With foods there is a tendency to classify specific ones or food categories as evil and absolutely horrible for health. Think sugar, fats, carbs. Other foods or food categories are considered incredibly and absolutely beneficial such as raw salads, kale, raw foods, chocolate, olive oil and others.
For many decades, I demonized certain foods and food categories such as meats, fats, sugars and dairy products. I compiled evidence from studies and nutritional sources that these foods were horrendous for health and the cause of all major diseases such as cancer, heart disease and other degenerative illnesses that we suffer from in the modern world. I taught these in classes until a series of events led me to question this and many other ideas of about diet.
The major events that led me to seek other views was the deaths of several long time macrobiotic teachers from cancer and heart disease. All of these teachers were very careful about their diets, primarily eating a vegan style macrobiotic diet centered around grains, beans and vegetables with rare or no amounts of fish.
These events inspired me to look at different viewpoints of natural eating, such as the work of Dr. Weston A Price, and others who had studied traditional cultures’ healthy eating patterns. What I discovered amazed me because although healthy traditional cultures centered their diets around whole grains and vegetables, they valued and ate regularly natural dairy products, animal products, vegetable and animal fats, and sugars. I started to incorporate these foods into my diet and recommend them to my counseling clients with great benefits to myself, my family and the people I work with.
After studying, and practicing eating these foods, I started to see the major problems with ignoring the nuances in diet. For example, modern dairy products have been creating minor and serious health problems for people. I discovered that this had to do with the quality and processing of milk and milk products and not the milk alone. Unhomogenized or raw milk from grass fed cows naturally raised is highly nutritious and delicious.
Xanthine oxidase is a substance created when milk is homogenized. This substance has been implicated in causing forms of heart disease.
Low fat milk causes the minerals, calcium and magnesium not to be absorbed and is very hard on the digestive tract. Many nutrients are destroyed in the process of creating low fat milk including the oxidation of cholesterol which has been implicated in heart disease.
Milk from cows that are fed commercial grains creates milk that is high in pesticides that cause numerous health problems.
Pasteurization of milk creates digestive issues for many. If you have ever tasted raw milk from grass fed cows, you wouldn’t believe that you are drinking milk. To learn more about modern milk and the benefits of milk from healthy cows, read “The Untold Story of Milk” by Ron Schmid.
Red meat has been demonized. The problems with meat consumption are in reality much more nuanced. Modern meat is high in pesticides and has a different make up of fats because in order to fatten up the cattle, they are fed a high grain diet.
The natural diet of cows and steers is grass. When given grains as a main food, the fat content changes. It becomes higher in fat and higher in omega 6 fats. Pesticides concentrate in the fats from commercial grains. These pesticides act like an estrogen hormone throwing off hormonal balance and weakening the immunity if over consumed.
Natural meats such as pork, buffalo and lamb have an incredible array of nutrients that strengthen the body including b vitamins, mineral and amino acids. These meats are some of the most nutrient dense foods. As nutrient dense foods they have amazing strengthening and building effects on the body.
Arachidonic acid (AA) is often cited as a source of inflammation. Because AA is found primarily in eggs and meat, this concern could contribute to the view that red meat is inflammatory. AA is an essential omega-6 fatty acid that is a vital component of cell membranes and plays an important role in the inflammatory response. It’s especially necessary during periods of bodily growth or repair and is thus a natural and important component of breast milk. AA is sometimes portrayed as an acid to be avoided entirely simply because it is ‘inflammatory,’ but as usual, that view drastically oversimplifies what actually happens in the body.
It’s true that AA plays a role in inflammation, but that’s a good thing! It ensures that our body responds properly to a physical insult or pathogen, and it also helps ensure that the inflammatory response is turned off when it’s no longer needed. AA interacts with other omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in intricate and subtle ways. An imbalance in any of those fats has undesirable effects.
So the inflammatory effects of red meat are exaggerated. The way to balance this effect is to have some bone broths or gelatin powder regularly in your diet. The amino acids in bone broth and gelatin powder calm inflammation. This is why traditional people ate all parts of the animal to ensure balance.
Moderation is the key. I think it is important if one eats natural meats and animal products to have moderate portions such as 4-6 oz. servings and to vary the kinds you eat between fish, poultry and red meats. For therapeutic purposes, red meat is sometimes helpful to eat more often.
The over consumption of concentrated proteins can overstimulate the adrenal glands causing a stress reaction. This effect becomes worse when doing this in combination with emphasizing a low carbohydrate diet.
Diets that are truly plant based with natural animal foods daily have been the dietary foundations of the longevity cultures and other long-lived cultures around the world. Balance is more important than ideology.
For those who don’t wish to eat animals, I suggest either including high quality dairy products and eggs in the diet daily or to use supplements especially food concentrates to get nutrients that only come from animal source foods.
Many of the issues that are promoted as problematic with meat are completely false. Meat doesn’t rot in the gut, is not hard to digest, and doesn’t cause osteoporosis and many other health problems that it is blamed for. I address each of these myths in my Diagnosis+Nutrition TM Health Coach Training Program classes.
Beyond meats and dairy products, there are more nuances about the quantity and quality of foods that are considered the devil today or at least a close relative. The list includes for starters: sugars, gluten, fats and salt. In each of these food areas, the quality and quantity of the food you eat makes a difference. Sugars, gluten rich foods, fats and salt are all beneficial foods for health when they originate from particular natural foods.