In the 1980s Dr Michael Pariza, of the University of Wisconsin, was looking to prove or disprove the theory that charcoal-grilled meat could cause cancer in humans. What he actually discovered was that there was a substance in red meat that was slowing the growth of tumours that he was trying to raise, which was the exact opposite of what he had set out to find. One year later he discovered the compound Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA).
CLA is probably one of the best foods you can consume to slow down and fight cancer, help against diabetes, and benefit the circulatory system. Studies conducted in both Finland and France found that CLA protects women from breast cancer. In fact one French study discovered that women with the most CLA had a staggering 74 percent lower risk of breast cancer than the women with the least CLA.
The best source of CLA is obtained from grass-fed (100 percent pasture raised) beef, lamb and bison, and butter and cheese from grass-fed animals. The diagram above illustrates the difference in quality of product between grain-fed and grass-fed animals.
All in the Feed
The confusion regarding the health accusations against red meat is really the confusion between grass-fed and grain-fed. The myth that red meat is ‘bad’ for us is a study of grain-fed animals — a reflection of the food industry’s ‘commodity product’.
Why feed animals grain when it’s not their natural food choice?
Simply because grass-fed (naturally fed) livestock, chickens and fish take at least twice as long to reach their finish weight, all limiting profit margins.
The History of Grain-Feeding
After World War Two there was a surplus of nitrogen in the U.S. from making weapons and bombs. The War Department contacted the Agriculture Department for a solution and they decided that the excess nitrogen could be put out on the cropland. From 1946 to 1950 the corn yield (corn is classified as a grain) in the US literally doubled, and by 1951 to 1952 farmers were complaining about low prices and the fact they had too much corn.
The department then had to decide what to do with all the excess grain. They concluded that a cow could consume about 10kg of corn per day (far more than chickens and pigs). Thus, the birth of corn or grain-fed livestock and a number of corn or grain-based products and substances (like high-fructose corn syrup) in our diets.
So, the fact that the department needed to do something with all that corn meant that animals (and humans) were fed with it. It was the perfect solution.
However, this ‘fast-tracked’ profit comes at a cost. Grain-fed animals are more susceptible to illness due to their diet and living conditions. Hence, they receive large doses of antibiotics and sometimes hormones to fight disease, which further accelerates their growth rate.
Grazing animals operate a stomach at a PH of 7 (neutral), whereas an animal with an increased starch or heavy grain diet will have a stomach PH of 4 to 4.5 (very acidic). This acidic environment of the grain-fed animals’ digestive tract leads to an increased population of E. coli and also makes them more acid resistant.
When we consume grain-fed meat, our digestive system is not able to cleanse out these acid-resistant bacteria and hence becomes ill. Grass-fed beef, on the other hand, does not cause alteration of the E. coli bacteria and is therefore healthy.
Along with this grass-fed beef has higher Omega 3 fatty acids and higher vitamin E content. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects your body’s cells from free radicals and thus delays ageing. It also reduces the incidence of various chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and cataracts.
Where does this leave those living in Asia?
Grass-fed livestock is hard to find in Asia. I recommend developing a relationship with the people who supply your food. Learn how your food is grown and treated so you can make an informed decision on whether you want to include the produce in your nutritional plan. Sometimes you have to choose the best of bad options and balance your diet with nutrients that promote detoxification of harmful substances, or simply go without and choose alternative products.
Phil Kelly is founder and master trainer at Body Expert Systems. For more information contact him on 0934 782763 or go to bodyexpertsystems.com