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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Red Blooded, All-American Meat

Food is always a tricky subject. I'm a paleo/primal kind of guy.  I want meat in my diet.  I'm willing to skip out on bread and pasta if it means I get bacon.  A guy has to have his priorities, right?  Unfortunately, some people say it's going to kill me.

Recently, a new study came out that has folks just a clamoring that my good old red meat is going to be the death of me.  For folks who follow a paleo or primal lifestyle, this is normal.  Anyone who knows a paleo/primal type and sees one of these studies is bound to send an email warning you of how your lifestyle is going to kill you.

To bad, they're wrong.

I could spend tons of time trying to telling you how wrong this perception is, but how about I just share what Mark Sisson wrote over at Mark's Daily Apple:
The study used data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study, which collected complete information on diet, smoking status, physical activity, and BMI from almost a half million men and women without stroke, cancer, or heart disease. They grabbed a decade’s worth of data along with “clinical endpoints” (death from various causes), and have since been running the numbers to see the effect of various factors – usually a particular category of food or nutrient – on mortality. Today’s study was about the effect of red meat and processed meat on all-cause mortality.


Intake of unprocessed red meat was barely associated with increased all-cause mortality until adjusting for other confounding factors, after which point the association vanished completely. These confounding factors included overall energy intake, alcohol intake, smoking, body weight, activity levels, and produce intake.

There’s a definite healthy user bias when it comes to processed meat. People who ate the most processed meat also ate the least amount of fruits and vegetables. They also smoked and (the men, at least) drank a lot and tended to avoid the gym. Red meat eaters, too. As I said, they tried to account for these confounding variables, but I’m skeptical they can do so completely.

So there you have it.  The problem isn't red meat.  It never has been.  It's been a combination of factors that also includes a horrid lack of fresh fruits and vegetables.  A nice, juicy steak isn't going to kill me.  Too many hotdogs?  Oh, now that's dog with a different bark.

Mark does point out that the studies are now starting to differentiate between red meat and processed meat, which is showing more and more that red meat isn't the problem.  In fact, some doctors have been telling patients to eat as much of a certain type of red meat - venison - that they can get their hands on.

It's enough to make me glad there's some ground deer in the freezer.  Chilli maybe?

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