Healthy meat – animal protein - Total Health blog

Healthy meat – animal protein

Meat consumption is something that is a hot topic these days and there are many camps commenting on this. On one end of the spectrum there are those who promote eating only meat or lots of it, while on the other end are those that promote eating no meat or animal products at all.

Nutrition and diet are each very personal subjects and everybody has to find their own way of approaching them without taking on any of the many and various beliefs or ‘So and So says to eat like this’.

Of course, there are health practitioners across a broad spectrum that can support with a range of ideas or directions but eventually it comes down to discerning what your body needs as ‘Our Body is the Marker of All Truth’ and will always show you if what and how you are eating is supportive for you. There are always signs, whether subtle or obvious, that follow when we eat food that does not support us. Sometimes they may not be as obvious as an instant rash, stomach cramps or diarrhoea, or even in the case of extreme food allergies when there may be an anaphylactic reaction.

Generally a reaction could be that we feel a bit lethargic, sleepy, drowsy or bloated after a meal. We may need an afternoon nap after lunch, notice we feel thirstier; or maybe we feel dull or our gym work out after work is not as flowing and energetic as normal. So, getting to know our body and looking at every little sign will support us to recognise any ‘hidden or delayed’ responses we might not be aware of. As well, we are constantly evolving and what we were able to eat last year, last month or sometimes last week might not support us where we are now. When it comes to diet, it is an ongoing process of checking in with your body to feel what is needed.

Before we look at the facts, its important when choosing any meat to know the ins and outs that allows you to be able to choose healthier and cleaner options when it comes to any meat.

Let’s look at the facts:

There are four categories we can put meat into = red, white, processed meat and fish.

Red meat would include lamb, beef, pork, and wild animals like kangaroo, rabbit, deer, emu, crocodile and others. Some would be classified organic, grass fed or barn raised.

Of the domesticated meats, lamb would be the easiest to digest (see * later) and in Australia, the lamb is generally grass fed and not raised in barns and fed with concentrated/bulk up food that is unnatural for them to grow up on. Choosing organic lamb would be more supportive as there are fewer chemicals involved in raising the animals.

Next would be beef and yes, grassfed organic beef would be preferable.

Less supportive when it comes to meat from a health perspective would be pork due to its high acid content (See * later) and possibility of containing worms and parasites. Cooking meat, in particular pork, will kill parasites, but not the eggs of the parasites that can later hatch in your body. Research shows a high concentration of parasitic infections amongst people who eat pork.

Rabbit in Australia is mostly cage farmed but wild rabbit is also available. It is a so-called running meat (if not farmed), meaning the fat content is lower. Wild rabbit is also known to have parasites. When cooking rabbit meat properly it tastes a bit like chicken, maybe a slightly stronger, meatier and earthier flavour. So, if choosing rabbit meat the organic version would be the best option.

Kangaroo is again a lean meat as it is classified running meat. It contains less than 2% fat, making it a healthier red meat option. Kangaroo meat is high in protein, essential B vitamins, minerals such as zinc, iron and omega 3 fats and omega 6 fatty acids. Compared to beef, kangaroo contains double the amount of iron and triple that of chicken and pork. As it is very lean it requires less cooking than other fattier meats.

So when choosing to eat red meat you can now determine which is a healthier version of red meat and discern how much and how often to eat it is right for you.

White meat covers chicken, turkey and duck, either organic or non-organic.

When it comes to white meat these days, we would always recommend organic, preferably slaughtered on the organic farm and purchased from an organic butcher, the reason being that commercially raised chicken are fed antibiotics, so they grow faster. Besides the fact that these birds are often raised in dark barns without natural light, the feed allows them to grow so fast that their legs are often not able to hold their weight. Should they fall over they can be trampled to death as generally this is indoor free range so no cages. The death rate of birds in these mass-produced facilities is quite high. But back to the antibiotics in the fed – this can also cause bugs to grow faster and we have seen the rise in so called antibiotic superbugs which are strains of bacteria, viruses and fungi that are resistant to most of the antibiotics and other medication used to treat infections. Important to know is that these bugs can affect humans and research has linked them to urinary tract infections, skin infections, pneumonia and more. Common superbugs are salmonella and MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus) which is now seen commonly outside of hospitals.

A similar example is the Australian duck industry which produces over 8 million ducks yearly and that demand is only possible to fulfil in the same way as the chicken industry in factory farms.

Fish and seafood – check whether farmed or wild caught.

Wild-caught fish from lakes and oceans that are as unpolluted as possible, and fish that are not high up in the food chain like shark and others, would be preferred when it comes to fish and seafood.

The reason is that fish farming uses lots of chemicals including antibiotics and others to keep the fish growing. Again they are not growing in a natural environment like swimming around in the wild. Fish farms are generally located in coastal areas, in lakes or artificial pools and to maintain this un-natural way for fish to survive requires un-natural support from food and pharmaceuticals. For example, fish are fed with soy and wheat as by-products and clearly this is food that does not grow in the ocean and naturally would not be on their plate. Salmon is a good example as it is estimated that more than 70% of salmon worldwide, available today is farmed. Salmon gets its red/pink colour from eating krill when living in deep cold water and the question would be how is it that farmed salmon is pink when produced in coastal areas and with the absence of cold water and krill? With seafood we also need to consider that these are bottom feeders and therefore can accumulate toxins that can impact on our health, for example, a large proportion of the population has seafood allergies. When it comes to fish and seafood, it is also a concern that increasingly oceans are polluted with plastic and as yet we do not know whether this could impact human health in the future.

Seafood - Healthy meat – animal protein - Total Health blog

Meat products include sausages, ham, bacon, salami, hot dogs, deli meats, canned meat, hamburgers and more. These products are modified to enhance flavour or shelf life. This is done by salting, curing, fermenting, smoking and adding chemical preservatives. Clearly the process described above shows that this would not be the healthiest option when choosing to consume meat. The process that pork belly goes through for example to produce bacon is available to view on the internet without any hiding of the fact that it is pumped with lots of salt and chemicals.

It is said that non-organic meat can contain toxins, antibiotics and hormones. All meat (including organic) contains uric acid and arachidonic acid. Our body needs arachidonic acid (0.1 mg daily) to regulate stomach acid production. Higher levels of arachidonic acid in the body mean the stomach acid is continually produced all day. The stomach acid then attacks and kills its good bacteria. The absence of good bacteria means the stomach lining (mucosa system) can get thinner and the acid starts to interfere with the stomach lining which can cause problems like ulcers, tumours and also leaky gut. All sorts of meat, dairy and eggs contain arachidonic acid in high amounts e.g. 100 grams of pork contains 1700 mg of arachidonic acid – this is 17,000 times more than we need and can handle! Unlike dogs and cats, humans don’t have the enzyme Uricase which makes it possible to digest meat (and breakdown uric acid). That is the reason why we are not naturally meat eaters! A healthy person can handle meat a maximum of twice a week (preferably lamb, strictly organic chicken and turkey, preferably from an organic butcher). It is not recommended during a detox and cleansing, when the digestive system is not working as it should or if you are recovering from any chronic illness, especially autoimmune disease, arthritis, heart disease or cancer. Research has pointed out that animal meat and products have hardened the endothelial cells (lining of our blood vessels) and decreased the nitric oxide levels (a major factor for maintaining health and well-being).

So, eating or not eating meat is not as simple as black and white. Looking at all the research available like Caldwell Esselstyn (Preventing & Reversing Heart Disease), Colin Campbell (China Study) and many others, we can see that they always look at the complete elimination of animal protein from the diet as they have researched on already chronically ill and sick patients. And surely over the last 30 years the animal protein consumption has increased out of sight compared to the quantity older generations consumed. So too has the quality and method of processing meat changed but not necessarily improved. If we are eating too much of something that is highly processed, we can suffer health consequences.

Looking at the Blue Zones around the world, what stands out is that meat is still part of their diet but not eaten often, as little as 5-10%. And these are the populations that hardly have any chronic disease such as heart disease, autoimmune disease and cancer and on top they are the oldest living communities when it comes to age. In Loma Linda, California (one of the Blue Zones) the local gym is probably the place where you can witness one of the highest numbers of 80-, 90- and 100-year-olds exercising and doing their daily weight training.

Discerning what, when and how our body is with any food is something that is essential when it comes to all food you put into your mouth.