Meat. This one is always going to be a tough subject. There are lots of reasons to eat it and lots of reasons not to. However there are lots of common misconceptions about meat, so I would like to explain a few things to you to help you make your own informed decision. Before I begin, I would like you all to understand, I am fully aware that there so many ethical reasons not to eat meat. Here I will just be discussing the nutritional impacts on our health of consuming meats, not ethics.
ANTIBIOTICS & HORMONES:
We have all seen the labels on meats that say ‘antibiotic and hormone free’, but no meat is labelled ‘full of hormones and antibiotics’….I guess no one would buy it if they knew that! When we consume meats from animals that are routinely administered antibiotics, our bodies begin to build a resistance, which ultimately will mean we become resistant to our own antibiotics for when we really are sick. Furthermore the hormones injected into the animals can noticeably disturb our own hormone systems.
B12 & OTHER B VITAMINS:
Red meat is the only natural source of vitamin of B12. Not only that it has high sources of B1 (Thiamin), B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin) and even Vitamin D which your body needs to absorb calcium. For vegetarians and vegans, it is important to supplement with B12 because its is needed to boost energy, prevent anemia and help produce normal red blood cells, as well as maintain overall health in your nervous system. Other vitamins and minerals which are found in meats, can easily be found in a balanced vegetarian diet. Fruits, vegetables and wholegrains have such high quantities of B-Vitamins, that you aren’t likely to become deficient (except in B12). When eating vegetarian/vegan, aslong as you are eating balanced amounts of different varieties, and supplementing B12 you will be able to sustain a healthy diet.
FATS AND FATTY ACIDS:
From a nutritional point of view, there is now a huge concern of the health risks with eating meat from large, mass producing farms. As mentioned above we have the antibiotic and hormone problems. But another issue we face is the fat content, and quality of fat that come from these meats. Animals used to graze on grass, other greens and have a more natural diet, therefore their meat was composed of a great balance between the essential fatty acids, omega 3 and omega 6. These days, mass farmers feed their animals on mostly grains (covered in pesticides…) and keep them from getting much exercise, which has led to a really unhealthy fat content in the meats sold on our shelves. Essential fatty acids are needed for normal growth, keeping us looking youthful with supple skin and to help us absorb the fat soluble vitamins (A,D,E and K). It is crucial we maintain a balance of omega 3 and omega 6 to keep us functioning healthy, as there have been several diseases linked to an imbalance in the omegas.
I stopped eating meat for a couple of months, and then went back to eating meat in much smaller quantaties. One thing I noticed was less bloating and I lost about 5-8lbs!! Now I looked into this a lot more and found that when eating a high in meat diet, your body struggles to digest it fast enough and it can effectively ‘clog’ you up. When I moved onto more veggies and wholegrains, my body had plenty of fibre to help my intestines shift and remove the ‘clogging’. Now that I look back more, when I was eating a lot of meat, I simply wasn’t eating enough fibre to help my digestion move efficiently, hence my bloating and what felt like extra weight. So yes, less meat helps you lose weight, BUT only because you start eating more of the right foods to aid your digestion.
So to weigh all this up:
- Eat a balanced meal, with a slightly smaller proportion of meat. Try for maybe 1/4 meat, 1/4 carbs and 2/4 veggies. (The trick is with veggies, the more colourful your plate the better!)
- If you choose to be vegan or vegetarian, definitely educate yourself on the health risks related to vitamin and mineral deficiencies related to these type of lifestyles. Its always best to see a nutritionist prior to starting out on a diet like this, in case you have any under lying deficiencies beforehand.
- If you are eating meat, try to steer more towards buying organic and hormone/antibiotic free. It is a little pricier, but it is far better for your health and it helps fund local farmers, instead of big chain farming giants. If you follow the meal tip in #1 then you wont need to buy as much meat, keeping costs down. 🙂
I hope this has been helpful, and given you a little motivation to eat a little cleaner ❤
Stay healthy and happy ❤
Lots of love Natalie xoxo