If so, read the interesting essay by Dr. Georgia Ede on the health of traditional heavy meat-eating cultures such as the Masai and Inuits.
Of the Canadian Eskimos of a century ago, Dr. Ede writes:
Their diets were therefore extremely low in fiber most of the time, and very high in animal protein and animal fat. These traditional ways of eating would terrify the USDA, the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, not to mention the Harvard School of Public Health, which remains a staunchly anti-meat, anti-saturated fat, anti-cholesterol institution. How in the world did these uninformed fringe types manage to get all their vitamins and minerals without the heaping helpings of colorful fruits, vegetables, and whole grains without which we are told we shall surely perish?
Weren’t they cancer-riddled, heart-clenching, constipated, fat slobs who died young from scary deficiency diseases like rickets and scurvy?
This post was not designed to provide an airtight argument for meat and health, but I do hope that it has at least prompted those of you who remain skeptical about meat to rethink what you’ve been led to believe. If you’ve got a hankerin’ for more information about meat and health, take a look at my meat page.
Check it out.
Men eating low-carb diets featuring protein and fats from sources other than red and processed meats may reduce risk of developing type 2 diabetes later, compared to other types of low-carb diets. The same Boston-based researchers previously looked for a similar association in women and found none.
The article in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition seems to me unusually complicated, like the first sentence of this post. It was frustrating to read, searching for but not finding much useful for clinical practice. How low-carb were these diets? Thirty-seven to 43% of energy from carbs in the most dedicated dieters, compared to 50-60% in the standard American diet.
After wading through most of this article, I came away with the impression the authors were just data-mining a huge database, to add one more item to their CVs (curriculum vitae). This article is a confusing mess, or maybe I’m just stupid. I regret wasting an hour on it.
Steve Parker, M.D.
Reference: De Konig, Lawrence, et al. Low-carbohydrate diet scores and risk of type 2 diabetes in men. Amercan Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2011. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.110.004333
Researchers at Harvard and the University of Athens (Greece) report that the following specific components of the Mediterranean diet are associated with lower rates of death:
- moderate ethanol (alcohol) consumption
- low meat and meat product intake
- high vegetable consumption
- high fruit and nut consumption
- high ratio of monounsaturated fat to saturated fat
- high legume intake
Minimal, if any, contribution to mortality was noted with high cereal, low dairy, or high fish and seafood consumption.
The researchers examined diet and mortality data from over 23,000 adult participants in the Greek portion of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and nutrition. You’ll be hearing more about the EPIC study for many years. Over an average follow-up of 8.5 years, 1,075 of participants died. 652 of these deaths were of participants in the lower half of Mediterranean diet adherence; 423 were in the upper half.
Alcohol intake in Greece is usually in the form of wine at mealtimes.
The beneficial “high ratio of monounsaturated fat to saturated fat” stems from high consumption of olive oil and low intake of meat.
It’s not clear if these findings apply to other nationalities or ethnic groups. Other research papers have documented the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet in at least eight other countries over three continents.
The researchers don’t reveal in this report the specific causes of death. I expect those data, along with numbers on diabetes, stroke, and dementia, to be published in future articles, if not published already. Prior Mediterranean diet studies indicate lower death rates from cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Steve Parker, M.D.
Reference: Trichopoulou, Antonia, et al. Anatomy of health effects of the Mediterranean diet: Greek EPIC prospective cohort study. British Medical Journal, 338 (2009): b2337. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.b2337.