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Red Meat: It Does a Body Good!


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why red meat is good for you, benefits of red meat
There are many benefits of red meat. stock.com/iofoto

This article is part of a special report on Red Meat. To see the other articles in this series, click here.

Over the past two decades, red meat has been increasingly blamed for everything from heart disease to cancer. Newspapers and magazines love to plaster alarmist headlines about red meat across their front pages, but as you might suspect if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, these claims are ill founded and misleading. In fact, an impartial review of the evidence indicates that red meat is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. But before we get into the health benefits of red meat, I want to take a moment to address the growing number of studies that tarnished its reputation in the first place.

Beef. It’s what’s for (a healthy) dinner. Tweet This

I’ve talked in the past about the limitations of observational studies in general, and not much has changed: they still cannot prove causation, and confounding variables still plague even the most skilled statisticians. One of the biggest specific problems with observational studies on red meat is what’s referred to as the “healthy user bias”. Since red meat has been vilified for years in the mainstream press, people who eat less of it are also more likely to less of other foods that are actually unhealthy (i.e. refined sugar, trans-fats, processed foods, etc.) and engage in healthier lifestyle choices (i.e. they are physically active, don’t smoke, etc.). Moreover, Food Frequency Questionnaires are still a problematic way to gather data about dietary intake. (Do you remember what you ate for lunch last Tuesday? Neither do I.) Based on these factors, it’s clear that individual epidemiological studies on red meat can’t prove much of anything, and looking at the body of evidence as a whole doesn’t do much to strengthen this argument.

For example, reviews of studies on red meat and cancer have reported inconclusive results. (1) Most studies show that the data on red meat and colorectal cancer, which has gotten more publicity than most other conditions red meat is supposed to cause, is insufficient to support a clear positive association between red meat consumption and colorectal cancer. (2) If you want a more detailed look at a couple of these individual studies, you can read my assessments here and here.

And despite claims by the popular media and mainstream medical establishment to the contrary, there’s no consistent evidence demonstrating that the saturated fat found in red meat significantly raises blood cholesterol levels. What’s more, large prospective studies involving almost 350,000 participants have found no association between saturated fat intake and coronary heart disease (CHD) or cardiovascular disease (CVD) (3).  In fact, one large study almost 60,000 Japanese women found an inverse association between saturated fat consumption and stroke: the more saturated fat participants ate, the lower their rate of stroke. (4) As most of you probably know, there’s much more to the cholesterol story than just “LDL = bad,” so rest assured that including red meat in your diet isn’t taking you one step closer to an early grave.

I think it’s safe to say that red meat has been unfairly blamed for the ills of Western society. But in case you still have doubts about ordering the steak, here are some more reasons red meat is actually an extremely healthy and nutrient-dense choice:

B Vitamins

Red meat is a rich source of vitamin B12, which is vital to proper functioning of nearly every system in your body. B12 deficiency can play a role in everything from aging, neurological disorders, and mental illness, to cancer, cardiovascular disease, and infertility. Red meat also contains significant levels of other B vitamins, including thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, folate, niacin, and vitamin B6. It’s crucial to get these vitamins from whole foods sources, rather than relying on government fortification of processed foods, and red meat is one of the easiest ways to ensure adequate intake.

Vitamin D

For people who don’t eat a lot of oily fish or receive a lot of direct sun exposure, red meat can contribute significantly to their overall vitamin D intake. (5) Red meat also contains a vitamin D metabolite called 25-hydroxycholecalciferol, which is assimilated much more quickly and easily than other dietary forms of vitamin D. In populations with low sun exposure, meat has been shown to be protective against rickets, a degenerative bone disease caused by severe vitamin D deficiency. (6) Interestingly, consumption of milk with the same levels of vitamin D does not provide this same protection, indicating that the vitamin D in meat is uniquely absorbable and useful to the human body.

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Red meat contains primarily heme iron, a form that is absorbed and utilized much more efficiently than the non-heme iron found in plant foods. (7) Furthermore, even small amounts of meat can aid in the absorption of non-heme iron. For people with iron overload conditions like hereditary hemochromatosis, it’s probably best to limit high-iron foods such as red meat, but for most of the population – especially those with iron-deficiency anemia – the iron from red meat is beneficial. This is particularly important for women who are pregnant or looking to become pregnant, as iron is crucial for the growth and development of the fetal brain.

Other Minerals

Red meat is an especially important source of zinc, because the other rich sources — organ meats and shellfish — are much less commonly consumed in our country. As with vitamin D and iron, the zinc present in red meat is highly bioavailable, and even a small amount of red meat in the diet can increase zinc utilization from all sources. (8) Zinc is an essential mineral that is an imperative part of many physiological functions, including structure in certain proteins and enzymes, and regulation of gene expression, and those eating meat-free diets are at greater risk of zinc deficiency. (9) Finally, to round out this impressive nutrient profile, red meat contains significant levels of other vital minerals such as magnesium, copper, cobalt, phosphorus, chromium, nickel, and selenium.

Why Red Meat Trumps White Meat

Some of the benefits I’ve mentioned thus far are not unique to red meat, but apply to animal flesh in general. For example, levels of B vitamins, vitamin D, and most of the trace minerals are just as high in white meat as in red. (10) However, red meat does have significantly more b12, iron, and zinc than white meat, and those things alone are enough to set it apart. Where red meat really shines, though, is in its fatty acid profile.

The fat of ruminants comprises approximately equal parts of saturated and monounsaturated fat, with only a small amount of polyunsaturated fat. (11) The unique ruminant digestive system ensures that these proportions stay relatively constant, regardless of what the animal eats. This makes red meat a better choice than pork or poultry for those that cannot afford pasture-raised meat, because you will still be getting mostly saturated and monounsaturated fats.

I hope this post has clarified some of the reasons that red meat is such a lauded food in the ancestral community. It’s full of highly absorbable nutrients, and it’s a better choice than pork or poultry if you can’t afford pastured meat. If you were scared of red meat before, maybe some of your fears have been allayed, and if you weren’t, you can feel even better about digging into your grass-fed burger (without the bun!) tonight. If you’re looking for great quality meat I would recommend ButcherBox.

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Join the conversation

  1. Chris,

    Apart from hemochromatosis, I also caution my readers to be careful with iron-rich foods or supplements when battling a case of gut dysbiosis as pathogens will use the iron to grow. This isn’t the red meat’s fault, of course, but the consequence of having an active gastrointestinal infection.

    Many people have experienced relief from their gut symptoms after I tell them to temporarily lay off the red meat. Of course the goal here is clearing up the dysbiosis so they can resume eating a healthy, nutrient-dense food full of the great things you mentioned in your post plus taurine, COQ-10, carnitine, and in the case of grass-fed beef, conjugated linoleic acid.

  2. Hi Chris,
    Your statement that the proportion of saturated to monounsaturated fats remain relativley constant regardless of what the animal eats only applies to pasture fed animals. Ruminant bacteria are affected by high acidity in the gut generated from grain digestion. So animals which are finished in feed lots effectively have their gut colonies slowly poisoned as the grain ration ramps up. Numerous studies have shown vast differences in not only the fat profile but overall nutrition of pasture vs. feedlot meat. Animals in feedlots are also pumped full of antibiotics etc to stave of infection from waste build up and large numbers in confined conditions.

    • I have covered the benefits of pasture-raised meats several times in several different places. I didn’t want to include it here because the point of this article is that red meat — even conventional red meat — is not associated with poor health outcomes. Certainly I advocate choosing pastured meat for numerous reasons (including the superior fatty acid profile), but even conventional meat has not been shown to cause cancer or heart disease as is often claimed.

      • I can’t get pastured meat at the moment, but I think our meat in Alberta does not have a lot of corn base feed in it.- at least in the finishing round. And I get it from a Chinese butcher on the two butcher days of the week. And the Chinese (Jews and Muslims) are pretty particular when it comes to wholesome foods. For example, I only buy my veggies from a Chinese grocery and the vegetables stay fresher longer in outside the fridge than what comes from large grocery chains. (My rule of thumb for value of truth or not is: a) if the grocery store refrigerates it, store in the refrigerator; b) otherwise keep separated in brown paper bags in a dark but airy environments. Blame granny for that one.

        Also, the chickens from my Chinese grocer are huge and grown locally which suggests they are not quick turn over grown. Frozen Pacific Pink Salmon is very inexpensive (55-56¢ pr 100g) and definitely Paleo pure. No farmed Atlantic Salmon, thank you very much.

        Chris, you are the first I have seen who has blatantly come out with the fact that regular meat may not be the best, but it is at least better than the fodder that is sold as packaged goods. We, who are Paleo, must at least try to make the best of what we can afford and find.

        Here’s an off topic point, Chris. I use a passive structured water unit that has improved my skin tremendously. The ultra fine horizontal lines on my palms have plumped up and my skin does not stay sunken when pressed in now. I soak all my meat in the structured water (and then pat-squeeze dry) and it is claimed structured water will heal or exclude the damage to meat and vegetables from pesticides and additives. I know I have seen health benefits from using the water in my shower, drinking, soaking of foods and in cooking. This might be an interesting topic for you to review. (I am not so sure about electrically alkalised water.)

        (I have examined a number of palms from young people in their twenties and was amazed many have the same thin horizontal lines on the palm below the thumb I suddenly found when I turned sixty a year ago.)

      • Chris,
        So commercial meat from feeding lots don’t cause cancer. That’s good news. We know, however, commercial red meat contains antibiotics & hormones, among other undesirables, such as GMO feed.
        Well, I’m on your side. I want to believe that consuming red meat is at least OK, in the sense that it’s not harmful. And the chief question here concerns commercial beef.
        It’s an important question. Most of my patients, for example, either don’t have access to or can’t afford grass-fed beef. Some have access to deer, and a few to local beef, but other alternatives are as expensive as grass-fed.
        So what guidelines, in terms of consumption, would you recommend for them, when it comes to beef?

        • Sorry, that post really wasn’t clear.
          The question should be, for those who can’t afford or don’t have access to grass-fed, local, or other desirable beef, and have to rely on the less expensive commercial beef from commercial feeding lots, what consumption guidelines would you recommend for them?
          Put another way, how would the recommended consumption guidelines, of grass-fed beef and ordinary commercial beef, differ?

  3. “Healthy User Bias” HUB! Yes, it is the HUB of the problem. I have been aware or at least had my suspicions about this bias for years. Vegan and Vegetarian studies compare against the typical SAD diet, lumping all meat eaters into the fold, so to speak. These people lie, they never question their food religion whilst I find Paleo people are always willing to look at their experiences with more open eyes.

    From my own ‘personal bias’ I have tried to be honest in my studies and have tried Atkins, Eat Right 4 your Blood (O) Type (practically Atkins for me), all the low carb diets, and finally Ornish. I do well on all things fat and protein from animals and put on weight, gang busters, on Ornish, following his book to the T, forgoing all fat and oils with a 3oz (100g) piece of lean white fish or chicken breast for supper. I gained forty pounds in four months (& I ate sparingly) and my triglycerides and cholesterol went through the roof from acceptable to dangers, such that the doctor wanted to put me on statins. I tossed prescriptions and freebees into bin on the way the the car.

    I returned to my usual Atkins, incorporating the rules from D’Adamo’s O blood diet and, Bob’s Your Uncle, I lost the weight gained, but more importantly, my specs went to fabulously safe and healthy. It took me a long time to lose it all as I was still cheating on ice cream, chocolate and nuts and beer. Sainthood is not in my genes, my friends.

    I now follow a mostly raw Paleo, Ketogenic high fat (70+%), moderate protein, (20+%) ultra low carb (<10%) with carbs coming from celery, broccolies, bell peppers, Kale, Spinach and the occasional apple or blue berries. Strangely, I no longer like beer and only imbibe the occasional Scotch and the occasional (month or so) run on ice cream or chocolate. I feel so good on this plan and only occasionally lightly cook hamburger to have on a slice of Besan-Tapioca-Rice bread. I am nearing my BMI weight for legally not-fat but I don't even believe in that kind of nonsense. And my specs continue to be amazing (Tri- 0.9 mmol.L and Chol <4.3 with higher HLD and low LDL – for what they are worth).

    And here is the strange part: my hip pain was excruciating since1981, when I tore something whilst living in Borneo away from mod med, to 2000 on D'Adamo and then moderate pain with limp progressing until I went true Paleo 2012, Jan. Now I have rarely a limp and I can walk kilometres and still have no pain. Can bone regenerate? The doctor in 2000 for statins had sent me to the cancer clinic for the hip bone scan. Someday I will have another scan to see.

    Now if only my eczema would totally go away. I am making my own Logo's Iodine (I2 + KI) as a wash and to imbibe, Sweet Almond Oil rub down, MoM Bicarbonate Magnesium drink + Magnesium Chloride skin rub + 15g Vitamin C in MoM daily drink. Things are looking up.

    Namaste, and care to all sentient beings across the universe, which is not expanding but constantly self generating and renewing. 🙂

    • Some people are saying they cured eczema with aloe vera capsules. I had a small spot and used carrot seed oil (a few drops) in the bath. Also, a dermatologist gave me some Vanos cream. I think I applied Burt’s Bee’s carrot seed cream on there topically too. Gone!

  4. So what is your take on the newest Mediterranean diet study done in spain and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which once again finds for a low-fat (especially red meat) diet plus the usual lots of fruit and veggies, olive oil, etc.?

    • It only found that a Mediterranean diet is associated with better health outcomes than a standard diet, which isn’t surprising given what’s standard. That doesn’t necessarily impugn red meat or saturated fat; it could very well have been (and likely was) other aspects of the “standard” diet that increased the risk of CVD.

  5. Thanks for the article Chris. Can a healthy person safely assume you are getting an adequate balance of micro-nutrients if you routinely eat beef 3-4 times per week, along with wild caught salmon 3-4 times per week, eggs several times per week?? (And of course, it would be remiss to forget that other solo macro-nutrient category of bacon.) If a person can’t make that assumption can you please reference a reliable source which identifies the suggested consumption ranges for the micro’s? I do recognize there are a variety of plant sources too, but I tend not to count on 100% bioavailability in plant sources. Once again: Thanks

  6. Pleased to see someone is checking out the whole picture and beginning to get past the partial truths of food industry advertising mind control. Beef is best and especially cold season grass fattened ‘fat of the land’ which ancient logic always held to be the best. Science is now proving this and if cold water fish is good then beef is better all round for our brains. They developed from eating the big game equivalent of cattle, allowing the brains to catch the fish. We cannot continue to deny history and the laws of nature and expect to sustain our health. There is evidence already that in the last few decade our average IQ has declined 8% or more( see ‘thought for food’ evidence to UK parliamentary enquiry circa 2009?)
    Beef bone broths are a cure for Osteoarthritis and many ills. Full of all the precursor’s for glutathione, the bodies most perfect antioxidant, as well as all essential nutrients in perfect balance for body, bone, and brain. I have been collating the evidence for years and the health attributes of cool season grass/ high carotenoid vegetation(not grains) is irrefutable, but I am a foolish grassland beef farmer of an almost extinct species. Birds have crops and gizzards designed to eat grains not like ruminants, designed to fatten on grasses etc to get through the winter and in turn get us through it the further we are domicile from the tropics . Connect the dots folks, grain fat beef is still much healthier than other meats. A fish pill is al it takes to balance the omega 6:3 ratio. Still I prefer nature’s answer, not to mention the carbon recycling of pastoral ruminant husbandry

    • Just an f.y.i. – there is recent research (which of course I cannot easily find now that I’m trying to look it up) that adding fish oil to a diet heavy in pufa can be very unhealthy. The body ends up overloaded with these fats, rather than “balancing” out the ratio. Chris’s site here has a recent, comprehensive article about fish oil, too, which I found useful and interesting.

      • Kate, please see above. The ancient beefeater ration used to be a little over 2 lb.per day. Modern science (Penn State optimum heart health study) indicates a little over 2lb per week or 5.25 ounces daily is best for heart health. Good grass fat beef has about 1000 mg per lb Omega 3 in the ground and much higher in some cuts. Per 5.25.oz serving the average difference in ground beef is 150 to 250mg.higher than grain fed. The average fish pill contains about 150mg. Recommended daily allowance-750mg.(Micheal a Crawford et al ) Therefore about half a lb. of good grass fed beef daily and a serving of sardines weekly does the trick. Before someone says this is excessive it is still less than the North American diet of all meats with chicken going from about 20lbs per capita to over 70lbs, heading for 90 lbs. at the expense of beef over the last 50 or so years. This so called healthy white meat may well turn out to be a real problem as it has become a grain derivative, very high in Omega 6 and totally out of balance compared to 50 years ago. You have to eat 6+today to get the same level of Omega 3 as 50yrs ago (24mg. compared to 170mg. Crawford) and 17 to get the same amount as in one wild cock pheasant. I believe the study about fish oil being unhealthy relates to trying to balance out unhealthy pufa omega 6 contained in a diet high in vegetable/ corn oils and not related to animal based sources but artificial processed so called healthy oils, which in my opinion, should only be used in engines, not of the human or animal species.

      • I have found that, for myself personally, fish oil seems to cause a bad reaction in my skin. I don’t know if this is just me but a teaspoon of Carlson’s leaves my face itchy and feeling inflamed with some acne showing up later. Allergy? Autoimmune-type reaction? I have no idea. But if I eat fish that isn’t a problem. Just a caveat that fish oil may not be a solution for everyone and perhaps isn’t so great after all. 2¢.

        • Algae-derived Omega 3s (DHA and EPA) are available online and in some natural foods stores. Perhaps they’d work better for you than fish oil.

    • Than you Laura and Chris, I have lived long (passed allotted time, 3 score and 10) and healthy. The prosper bit has been illusive since BSE (mad cow) 2000 miles to east, south and west, but will return again as the truth again becomes self evident.( Arthur Schopenhauer, three stages of truth) Started out in pastoral agriculture when the self evident truth in all such communities was to eat beef daily (Almost universally grass fat), fish weekly and all else in moderation. Have suffered through the ridicule stage of truth and now transiting the violent opposition stage locally, and believe through articles such as this; that I will live long enough for the truths of nature to again be self evident. For many years I smoked heavily into my late 50’s and stopped cold turkey because of peer pressure and 3 day flue. I then became addicted to see food and eat it, becoming obese and developing arthritis until ten years ago and Mad Cow trade restrictions caused intensive research into all things beef. Re-discovered that father, and many generation before were right, that we evolved eating the ‘fat of the land’, because of seasonally fat ruminants (beasts of a thousand hills) now mainly represented in modern grass fat beef. Also re-discovered benefits of beef bone broths, eating raw egg daily and half raw liver weekly together with some form of beef daily. Result, arthritis gone, lost some weight without trying, general health best in 15 years, excellent improved blood analysis, with low triglycerides etc and Doctor of many years astounded despite extreme financial stress due to BSE fallout and untended consequences of government policy locally. I now rarely eat chicken or pork, corn, sugary foods etc but eat at least 6 to 8 ounces of beef daily as do all very healthy children and grandchildren. We are very fortunate in this respect. We have been retailing our beef for ten years and have many health challenged customers reporting benefits. Anecdotal I know, but all these people cannot be wrong and I have come to believe beef with high carotenoid, cool season vegetation, i e. carrots, onions, cruciferous vegetables ( all with omega 6:3 ratios less than 4to 1) are best for temperate/ cold winter zones. After all we evolved following the herds of history to the limits of annual greening before domestication and pastoral agriculture. With reference to the fish pill to balance out grain fat beef, it is to balance the higher grain feeding induced Omega 6 which science now indicates is a problem.

      • Beefeater, save the use of onions and garlic, word for word my life has followed the lines you outlined. Yes, anecdotal, but it is from this that ancient, tried and trusted Grandma Laws were made. My younger siblings and older sister do not have the skin and health that I have. My twin has diabetes and will not listen to reason that it can be reversed. A younger brother has the onset of dementia but his wife, a nurse, thinks I am nuts- I don’t necessarily disagree but in crazy some great ideas have come forth- think the fool in King Lear.

        Muster on my friend: and point on garlic and onions- there are reports that they are poisonous. One claim is that in WW I, German soldiers rubbed their bullets in garlic as a hit was as good as dead. I mused over the idea that surely chefs cutting themselves whilst slicing garlic would have died but then thought maybe a cut would bleed profusely and wash away the danger. Whatever, there are interesting opinions on the subject to be found and I am not particular to either and have never experienced any purported benefits from their ingestion.

    • I found this recipe online. It is great for a lymphatic cleanse:

      Immune Broth Recipe

      Nourish and strengthen your immune system with this potassium-rich broth to powerfully repel disease.
      • This immune broth recipe provides you with plant chemicals (phytochemicals) that both help fight and help prevent disease.
      How and when to use:
      Consider this broth as a daily tonic to prevent flu and colds all winter long. If someone already has been hit, consider it as part of your treatment for flu, colds, sore throat, or any illness.In addition, consider the other healing tools we list.

      In my family, we had some of this almost every day during last winter. Once a week or so we would cook a double batch.

      When it wasn’t a cup or two on the side with dinner or as a snack, we used it:
      • to cook hot cereal in the morning,
      • to cook rice or lentils or
      • to add to stews or other dishes.
      • as stock for soup
      6 shitake mushrooms,
      1 reishi mushroom,
      1 ounce maitake mushroom,
      6 pieces astragalus root,
      1 piece kombu,
      4 carrots,
      1 large yellow onion (skin and all),
      1 bunch parsley,
      1 gallon distilled water.
      (Important to use disilled water, not tap or filtered or bottled water, in order to get the full benefit of the high potassium in the broth.)

      About the mushrooms:
      Fresh mushrooms are much more potent than dried.. The Whole Earth Center in Princeton almost always has fresh shitake and maitake. Reishi are difficult to find locally, but we get dried reishi from Mountain Rose Herbs. You can also make the broth without reishi.

  7. “Where red meat really shines, though, is in its fatty acid profile.” If, and only if that cow was pasture raised, grass-fed before you ate it; as opposed to being corn fed. The fatty acid profile in grass-fed cows is predominantly Omega-3, anti-inflammatory, whereas the fatty acid composition of grain/corn fed cows is predominantly Omega-6, pro-inflammatory, disease causing arachadonic acid

    • If you’d read the previous comments, that’s what everyone in this discussion is saying.

  8. I’ve been hearing a lot about red meat being inflammatory. Can you address some of those accusations? A friend of mine who has joint problems was told by her doctor to stay away from red meat because it causes inflammation in joints. Is this true?

    • I don’t think that it’s necessarily inflammatory, but it could be in some cases. There is no evidence that red meat contributes to higher fasting inflammatory markers unless it is overcooked http://www.pnas.org/content/99/24/15596.full (note, they are focusing on AGEs but it might not be the AGEs contained and might be the heterocyclic amines. Still, lower heat cooking techniques are probably better). http://jn.nutrition.org/content/137/2/363.long http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17413093 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22170364 It really hasn’t been well-studied, but controlled trials haven’t shown any obvious effect on fasting inflammatory markers.

      However there is one study where it increases fasting inflammatory markers, though depending on what you do you might be immune (look for the highest ranking post) http://paleohacks.com/questions/160751/inflammation-from-red-meat/160774#160774

      • I’m aware of this research but I’m still not convinced one way or the other. I’ve talked with Mat LaLonde about the fact that eating AGEs is much different than endogenous AGE formation. This is a complex subject, as you know, and I think we need to be careful about drawing conclusions from epidemiological and mechanistic studies. That said, I do agree that it’s probably best to favor low-temp/wet cooking methods for this and other reasons (ease of assimilation/absorption).

        • Yeah I’m not convinced it’s the AGEs either, it could be the heterocyclic amines, all they’re really doing is cooking the food at high temperatures and labeling it as a high AGE diet. But low heat cooking techniques still produce a lot of AGEs and seem benign. So it is probably something else. Still I think that it’s very likely that high heat cooking methods are harmful, whereas moderate ones are not. Heterocyclic amines detoxification can be modified many ways though, so who knows? I’m still not grilling without a good marinade.

  9. I just went to my doctor’s (OB) for my yearly exam. My cholesterol came at 220 (I am a 52 yr young female), my doctor told me that it was very high! And asked me what I was eating, (We’ve been Paleo/Primal for a year this Feb). When I told him he said that everything that I was eating was wrong!!
    Especially meats and eggs, no more he said. “You need to eat beans, lentils and whole grains”. No way I will go back to that! I couldn’t argue with him he just didn’t want to hear me at all 🙁

    • Sorry to say but time for a new doctor! If you want to learn about cholesterol in addition to what Chris has on his website, check out the 9 part series at the eatingacademy.com. Perhaps even better (and more succinct), check out Dr. Tom Dayspring on youtube. He has been lecturing on this subject for decades. He is an awesome teacher and favors a paleo or low carb approach (would never be recommending the grain approach). He did a couple interviews around December, 2012 with a guy running a gym and that will explain everything you need to know about cholesterol and how to determine whether you have any concerns. The 220 number really doesn’t tell you what you need to know, and as Dayspring explains is really outdated. Good luck.

    • Rossana, I had a similar thing happen. My cholesterol jumped up to 245 and I brought my number down to 189 by my five-month recheck by eating avocados for fiber. I told him I didn’t do grains, but I could see that was a concern, so I don’t talk about food at all with him. If asked directly, I answer protein, vegetables and fruit. We carry on a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. 🙂 Remember, your doctor is working for YOU and you’re in charge.

      • Rossana and Gibson, please give your doctors this list of books on the cholesterol myth. There’s no shortage of good information on this subject, and you would be doing them and their patients a favor.

        The Great Cholesterol Myth: Why Lowering Your Cholesterol Won’t Prevent Heart Disease-and the Statin-Free Plan That Will, by Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, and Stephen Sinatra, MD, FACC (2012)

        Fat and Cholesterol are Good for You, by Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD (2009)

        Know Your Fats : The Complete Primer for Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils and Cholesterol, by Mary Enig, PhD (2000)

        The Great Cholesterol Con: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About Cholesterol, Diet And Heart Disease Is Wrong!, by Anthony Colpo (2006)

        The Great Cholesterol Con: The Truth About What Really Causes Heart Disease and How to Avoid It, by Dr. Malcolm Kendrick (very humorous intro) (2008)

        Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health, by Gary Taubes (2008)

        The Cholesterol Myths: Exposing the Fallacy that Saturated Fat and Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease, by Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD (2000, 2002)

        Ignore the Awkward: How the Cholesterol Myths Are Kept Alive, by Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD (2010)

        Fats That Heal Fats that Kill, by Udo Erasmus (1993)

    • Your doctor’s advice is what worked for me. When my cholesterol was in the 230s at age 41, I switched to a whole foods, plant-based diet rather than go on a statin. At a three-month followup it had lowered to 176, with an excellent ratio. More importantly than the numbers, I had more energy and no longer got chest pains with exercise.

    • I have read a lot of information about cholesterol sulfate and it’s positive affects on the heart. I also know fiber is very important for binding of excess cholesterol. I read about a woman who lived to 117 and ate three eggs a day! There is more to this subject then we are aware of. Good day

  10. Hi Chris, I’m really enjoying the articles!

    Do you feel eating red meat is essential?

    I eat fish twice each day, typically salmon and tuna but sometimes catfish or shrimp. Pastured eggs and lots of pastured butter (cultured). Otherwise a primal diet with fruits, veggies, nuts, and potatoes, but also white rice. I don’t eat packaged foods, seed oils, etc. I haven’t eaten red meat or pork since 1998. Haven’t eaten fowl or consumed non-butter dairy since 2008. I ate vegan from 2008-09 before returning to fish, eggs, and butter. Drinking even pastured cow milk gives me severe mind fog. About to experiment with goat’s milk and cheese. And my goal this year is to begin eating mussels weekly.

    Given all that, is there something I would be missing from red meat, outside of variety?

    Also, two years ago I convined my wife to move from a strict vegan diet to one that includes clams and mussels every day, plus some pastured eggs and coconut oil. Thoughts?

    Thank you so much for all you’re doing. And thank you so much for the article on mercury in fish. I knew that stuff but I didn’t have a good place to send people who tried to argue it with me!

    • No, I don’t think it’s essential. Many healthy cultures ate only seafood and shellfish (Kitavans, for example). Clams are actually higher in B12 than beef liver. Most of the nutrients in red meat can be obtained from other foods.

      That said, the point of this article is that there’s no (nutritional) reason to avoid red meat.

      • Thank you, Chris. That’s sort of what I figured but sometimes there’s such a push for grassfed beef in paleo circles and I feel like I’m missing something.

        It’s been so long since I ate beef that while I’m sure I could learn to again it doesn’t smell apptezing anymore. And many people’s bacon obsession mystifies me. But maybe all the saturated fat I get from butter and coconut satisfies that craving.

      • Chris my question with an entirely seafood diet is zinc copper ratio. It would seem offset with no land based meat. Your thoughts on this subject, thank you!

  11. Chris, A specialist a family member saw for an autoimmune disorder recommended reducing stress, large doses of curcumin and pepper, and reduced red meat consumption. I don’t see this addressed above, but have you examined the evidence that red meat is more inflammatory than other protein-rich foods? From my reading, I’ve concluded that it is more important to eliminate high omega 6 oils than restrict red meat to reduce inflammation, but I’d value a more informed opinion.

    • No, I don’t think there’s any evidence that red meat is more inflammatory than other meats. On the contrary, red meat is likely to be less inflammatory than other meats because of it’s superior fatty acid profile — as I mentioned at the end of the article.

      • Thank you, Chris, I drew the same conclusion from red meat’s fatty acid profile. It is frustrating to hear from trusted medical professionals that red meat is inflammatory, when logic dictates otherwise, and no proof is offered. It is especially confusing when accompanied by other information I believe to be true, i.e. reducing stress and the curcumin. I still feel uncomfortable contradicting the advice given by that specialist, so I will instead recommend asking for evidence on that point. If any is forthcoming, I will share it here.

      • I have a question about eating raw eggs! Every time I undercook egg yolks, and I guess undercooked whites as well, I get diarrhea! I don’t cook eggs sunnyside up or soft boiled anymore. I always assumed it was from the salmonella in eggs! I am not known to have any allergies, and my colon is normally quite good; no leaky gut or inflammatory bowel conditions. I always ingest some form of probiotics, for 45 years! My diet includes a moderate amount of fiber from fruits, veggies, and brown rice. The ONLY time I get diarrhea is when I try to undercook my eggs! I love runny yolks; CAN’T EAT’EM! DO YOU HAVE ANY THOUGHTS?

    • I just watched that video and I was blown away… I have been moving towards raw for a few years now, I put raw eggs in my smoothie as well. I made salmon in lemon and lime juice the other night… Really yummy!

      I always get the runs when consuming raw or undercooked yolks (possibly whites as well).

  12. This is my big question since starting to eat whole foods/almost paleo. We only eat chicken and seafood because of what we were told after my father died from colon cancer at age 52. His father (my grandfather) also died of colon cancer at age 48. Those are some serious genetic risk factors. My grandfather is one of 6…3 died from some form of cancer young…3 are living still in their 80s. My aunt is a cervical cancer survivor. I feel like I have a 50/50 chance of cancer before 55…I am chicken to risk anything. Though I remember my dad once diagnosed ,was recommended adding Psyllium to his diet, and now studies show it is liked to colon cancer increase…GAH! Science is frustrating!

    • Grass-fed meat also contains CLA fat which is a better omega balance and prevents cancer in mice…

      • You don’t even want to concede that cooking it at high temperatures can form carcinogens and that this practice might contribute to the overall red meat risk? The epidemiology for grilling and well-done meat is very strong, I think that this obvious mechanism could at least justify the advice to watch how you cook it. It would end up weakening the anti-red-meat position though, because we could say that general epidemiology on it is unimpressive and that if people use lighter cooking techniques then there is even less risk.

        • That would be true regardless of what you cook: white meat, veggies, etc. I don’t think Chris is ignoring that point.

          • The point is that there is an extensive body of literature on the subject of red meat, cooking techniques and cancer risk, and he has clearly stated that he knows of no mechanism that could possibly link red meat to colorectal cancer risk. When you modify cooking techniques you modify your correlation, we can then state that one possible mechanism is the carcinogens formed from cooking. I guess it would require actually reading most of the research on the subject.

          • And that other foods may be harmful when cooked harshly is also besides the point, 1. People might be doing this to red meat far more frequently. 2. Vegetables and white meat benefit from the healthy user bias, grilling them is probably bad, however the issue as hand is the argument over red meat and cancer. My post was pointing out a critical component of the pro-meat argument: the increased cancer risk could be largely explained by a subset of red meat eaters who tend to use high carcinogen cooking techniques. This explains some of the association but isn’t an argument against red meat per se, only cooking it improperly. Confounding factors like associations with harmful foods not controlled for is probably important too. What is important to do when dealing with epidemiological arguments is to find as many possible explanations for an association besides “X food is inherently bad and we must reduce its consumption”, trying to falsify the hypothesis and weaken the argument.

            • In the Iowa Women’s Health Study, the strongest single risk factor for breast cancer was consumption of barbecued meat. The hazard ratio was 5 – five times the risk with the most barbecued meat consumption. I agree that red meat, especially grass fed, is not only a safe but healthy and desirable food. But eating red meat that is overcooked or barbecued – the favored technique of adding sugary barbecue sauce “helps” a lot – may well contribute to cancer risk. If people were to always carbonize their fish with a glaze of sugar, that might not be too healthy either, but I don’t know anyone who does that the way people do with barbecue. It’s definitely not healthy to breathe smoke, and not healthy to eat a lot of it either.

              Grass fed hamburger baked gently into a meat loaf or cooked into a chili or stew is probably better than cooking over a healthy flame.

              Colon cancer risk can be mitigated with plenty of soluble fiber consumption augmented by adequate phytochemicals and……..aspirin.

          • No it would not be the case when cooking veggies at high temps, because plants don’t have the amino acids and creatine that are found in meat. These components react at high temperatures to form the carcinogenic heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

      • Chris, You’re not exactly up to date on the studies.

        “The risk associated with specific red meat subtypes depended on the animal of origin and cancer subsite; thus, the risk for colon cancer was significantly elevated for higher intake of lamb [IRR(per 5g/d) = 1.07 (95% CI: 1.02-1.13)], whereas the risk for rectal cancer was elevated for higher intake of pork [IRR(per 25g/d) = 1.18 (95% CI: 1.02-1.36)]. Substitution of fish for red meat was associated with a significantly lower risk for colon cancer [IRR(per 25g/d) = 0.89 (95% CI: 0.80-0.99)] but not rectal cancer. Substitution of poultry for red meat did not reduce either risk. This study suggests that the risks for colon cancer and potentially for rectal cancer differ according to the specific red meat subtype consumed.” – From the highly respected Journal of Nutrition, February 20, 2013: Associations between Red Meat and Risks for Colon and Rectal Cancer Depend on the Type of Red Meat Consumed.

    • Danielle, my father died of colon cancer at the age of 52 as well. While I avoided meat for a long time thinking this was the best thing I could do, I now understand that colon cancer is related to refined vegetable oils, hydrogenated oils and sugar. I eat grassfed red meat with the knowledge that it contains a potent cancer-fighting nutrient CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), not present in corn and grainfed meat, along with all the other nutrients discussed above.

      • Thanks for the responses. It has been hard to make the switch back. I am still unsure. This is what my siblings and I have been avoiding for the last 8 years since he past. There is so much conflicting information out there. It is hard to know the truth, the motives behind studies. I just watched forks over knives the other day, and that China study stuff is frightening as well. When my dad was diagnosed he was told No Meat at all…or at least only organic chicken…I am leaning towards moderation and balance.

        • Have you read Denise Minger’s followups to Forks Over Knives and the China Study? She lays out a lot of good information that challenges some of the information presented. A simple google search will help you find them easily.

      • Avoiding meat still is the best thing you can do. While the risk of conditions like colon/bowel cancer are not exclusive to meat-eaters, eating red meat does significantly increase your risk. Modern studies all seem to be coming to the same conclusion – red meat is directly linked with many conditions and diseases and higher mortality rates. As I said in my original comment on the thread, apples don’t clog arteries and carrots don’t cause heart attacks. Red meat is dangerous. Fact.

        • Believe historical evidence and the natural world proves you very wrong. Plant eating ruminants(cattle-red meat) are a very necessary part of the carbon cycle. In fact down through the ages it can be argued their domestication resulted in civilization, allowing sustenance through winter or dormant growing periods needed by all plants for renewal. Through their manure(BS of value, not yours) they return Co2 from the atmosphere, back into soil fertility, whereas cropping or vegetarianism, volatilizes and adds to our problems.
          Down through the Annals of recorded history, grassland/ cattle husbandry and their manure have been used to prevent desertification and restore fertility lost through short sighted cropping practices.
          In fact in some cultures cattle are kept primarily for sustaining fertility. Written records from Roman Britain in the first century indicate about 2.8 tons of Farm Yard Manure are required per acre, annually, to replace any human edible crop harvested. In India 2% of the worlds land mass supports well over 20% of the worlds cattle. Yes 700 million people don’t eat the Holy cow but really worship what passes through them, for their housing, cooking and soil fertility/ composting needs. Another 400 million eat them and in fact India is now the worlds biggest exporter of beef.
          Also the recognized first input/output economist Francois Quesnay produced a chart proving agriculture was the source of all wealth(1755) and later (1767) as series of maxims for a sovereign nation. Maxim 14 states; favour the multiplication of cattle for their manure provides the richest of harvests. This is provable as true today as when written. Unfortunately he has been somewhat discredited by vested interests touting partial truths to obscure the whole. These type of truths you obviously believe. I just hope your are not health challenged before a self evident truth is realized.(see Schopenhauer, stages of truth).
          Finally it is no accident that Grass fattened Beef has the best balance of essential nutrients and is a complete food for heart, body and brain. There has been an increasing flood of peer reviewed, double blind studies verifying this lately. Such beef contains all essential nutrients in perfect balance for optimum human health, in heart/body/brain function. The ground beef of such classed at 70% lean, has roughly 20% calories from muscle cuts and 80% calories from fats. This is higher on average than most fish, with the marrow fats and some cuts including organ meats as high as wild cold water oily fish, salmon, herring, mackerel etc.
          This kind of diet has been proven to aid in the treatment of an increasing number of autoimmune diseases and has been known since the 1920’s to be beneficial in treating epilepsy. More recently it is being touted as beneficial for MS and other gut/brain problems when supplemented by green leafy vegetables high in sulfur such as members of the brassicas or cabbage family. Interestingly the carotenoids and plant antioxidants, eaten by the ruminants in the field are much higher than in the modern domesticated human edible vegetables. In fact such beef, depending on the cut, can be estimated to be 30 to 100 times the concentration of the best of nutrients in plants. This stands to reason because in nature the beef concentrate these nutrients into their flesh and fats and provide predator species, including humans with the suns growth, stored in their fats, to carry us through long winters.
          It is all simple logic that has and is providing me(along with many others so enlightened down through the ages) with a healthy life into my 70’s, with according to my Doctor, the blood work of someone in their 30’s.

    • I’ll wager that all your relatives ate bread and flour products. I believe that gluten/gliadin are the main causal factors of cancer and most degenerative/autoimmune diseases.
      You may have genetic risk factors. Probably you are susceptible. Eliminating grains and minimizing sugar would be my humble advice. That’s in line with Chris’s doctrine along with all his other good advice.

      • we are already gluten/dairy free….grain free basically…eating whole foods…nothing processed. The red meat has been my difficult decision.

        • Well Danielle you’ve ticked all the boxes then!
          Our ancestors ate red meat, hunter gatherers in Africa eat red meat and colon cancer is rare if at all. I eat grass fed lamb and beef. Lamb’s hearts and liver are the cheapest and probably the most nutritious. Grass fed beef is more expensive and for me regarded as a treat occasionally.

          You can only do so much and then you have to hope for the best. The longer you stay with your current regime, the better your chances of avoiding cancer. That’s my way of thinking. Only time will tell.

    • Danielle – cervical cancer is not genetic. Virtually all cervical cancer is caused by the human papilloma virus. There are rare cases of cervical cancer related to an anti-nausea drug used during pregnancy in the 60’s, but other than that, it’s because of HPV. Of course, most humans that are sexually active are exposed to HPV, so that doesn’t mean you’re not at risk for cervical cancer. It’s just not due to genetics. Best way to prevent cervical cancer is to get regular pap smears to look for signs of cell dysplasia and catch them early.

    • My father died of colon cancer at age 53! He ate what was thought to be a healthy well-rounded diet for the day. Because of this, I succumbed to “health advice” and stopped eating beef. At 63 I still got a heart attack! I remembered that, as an artist using oil paints, my father warned me not to breath the benzene he used to clean his brushes. Benzene is on the known carcinogen list! I’m now of the opinion that benzene caused his cancer, not his diet! Now, at 70, I have begun to enjoy beef again, as well as dairy with the fat. I play tennis. My weight is within guidelines for health, at 168lbs on a light boned 6’1” frame. When I had my heart attack I weighed 215 lbs! It was from sugar intake, and mostly physical inactivity; not beef or other meats!

    • One thing we know for sure… cancer cannot live without sugar (even natural sugars in fruits, etc.) so one way to cancer PROOF yourself is to eliminate ALL sugars from your diet. I did it fairly easily. Sugars are the FOOD for cancer cells. They LOVE it and don’t “eat” anything else.

      • I have read about cancer cells thriving on glucose also. Interesting concept. It may slow the progression down at least. There is an abundance of articles on this subject online.

  13. I used to eat mostly pasture raised chicken and occasional pastured beef. Now I’ve reversed that

    Chicken isn’t even interesting anymore. And white meat is boring

    Been going through your podcasts one by one too now Chris. Glad to have found you

  14. Chris- I find it hard to get grass fed meat where I am. I always try to not eat conventional feed lot but sometimes I just think its better than chicken. Is the feedlot stuff really that bad?

    • Ray- Grass fed meat is definitely better. A high grain diet slowly poisons the animal, killing off the runem bacteria. It’s like taking steroids; weight increases quickly, but the meat ends up energy rich and nutrient poor. The confined contitions allow no excercise, which causes the muscles to lose condition, hence the soft texture of the meat and the anitbiotics they are pumped full of linger on in the meat.

  15. Once in a while I hear that raw beef is healthier than cooked beef. I am not sure but I think Mat LaLonde PhD at one point ate raw beef. What are your thoughts on that?

    • I would at least cook the outside and leave it rare on the inside. That kills any potentially bad critters living on/near the surface while minimizing oxidation internal nutrients.

      • And before the e-coli infestation of hamburger meats, in the 50’s and 60’s, I used to lick the raw hamburger from my fingers while I was making burgers! Again, I remained healthy! I wouldn’t do it now!

  16. Great post! There’s no point vilifying such a nutrient-dense food. I’ll gladly enjoy the venison roast I have in my crockpot today tonight.

  17. Fiona: is that true of both pastured red meat and conventionally-raised red meat?

    • Always amazes me how natural food gets bad press and we are encouraged to eat food such as margarine (which is basically chemicals ) rather than real butter. Real meat, fresh vegetables and fish. We should stop stuffing our faces with processed food.

    • Chris
      I’ve no idea where my local butcher (long retired) was getting his meat from but between, say, 1970 and 1980 but I suppose farming methods here in the UK were better than they are now, i.e. that it may all have been pastured. In restaurants it was very popular to eat Aberdeen Angus steaks and I they were supposed to be very high quality, i.e. again pastured. Lamb was my worst enemy: that as most likely to have been pasture fed.

      I can’t answer your question, and if I were to experiment now I doubt I could afford the best pastured meat!

      • Hi again Fiona,
        Late sixties on barley beef was introduced and Angus was the breed of choice crossed with continental breeds. Therefore you Angus beef may not have been grass fattened depending on what area of UK. Bull beef from the Dairy herd was introduced about this time. This was because of cheaper grain and most British breeds, put on hot rations of barley became ‘butter balls’. I was in Northumberland until 1974 and the argument amongst old stockmen grazier’s was that the grass fat was where all the good was and the grain fat was like pigs. too much caused stroke. The ancestral wisdom of these old stockmen is now being proven in many respects by modern science.

      • Hi fiona,

        There is a BIG difference between heavy commercial grown cattle and selfsustained fields in wich cattle thrives. And cooking the meat at very high temperatures using margerines and just simply cooking for a short time so the meat is rare.

        Now, just imagine the Difference In cooking a grain fed piece of meat full of antibiotics, anti inflammatory and vaccines on margerine and a steak from a grass fed, chemical free on the grill just over raw.

        I think that is the difference between meat that is good for you and the onde that is not.

  18. My problem is that red meat, especially lamb, always makes my osteo arthritis worse, so I stick to chicken,
    fish and shellfish. Any ideas why this should happen?

    • Arthritis is hypothesized to be an autoimmune disease. Autoimmunity hurts because of chronic inflammation. Read on…


      Dr. Varki proposes [a] theory. When humans ingest the flesh or milk of any mammal, they absorb Neu5Gc and treat it the same way as an invading germ, so they make antibodies against it. This turns on their immunity and keeps it active so it eventually attacks the host itself, the human body. This is called chronic inflammation, which can lead to heart attacks, strokes, cancers and so forth.

      Neu5Gc is found in high levels in tumors, with the highest levels in metastasizing tumors. In our food supply, Dr. Varki found very high levels of Neu5Gc in beef, pork, lamb and goat, and moderately high amounts in milk and cheese. Low levels are found in turkey, duck, chicken and eggs; and negligible amounts occur in plants and seafood.

      End article sample.

      Neu5Gc comes from mammal meat. Do tumors collect Neu5Gc like Amyloid plaques in Alzhimer brains collect Aluminum or is there causation involved? Jury’s out, but caution is STILL warranted.

      • imppress,

        If this theory is valid, why do so many people, myself included, experience the onset of autoimmune diseases when they shun red meat and go vegetarian? And why do they experience improvement when they start eating animal products again, including red meat?

        • Cathryn,
          Agree with you, many of my customers are former vegetarians.
          Fiona Weir,
          The following post re osteoarthritis was intended as reply to you re your experience.
          Re reference to red meat and breast cancer. I find this impossible to believe. Tribes around the world followed big game ruminants and their modern descendents in the form of cattle to the ends of the annual greening around the world with what are now known as the essential fatty acids including Omega 3’s in balance with other fats, even more prized than the lean muscle meat. Incidence of breast cancers were unheard of until modern sugar/grain based processed foods introduced. Evidence appears to indicate that 750mg omega 3’s daily protects for many cancers and inflammatory diseases of body, bone and brain.
          Latest evidence Canadian indicates this includes breast cancer.

          • Further many tribes and beef eating people ate the equivalent of up to 2lbs of red meat daily.
            Modern grass fattened beef to Canadian AA or US low choice fat content tests over 200 mg per 100g. Omega 3 in 6:3 ratio balance over only a little over 1to1 in the ground beef. This is roughly 1000mg per lb. and 3/4 lb daily gives all the recommended Omega 3’s for optimum health.
            Most active persons, living naturally, eating grass fattened red meats would easily exceed this amount. The average consumption in all western and other modern societies with the epidemic of modern disease, is as I understand it less than 300mg Omega 3 per day, out of balance with omega 6 at 20 to 1. This imbalance all comes from the so called vegetarian meats, ie grain fed and processed grains/oil seeds. Chris is right but vested interests will continue to confuse and muddy the waters, especially with our human trait of indulgence and to follow the pie-eyed piper or believe industry spin.

          • “Incidence of breast cancers were unheard of until modern sugar/grain based processed foods introduced.”

            For your statement here, the key words are “sugar” and “grain”. Cancers love sugar. But, just curious, what does this have to do with red meat?

            • Cancer was unheard of? Do you even know where the word ‘cancer’ comes from? It comes from Ancient Greece. People back then had expereinced cancer, many Ancient Egyptian mummies were found with cancer cells. Even Hitler’s mother died of cancer.

              Just because people were ignorant of medicine and didn’t know how to properly define diseases, does not mean there was any less cancer than there is now.

              • In response to cancer being prevalent in Greece/Egypt/Hilter/whatever time period of civilization:

                This is invalid for disproving a correlation between grains or foods of agriculture.

                Because there was not much written record in hunter-gatherer times, it is (as far as I know) perhaps difficult to say whether there was cancer/diabetes, etc. in **hunter-gather** times or societies.

                Cancer existing in ancient Greece or ancient Egypt is not inconsistent with grains or other agricultural society foods causing a deterioration of health.

                Ancient Greece or Egypt ARE neolithic societies who farmed and store grains and legumes.

                (This is not to say that paleolithic peoples did not have cancers — simply that I don’t know of evidence, and that “Ancient Greece,” “Ancient Egypt,” or “Ancient X Society” is often used as an example of health problems in past centuries.

                But, the exact premise of paleolithic health has to do with hunter-gatherer lifestyles, and those examples are of sedentary/farming lifestyles.

                Unfortunately, the societies which (had time to have?) developed writing and records largely are… neolithic farming ones who could store up a surplus of food.

                (Although I believe the sugar trade was not very large back then, so one could potentially speculate on the difference in health and difference in usage of sugar between Ancient Greek/Egyptian times and the past couple of centuries or more.)

                “Cancer was unheard of? Do you even know where the word ‘cancer’ comes from? It comes from Ancient Greece. People back then had expereinced cancer, many Ancient Egyptian mummies were found with cancer cells. Even Hitler’s mother died of cancer.”

        • Unofrtunately, an error in this discussion occurred right at the start – Fiona refers to osteoarthritis which is primarily due to damage from mechanical stress, insufficient self repair by joints and decreasing water content of the cartilage. Inflammation may occur when breakdown products from the cartilage are released into the synovial space and the cells lining the joint attempt to remove them but the inflammation is usually mild compared to that in rheumatoid arthritis which IS an autoimmune disorder.

        • The mind is a powerful entity and you have convinced yourself that you do better on red meat despite all the good evidence that shows animal product protein in large amounts is not healthy.
          Why not look at some of the longest living and healthiest cultures for your information? There are none that are large red meat eaters!

      • Thanks, Imppress, and others who’ve mentioned my name. The lead to Dr Varki seemed to fit me very well, including avoidance of milk and milk products (I try ewe’s-milk cheese occasionally because I like it but always get a headache). I eat white fish but also try to get my Omega 3 from salmon, trout, sardines, etc.

        My ancestry, by the way, is only partly Scottish, my great-granfather having come from southern Italy, and my inclination is towards a Mediterranean diet with plenty of virgin olive oil. Unfortunately I find I’m better avoiding the gluten in wheat, so it’s wholegrain rice instead of pasta. I seem to need plenty of carbohydrate as I’m very underweight: I’m sure you experts will tell me I’m doing it all wrong – my own GP just says ‘eat more’, but, typically seems to know very little about diet (some years ago she said I should have a little glass of wine for my elevenses and a a salami sandwich!)

    • Fiona. I would recommend you eat less inflammatory ‘muscle meats’, and choose proteins that are less inflammatory. Too much muscle meat is problematic, leading to thyroid suppression, inflammation and stress. Muscle meat is high in the inflammatory amino acids tryptophan, cysteine and methionine.

      Choose white fish, shellfish, liver, dairy, egg yolks and more of the gelatinous cuts of meat (or get some Great Lakes Gelatine, which is anti-inflammatory). If you do eat meat, you could have some bone broth on the side to balance the amino-acids. You also need to balance your protein intake with calcium (I get mine from dairy and powdered eggshell). Also the source and quality of the meat you eat can make a difference. As they say, ‘What’s your diet’s diet?’.

      Polyunsaturated fat (PUFA) content should also be considered. Chicken meat contains more unsaturated fats than beef and lamb. Fatty fish has larger amounts of PUFA, making white low-fat fish a better choice.



    • I may be wrong but your name indicates a Scottish UK border ancestry, The land of the ‘Riding families or Border Reivers, These people lived off meat and milk and were superb horsemen when Julius Caesar invaded over two thousand years ago and his legions tried to conquer according to his writings. I therefore find very difficult to believe red meat is your problem unless you are not getting enough fat. From my research, Sperm whales, beaver , white mice and cattle have a unique anti- arthritic fat called Omega 5 in the fat profile. This is supposedly a straw coloured liquid fat, similar to anti-inflammatory Omega 3’s which forms just below the solid fat on cooling bone broths made only from marrow/ knuckle beef bones, Other than cattle the other sources are not generally available or appealing. My mother ended up in a wheel chair for almost 20 years with osteo arthritis, whereas father lived very healthy well into his 90’s before falling and braking his hip and giving up. Both were from the same genetic stock and ate the same for over 60 years, except mother developed a sweet tooth and believed margarine was.healthy. This caused great argument as father refused to eat the margarine or eat modern chickens from the 60’s on. We ate mainly lamb and beef and wild pheasant in season. We had beef of some form daily but not too much pork except bacon because he and many other shepherd/ stockmen believed too much pork caused strokes. When I was diagnosed with arthritis in hip and knee ten years ago I was told I had a genetic disposition to it because the same doctor had attended to my mother years before. I refused to accept this and began researching, realising that my mother had the biggest sweet tooth of my relatives and suffered the most. My wife had also developed arthritis in her hands and had eased the pain by stopping taking sugar. I did the same and me wife re discovered bone broths, regularly eating them with vegetable beef soups weekly. Within a few weeks my pains disappeared and I am healthier than in the last 15 years. After the fact while still researching I came across the omega 5 anti-arthritic discovery evidence of Harry W Diehl who patented his discovery in the 1970’s. I credit this with the reversal of my arthritis and believe it would have helped my mother. Hope this helps

      • Beefeater
        I’m told that long before the days of the reivers, all the inhabitants would have lived on the coast and survived on seafood – I’m sorry I can’t give you a historical reference except my brother-in-law’s hearsay, and it’s all a long time ago!

        • Fiona Weir
          1. It is my understanding that the tribes of Briton lived on meat and milk according to the writings of Julius Caesar Pre 56 BC. well over a 1300 years before the Border Rievers era.
          2. Archeological evidence indicates humans were big game hunters (Ruminant cattle equivalents) over a million years, and got our brains before learning to catch fish. According to the science we have been eating fish in any amount for about 20,000 years and domesticated cattle about 10,000 years ago. There is some evidence from archeological digs of milk being consumed in Briton about 5,000 years ago.
          I cannot find if lamb has the arthritis curing Omega 5 fat and it would appear not. I know for a fact that tests on our grass fattened beef show it is in the fat profile of out door fattened cattle also high in vitamin’s A,E,D and K plus omega 3’s.
          The following link may help. Arthritis can be reversed and at least pain free. Good Luck.

      • What great information, Beefeater. Thanks for sharing. I’m definitely getting into bone broth soon. It’s highly advocated by the primal/paleo lifestyle. 🙂

    • Fiona, have you ever looked at Dr Peter D’Adamo’s book on blood types. Being an O blood, lamb and beef make me feel very good when I consume them but pork and chicken don’t seem to do much for my sense of health or wellbeing after a meal.

      Lamb and other red meats are not on the list of healthy or even neutral foods for people of the A blood group but are claimed detrimental. Chicken and certain fishes are indicated as neutral for this type whom, D’Adamo claims, are better off as mostly vegetarian.

      What a complicated exercise is this table game!

      • D’Adamo’s blood type diet theory was debunked in a study at University of Toronto this past year.

    • When meat and other dead and cooked things are digested it turns acidic..acid reflux kinda thing. It puts some acid in our lymph and would change the Ph of our blood but that would end in death, so.. your body needs to take proteins and calcium out of our bones and tissues in order to balance the Ph of our blood.. so that we dont die when we eat stuff. that may or may not have something to do with pain in your bones. 😀

      • Actually, the real problem is sugar and gluten. Sugar is highly carcinogenic and gluten is inflammatory. Meat provides vitamins, minerals and the healthiest source of fats in comparison to all the processed crap people eat in an attempt to avoid animal products. If the problem was meat, Steve Jobs wouldn’t have died of pancreatic cancer. He was fruitarian, full of lovely, all-natural super foods.

        • Then why do consumers of red meat have higher rates of many types of cancer than vegans and vegetarians? Jobs’s cancer started long before he changed his diet. It’s possible that he lived longer than he would have if he hadn’t changed it. But it probably would have been better to couple his dietary changes with conventional treatments from the start.

    • The ill effects are not from the red meat itself but from what they feed the cows. Have you tried grass fed?

      • Exactly,

        Just like a carnivore you should eat your meat from a savage kind of state, living in the wild, or at least from a animal raised in a organic, natural grass , chemicals, pollutants free and eat it almost raw. I drink raw cows milk and raw organic egg yokes, i believe you nerd animal products in your diet, but GOOD animal meat

    • When the body eats certain meats excess uric acid is produced which makes inflammation of the joints worse.

    • Fiona wrote “My problem is that red meat, especially lamb, always makes my osteo arthritis worse, so I stick to chicken,
      fish and shellfish. Any ideas why this should happen?”

      Yes, Fiona, I can answer that. It’s because red meat (or any other dead flesh) pollutes the body and is VERY bad for you. People who believe this foolish article may pay a big price for simply believing anything they read.

      • Dear Carl,
        Red meat and dead flesh, is vitally beneficial for good and optimum human health as shown by results in vegan versus omnivorous living, fundamentally, considering only minimally and necessary processing.
        I’ve been through it all, fundamental veganism is not healthy for me as a whole diet,.. it needs animal products, and not just eggs and milk, but flesh and such also, red meat being most vital in some cases, red meat being most healing as a food, in some cases.
        Fruits and vegetables are important and beneficial as well.
        Prudent Omnivorism.
        And, btw, alcoholic beverages are also healthy in moderation as prudently desired, not for getting drunk or ‘off’. It’s just just good and healthy as one can readily feel and sense.

      • Carl…I would look at other foods you are consuming…like grains if you eat grains especially wheat…all wheat…
        One year I was offered a cheap source of feed supply that was wheat middlings. I fed my piggie herd the wheat soaked water for 24 hours, alfalfa hay, and pasture.
        It is when I went to wheat as my grain base that I started having piggies develop arthritis and go lame.
        My piggies are not on cement either in fact they were free ranging coming into the barn to escape summer heat, to get fed, and to sleep.
        Other problems I had feeding wheat was birth defects, small litters, odd sized litters, and piggies that were not producing.
        Then there was the joint problems and the lameness issues. I had none of those problems before adding the wheat. It took 6 months of not feeding wheat until the herd went back to normal.
        No more arthritis, birth deformities (cleft palets, deformed hind legs, huge babies, extra small babies) no more problems just by eliminating wheat from their diets.
        I have done my best to eliminate anything but single ingredient foods to my own diet. Nothing bagged, canned, frozen, processed, no commercial yogurts and I consume raw cows milk. I can’t drink the processed milk but I can drink it directly from the producer.

        • And I might add to those wheat middlings were certified organic…non GMO even…

        • Dawn Carroll,
          That is very interesting, and thank you for posting this information about your piggies.
          At our house, we drink raw milk, and eat meat from animals that are pastured and grass-fed. I do believe that what the animals eat is very important.

    • I recently got sciatica, ostensibly from a falling injury. My x-rays showed osteoporosis and osteoarthritis! Oy! However, due to my own research and email from a friend, I was aware that, among other minerals, especially calcium, potassium, and magnesium, boron plays a very important role in calcium-magnesium metabolism, and lack of it is claimed to be causative of arthritis. Because of industrial farming practices the deplete or block boron uptake from soil, general human populations, especially in industrialized nations, do not get enough boron in their diets. Israel is naturally high in boron, and the Israeli population has less arthritis than most populations on Earth, less than 1%, compared to 20% in the US, England, and Australia! Please read this article, decide for yourself:


      The article describes how boron reverses negative processes that cause arthritis, and then arthritis is healed.
      I have been taking borax as described in the article for only a month, and am already noticing benefits, especially the disappearance of a bony growth on my finger (calcium in the wrong place), less sciatic pain (I am also stretching), improved sexuality, and improved general well-being. Boron is important in many important processes for every part of the body, and therefor for overall health. I couldn’t walk upright without pain two months ago. Now, while not totally pain free, it has greatly reduced and I am playing tennis again. I recently began eating a large tablespoon of dark molasses every day. It is a healthy sweetener usable as you would use sugar, without the bad effects of sucrose! It is very high in critically important mineral content for strong bones and also general well-being.

      I have one idea why eating lamb would increase pain. It is probably related to some mineral or enzyme or other component of lamb that is higher than in other food sources. If I eat a lot of lamb, my lip herpes comes out, probably related to arginine. I take lysine and eat high lysine foods, and it goes away! Good luck with your arthritis. I’ll keep you posted on my progress. I’d love to hear from you about anything you wish to discuss.

      • Add silica to the list of important minerals for bone strength! It is available from other sources, such as cucumber, whole grains like brown rice, and beer (from the hops). This info was from James, who moderates this blog conversation.

  19. Amazes me people still hold onto old/false beliefs like that. Let’s not take a look at what is done to the cows beforehand, let’s just bash an actual food. SMH