By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat
Once again, we are hit with yet another study claiming that red meat increases our chances of getting a horrible disease—Type 2 diabetes. It joins a host of other studies claiming that eating red meat increases the chances of just about every chronic disease you can think of. In fact, since humanity ate mainly red meat and saturated animal fat for most of its existence, we must be extinct, since all those diseases would have wiped us out long ago, when we got almost all our calories from meat and fat. All of these studies still have one thing in common. They totally fail to distinguish between the factory meat that did not exist until the twentieth century; and grassfed and wild meat, which has been the basic food of humanity for most of its existence. Since all the studies claiming that meat is unhealthy are based on people eating factory meat, these studies are totally meaningless when it comes to grassfed meat.
Grassfed Meat Is Different
There are many differences between the composition of grassfed meat, and factory meat.
Grassfed Meat Has:
- A perfect balance of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids;
- Considerably more CLA (conjugated linoleic acid);
- The benefits of having the animals eat the food they were evolved to eat, which is natural for them;
- A natural balance of nutrients, which our bodies have evolved to use over hundreds of thousands of years, if not more.
Factory Meat Has:
- A gross imbalance of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids, which does not occur in nature;
- Far less CLA;
- The detriments of having the animals eat a totally unnatural diet in the feedlot, including GMO soy, GMO corn, animal by-products, restaurant waste, and many other things that were never the natural food of grass-eating animals;
- An unnatural balance of substances in the meat, often including growth hormones, antibiotics, chemical residues, and others.
The very composition of the two kinds of meat is so different that consumption of factory meat is very different than eating grassfed meat.
The Study Fails to Prove that Eating Red Meat Increases the Risk of Diabetes
As I once wrote before, it is crucial to study the study before you blindly believe the conclusions drawn from the data. I have carefully looked at the latest study, and my own opinion is that it has no proof that any kind of unprocessed meat increases the risk of diabetes.
Why did I reach this conclusion?
The study concluded that eating red meat was associated with an increase in Type 2 diabetes, and seemed to recommend that people stop eating red meat on a regular basis.
But the data was inconclusive, with even the scientists who conducted the study admitting that it was hard to pinpoint the actual dietary factors that caused an increase in Type 2 diabetes risk.
The study was limited to roughly 60,000 doctors and nurses, and consisted mainly of reviewing food questionnaires sent in by the participants over a multi-year period.
The study did find a correlation in increased Type 2 diabetes risk by those who ate the most red meat. The increase for those who ate unprocessed meat was approximately one-third the risk increase of those who ate processed meat. But the data also showed the following:
- Those who ate more meat also consumed more sugary soft drinks;
- Those who ate more meat also ate considerably more calories, which almost certainly included a lot of refined high-carbohydrate foods;
- Those who ate more meat drank more alcohol.
Many studies and other research have shown that increased consumption of sugar (from the soft drinks), alcohol, and refined high-carb foods is directly related to causing Type 2 diabetes.
The people who ate more sugar, more alcohol, and more refined carbohydrates had a higher incidence of diabetes, which is exactly what you would expect, regardless of their meat consumption. Since we know that sugar, refined carbohydrates, and alcohol can cause Type 2 diabetes, the amount of meat eaten proves nothing.
But what about the result that eating processed meat had a much higher risk factor than eating unprocessed meat?
The answer is simple. Almost all factory-processed meats contain substantial amounts of added sugar, whether in the form of sucrose, fructose, dextrose, or just sugar. In addition, almost all factory-processed meats contain substantial amounts of industrial salt, which often has sugar added to it. In other words, the people who consume more of these processed meats are consuming more sugar. In other words, the sugar added to the processed meat would increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes, all by itself.
It is totally unknown whether the consumption of meat has any relevance at all to the risk of Type 2 diabetes, because you cannot separate it from the consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates in this study. It is impossible to know whether the increase was caused just by the higher intake of sugar, alcohol, and refined carbohydrates; or by the combination of this with more red meat; or by red meat alone.
Although I believe the researchers to be sincere, their conclusion that red meat causes an increase in the risk of Type 2 diabetes is not supported by the data in their study, in my opinion. It is also clear from reviewing the remarks of the researchers in various articles that they already believed that eating red meat is unhealthy.
I will point out that this study, like all the others, failed to distinguish between eating grassfed meat and factory meat.
But there is an earlier study that addressed the affect of eating wild and grassfed meat on chronic disease. Dr. Weston A. Price spent ten years traveling around the world to study the diets of traditional peoples. Most of the peoples he studied ate plenty of wild game, and/or grassfed meat and fat. As long as these people ate their traditional diet, they had none of the chronic diseases common to the modern world. They had no cancer. They had no heart disease. And they had no Type 2 diabetes.
It is reasonable to conclude that if eating red meat caused Type 2 diabetes, the peoples studied by Dr. Price would have a diabetes epidemic, because they ate so much wild and grassfed red meat. But since they had no diabetes at all, it is equally reasonable to conclude that eating wild or grassfed red meat did not increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes. I will also point out that these people did not eat sugar or refined carbohydrates, and their diet was considerably lower in carbohydrates than modern diets. Of course many other factors were involved, but you cannot deny the fact that they ate large amounts of wild and grassfed red meat, and they did not get diabetes.
As a personal observation, I know many people, including myself, who eat red grassfed meat on a regular basis. I eat it almost every day, sometimes several times a day. I love it. It makes me feel good and gives me strength. None of those people, including me, have any symptoms of Type 2 diabetes. Not a scientific study, just real life observation.
Finally, I do not eat factory meat. It tastes like blah, and makes me feel stuffed rather than great. I love grassfed meat!
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