lot of people.

But what does the real research show? We don't mean research funded by industries with an agenda, but objective research. Many of the older meat studies focused on industrially raised meats, which are full of hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides, and which contain high levels of inflammatory omega-6 fats, and fewer anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats. Not long ago, there was a report that farmers were feeding their livestock candy and other junk food to fatten them up inexpensively, which may not be an uncommon practice. Feeding livestock a diet that's unnatural to them is not only unethical, it produces extremely unhealthy meat. 

However, there are now good scientific studies that show high quality, organic, grass-fed, and pasture raised meats are part of an overall healthy diet. So whether meat is healthy fo you really depends on where and how the animals are raised. The research shows that healthy meat is a nutrient-dense food that can help prevent disease and nutritional deficiencies when you eat it with plenty of plants and vegetables. 

Most Americans eat way too much of the wrong types of meat in one sitting, and they consume it with refined carbs: potatoes, breads, sugars, soft drinks, etc. This makes a deadly, unhealthy mix over time.

But consuming healthy animal proteins in recommended amounts with the anti-inflammatory diet, which is 70% fruits and vegetables, the benefits are tremendous! Think of this type of eating as a combined paleo-vegan diet.

Why Do We Recommend A High Protein Diet

 A high protein diet has major benefits for weight loss and metabolic health. Protein is very efficient at reducing appetite and hunger. Of the three macronutrients in food—protein, fats, and carbs—studies show that protein is by far the most filling, and cuts unhealthy cravings best. Protein helps you feel more full, with less food.

There are a few reasons for this. It is partly because protein significantly reduces the levels of ghrelin, which is known as the hunger hormone. It also boosts the levels of Peptide YY (PYY), which is the hormone that makes you feel full. PYY is secreted into your blood by cells in your lower intestine and colon. When there is enough PYY, it tells your brain to stop eating. Low PYY levels are associated with an increase in appetite and food intake. People who are obese or who have type 2 diabetes often have low PYY levels. All these things are woven together. The less you're satisfied, the more you eat, and the higher the risk of weight gain and type 2 diabetes. 

Animal-Based Proteins

Meat is the single best source of protein available. Legumes and beans do have high levels of protein for plants, but not compared to animal sources. They are also seriously lacking a number of critical amino acids. Plants contain very little of the amino acid leucine, which is the key amino acid needed to build muscle. Animal protein, on the other hand, is the best source of leucine. It also contains all the other essential amino acids needed to slow muscle loss, which is the single biggest cause of rapid aging.

This becomes even more important as we get older! Filling a day's protein requirements with non-meat foods requires enormous planning and effort: more than many people can manage. Beans are super great for your heart and digestive system, but you have to eat 3 cups of beans in one sitting to get enough protein. This means you're eating 100 grams of carbs to equal just 6 grams of protein, which you could get from animal sources with zero carbs. 

The Demonization of Meat

The discovery a half-century ago that saturated fat raises cholesterol levels (which has since been disputed) led to a widespread demonization of meat. But in reality, heart disease is a complex condition that involves not only blood levels of bad types of cholesterol, but also blood sugar, triglycerides, and other factors that lead to inflammation. It's really the processed carbs, refined starch, and sugars that raise your blood levels of bad cholesterol and bad saturated fats, not necessarily the animal protein. 

Similar to the mediterranean diet, Dr. Nancy's anti-inflammatory diet has mostly cold-water fish, pasture-fed poultry, and organic eggs as the main animal proteins. It allows for an occasional grass-fed red meat. Grass-fed meat has much better types of fat than grain-fed meat does: more omega-3s, fewer omega-6s, and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which boosts metabolism, and can help prevent cancer. Grass-fed meat also has much higher levels of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.

Meat is also more of a nutritional powerhouse than people realize. Animal protein is our only source of vitamin B12, an essential vitamin. Meat provides many valuable minerals and other vitamins, and contains enzymes we need to access nutrients, essential amino acids, and cancer-fighting antioxidants like vitamin A, which cannot be obtained directly from vegetables. Many vegans have a deficiency in B12, iron, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin D, and other nutrients. Plants do contain some of these nutrients, but they are much more bioavailable in meats. 

How Much Animal Protein is Enough?

Everyone is different, but on average, most people should aim for 30 grams of protein at each meal: some from plant and some from animal sources. In general, 3/4 of your plate should be plants, and a small handful (4 - 6 ounces, or a portion the size of your palm) of animal protein should be included. 

Five animal protein preparation tips

Choose grass-fed, pasture-raised, organic meats.

These meats are more expensive, but they are important for your health. Think of it as an investment in your health. It's worth it to spend more on food now, and less on medical care and prescription drugs later to fix the problems caused by an unhealthy diet. This is the long game! Your food is a part of you, and is a major contributor to how you feel and even think. So high quality foods are like preventative medicine. 

Stay away from processed meats

Skip the hot dogs! Anything not in its natural form is a processed meat. This includes deli meats. These meats include nitrates, food coloring, sodium, and all kinds of extra things for taste and presentation, that are just not good for you, and can even make you more sick. These are the meats the World Health Organization are warning us about, that are directly linked to illnesses, including cancer. So skip sausage, bacon, and other high-fat meats!

How you prepare your meats matters

High-temperature cooking like grilling, frying, smoking, and charring causes carcinogens that are toxic to our bodies. This also happens when you cook fish or chicken these ways. It leads to the production of compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PEH), and heterocyclic amines (HCA). Studies have been shown these compounds to be directly linked to cancer. Avoid these cooking methods to reduce your exposure to these toxic compounds. Focus on lower temperature cooking for both meat and veggies. Try baking, roasting, poaching, and stewed foods. 

Cold water fish a few times per week

Oily fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, albacore, tuna, and lake trout are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Unlike most fats, which the human body has no trouble making on its own, it does not produce this essential fat. Omega-3s do so much for your body, including helping to lower inflammation and help prevent heart disease.

Avoid farm-raised fish

Tilapia, one of the most widely consumed fish in the United States, contains very low levels of beneficial omega-3s and high levels of omega-6s. This ratio makes it very inflammatory, and a dangerous food for people living with heart disease, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, and more. In fact scientists argue that tilapia is worse for your health than processed foods! Tilapia is raised in fishing farms, where they live in stagnant water, are fed antibiotics, and their environment is full of pesticides, feces, bacteria, and parasites.

One of the best types of fish is wild-caught Alaskan salmon. Unfortunately, most Americans consume Atlantic salmon, which is the unhealthy kind. The dangers of farmed fishing, are enough to make your stomach turn. It is illegal to fish wild Atlantic salmon, so you can know that all salmon marketed as Atlantic salmon is farmed. Farm-raised salmon is much less healthy than wild-caught salmon, due to high omega-6s and low omega-3s. 

Even when you go out to sushi, make sure you ask what is fresh and what is wild!

Download Dr. Nancy's anti-inflammatory diet to keep these recommendations handy. We know that animal-based proteins are a controversial subject. We're devoted to staying abreast of current research, and putting out the best information and education we can. 

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