By: Molly Force, ND
What I am about to share with you may come as a shock. It may be counter to everything you were told about choosing a healthy diet. Brace yourself. I believe meat can be healthy and good for you, even red meat!
Forget what the mainstream media has told you about animal proteins and fats. Much of their information is outdated and confused. Eating animal proteins found in fish, meat, and eggs are actually quite beneficial and, in many ways, essential for your health. Complete avoidance of animal proteins may deprive your body of necessary building blocks for everyday function including growth, maintenance, and repair. So how can all the studies claiming meat (especially red meat) is unhealthy be so wrong?
Pay attention now! Here is the key: Not all meat is created equal. Many of the reasons meat has gotten a bad reputation comes down to what our animals have been fed. Part of this is simple nutrition. Think of grass fed pasture raised versus the conventionally raised grain fed animals. It’s kind of like comparing your decision to have a salad for dinner versus a big bag of corn chips.
Grass fed meat provides you a rich nutritional experience where as animals raised on grains are lacking. The cool science behind this has to do with how the pH of the animal’s intestinal system is changed when it eats grains rather than it’s natural diet of grasses. The animal’s probiotics (helpful intestinal bacteria) have evolved to ferment grasses not grains. Abnormal fermentation changes the digestive chemistry and ultimately inhibits grain fed animals from proper absorption and production of healthy fatty acids, amino acids, vitamins, and enzymes. You may be surprised to learn that even if a grass fed cow is fed grains for just 30 days, its digestive chemistry changes so quickly it can offset 200 days of healthy nutrients gained from grazing.¹
You will benefit from healthy anti-inflammatory fats (CLA and omega-3s), vitamins (B12 and D), iron, and protein found in grass fed meats. Conventionally raised animals are fed grains in order to quickly bulk up weight which increases profit margins. Grain fed meats sadly contain more pro-inflammatory fats and proteins, which explains why the media is often labeling these meats as unhealthy. You may want to also consider that most of these poor, grain fed animals are fed a diet of GMO corn and soy. GMOs influence not only health, but also environmental and political aspects of the tax-dollar subsidized food industry. Vote with your dollar! Know where your meat comes from and what it’s been fed. The easiest way to do that is to buy local.
We are lucky to have local access some of the finest grass-fed and pasture-raised animal products available from our community of farmers. When it comes to beef, all the meat Short’s Family Farm sells is 100% grass-fed. The Westbrook beef sold at the Corner is 100% grass-fed, except for a small amount of supplemental grain given when they are first weaned. The Bishop beef (rarely a young heifer raised organically to be a dairy cow is found to be infertile) is supplemented minimally by certified organic grain (no corn, no soy) as is required for Organic Valley. Do not shy away from purchasing frozen meat. It maintains its nutritional value locking in freshness, keeping the healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals from degrading. Including nutrient dense organ meats and bones in your diet as well will provide your body with even more desirable building blocks.
Remember, choose grass-fed pastured meat over conventionally raised meat whenever possible. It benefits the animal and it benefits you.
Dr. Molly Force is a licensed naturopathic family physician who specializes in combining natural healing with conventional medical diagnosis and therapy. Her practice and natural apothecary, Prosper Natural Health, and therapeutic yoga studio, Prosper Bodyworks, is located in Port Townsend. She can be reached at www.ProsperNaturalHealth.com or 360-385- 5375.
1. Cynthia A. Daley, et al. “A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef.” Nutrition Journal. 9:10, 2010