To Meat or Not to Meat?


Diet and exercise are the focus for many Americans during the month of January. They’ve just eaten big meals with relatives, and make promises to themselves that they may or may NOT keep. (A big percentage let their gym memberships lapse.) Rich Roll can tell you all about it, as the oldest winner of the Epic-5 Challenge: five Ironman-distance triathlons on five islands in Hawaii. His transformation is detailed in FINDING ULTRA, from a meat to a plant based diet for the win. Nothing is more controversial than diet and particularly carbs versus meat in both weight loss and health. The science depends on who you talk to. Here are some quotes—you decide for yourself. Or NOT. What prompted this post is a recent contact with Dr. Preston Estep, a Harvard genetics researcher whom I’ve been trying to interview for a year. The revelations in THE MINDSPAN DIET are largely unknown by both the general public, and by many authors of books on diet and health, such as Gary Taubes, author of  GOOD CALORIES, BAD CALORIES, and Nina Teicholz, author of THE BIG FAT SURPRISE. Demographic studies were conducted in many countries, and the longest living brain health areas correlate to those with little iron in the diet. I did an unscientific study of my own, and discovered that pasta and bread and cereal in the USA all have added iron, but they don’t add iron to pasta directly imported from countries like Italy (Alma pasta, for example.) The US has much higher rates of dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s by comparison. Young people need more iron, but Estep is talking about older Americans, who get far more iron than necessary, “and the dosage is toxic.” His focus is brain health, but he also has things to say about heme iron in red meat, and saturated fat. Others here I have also interviewed. See also Dr. Valter Longo, director of the Longevity Institute at USC in Los Angeles, and the Program on Longevity and Cancer at IFOM (Molecular Oncology FIRC Institute) in Milan. His studies focus on the fundamental mechanisms of aging in simple organisms and mice and on how they can be translated to humans. Dr. Longo received the 2010 Nathan Shock Lecture Award from the National Institute on Aging (NIA/NIH) and the 2013 Vincent Cristofalo “Rising Star” Award in Aging Research from the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR). And Kathy Freston, and Dr. Mark Hyman. Are processed vegetable oils and trans-fats loaded into many snacks bad for you? Obviously so. They want shelf life, and lie to you. YOUR shelf life suffers. Sugar and high glycemic index foods are culprits, too. Just ask Michael Blanding, author of THE COKE MACHINE about High Fructose Corn Syrup. What to do? Listen up, and visit the author sites too. —Jonathan Lowe, author of the thriller “The Methuselah Gene,” based on real science, and covering ethical questions related to hogs. 

Dr. Preston Estep: “The claim that saturated fat doesn’t promote disease is not credible. Most saturated fats raise both LDL and HDL, but, as I explain in TMD, high LDL is a causal factor in heart disease (especially in the presence of pro-oxidants like iron), while it has been shown in a few different ways that HDL plays no causal role, and is only a passive biomarker. This is new but increasingly accepted science. That isn’t to say that higher saturated fat doesn’t protect against certain conditions (e.g. stroke), but it does so at the expense of increasing other disease risks and all-cause mortality. Iron oxidizes LDL, so LDL together with high iron is much more problematic than high LDL with low iron, which is why non-meat sources of saturated fat are safer than fatty meat.” Link

From a link provided by Gary Taubes: Take as many people as we can afford, randomize them into two groups — one that eats a lot of red meat and bacon, one that eats a lot of vegetables and whole grains and pulses-and very little red meat and bacon — and see what happens. These experiments have effectively been done. They’re the trials that compare Atkins-like diets to other more conventional weight loss diets — AHA Step 1 diets, Mediterranean diets, Zone diets, Ornish diets, etc. These conventional weight loss diets tend to restrict meat consumption to different extents because they restrict fat and/or saturated fat consumption and meat has a lot of fat and saturated fat in it. Ornish’s diet is the extreme example. And when these experiments have been done, the meat-rich, bacon-rich Atkins diet almost invariably comes out ahead, not just in weight loss but also in heart disease and diabetes risk factors. I discuss this in detail in chapter 18 of Why We Get Fat, “The Nature of a Healthy Diet.” The Stanford A TO Z Study is a good example of these experiments. Over the course of the experiment — two years in this case — the subjects randomized to the Atkins-like meat-and bacon-heavy diet were healthier. 

Dave Simon, author of MEATONOMICS: “There are a couple of problems with the so-called controversy that Taubes and others claim exists. First, their critiques of the underlying science focus on observational studies, which admittedly have flaws. But they ignore hundreds of other studies based on better science, such as those discussed in The China Study that show that even the tiniest amounts of animal products in the diet initiate tumor development, and when animal products are replaced with plant products in the diet, tumor development is turned off. Second, meat proponents typically focus on one constituent of animal foods: saturated fat. But animal foods contain other components known to be dangerous, such as heme iron and cholesterol – and of course steroids and antibiotics in industrially raised foods. So meat proponents engage in same logical fallacy of faulty generalization as do climate deniers who believe they can dismiss warming trends by pointing to a single cold day or one glacier that is growing instead of shrinking. Let’s not forget that Robert Atkins, the founder of the Atkins diet, died from complications associated with meat consumption.”

DNA Crispr related to health and diet.

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