Now they’re telling us – in America at least- to put steak back on the menu. Yep, the effects of meat on the body aren’t nearly as negative as we have been led to believe, and removing it from our diets simply isn’t worth it.
Last week the New York Times published a whole lot of data – three years of research, by 14 researchers in 7 countries involving an intentional collaboration of researchers.
It concluded that the abundance of articles and studies declaring red meat to be bad for us are not backed up by enough credible or detailed data.
Furthermore, they said cutting out beef and/or pork from our diet has only minimal benefits, and not enough to warrant changing our meat-eating habits. They concluded the risks associated with eating red meat and processed meats is acceptable for individuals.
Bradley Johnston is the leader of the group publishing the new research, in the Annals of Internal Medicine. He is an epidemiologist from Canada and says “The certainty of evidence for these risk reductions was low to very low.”
But there is a bigger issue here than whether or not to throw a steak on the BBQ this summer, and it’s the issue of credibility of studies, and the way studies are so easily consumed and reported by journalists, main stream media and eventually mainstream society.
We are being bamboozled with misinformation, screaming headlines and controversial dietary advice. And on the whole it is from qualified people who should know better.
Alongside this is the multitude of non-professional bloggers, Instagrammers and celebrity chefs in Australia (at least) who voice their opinions on health as fact when they are unqualified to do so.
I am often asked for my opinion on dietary studies, evidence, advice and information. People don’t know how to make the right choices and who to trust.
Is it any wonder we are all confused over what truly is and isn’t ok for us to eat? Every few years there seems to be a major, global shift in dietary advice usually involving, fat, sugar, carbohydrates and meat.
One question we must ask is should nutritional studies and the journalists who write them be held accountable to the same strict standards as studies and articles about experimental drugs?
The second question that also must be thought through – and one researchers globally are now questioning – is if it is actually possible to accurately ascertain the real and true effects on the body of just one component of our diet and health regime.
Asking a group of people – large enough to provide data – to stick to a strict diet long enough to reveal the effects of food choices on diseases is virtually impossible.
The global study above was met with outrage by some seriously credible health researchers including the Harvard TH Chan School Of Public health, the American cancer society, and The American Heart Association.
Dr Hu from Harvard called it “irresponsible and unethical”, adding that studies of red meat as a health hazard have been consistent enough to give them crediblity.
One organisation advocating a plant based diet, The Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine has even filed a petition against the journal with the federal trade commission calling the research “fatally flawed”.
Nutrition researchers are also furious.as they have long claimed that red meat and processed meat contribute to the risk of both cancer and heart disease.
And the issue of the environmental degradation caused by worldwide meat production is yet another dimension in this now complex debate.
Beef on average has about five times the impact on climate change of chicken and pork.
This is due to the huge swathes of land needed to grow and feed cattle, and cows produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
I am a red meat eater. Having read huge amounts of evidence and studies, and having listened to my body, I have concluded it works for my body. And frankly I love a steak, at least twice a week.
My conclusion? Manage your own health and find the right medial professionals to help you with that ongoing job and do what works for you.
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