For years, the official policy has been to reduce red meat intake, due to increased health problems resulting from very high consumption of red meat—particularly processed red meat. However, according to a new report in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the red meat guidelines have changed. With research collected by fourteen researchers out of seven countries, it’s a whole new approach to eating that has a lot of people confused. So we’re going to take a closer look at these guidelines to help you understand the latest changes to your red meat eating habits…
The Report’s Findings
According to the study (see link above), the scientists have deemed it unnecessary to cut back on red meat—both regular meat and processed red meats. They state that the information available connecting red meat to cancer is low quality and insufficient to provide a definitive link between red meat intake and health problems like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. The attitude of consumers toward red meat is also positive, and thus people are unlikely to reduce red meat consumption anyway. The result is that the new red meat guidelines are to “continue as things are” without fearing health problems.
The Resulting Uproar
A lot of people are unhappy with these new red meat guidelines. Even experts are arguing that the guidelines are not only inconsistent with the research provided, but actually could end up harming people who follow it. Harvard has dedicated an entire page on their website to breaking down and refuting the new guidelines. Experts are citing multiple studies that indicate (though not definitively prove) that high red meat intake can be associated with a wide range of health problems.
The Dangers of the New Red Meat Guidelines
High red meat consumption has, until this study, been fairly closely linked to a wide range of health problems. Some studies have led researchers to believe that increasing red meat consumption by just 1.5 ounces a day could lead to a 10% higher death risk, while lowering red meat intake could cause as many as 200,000 fewer deaths each year. Reduced red meat intake is said to help lower cholesterol and decrease intake of carcinogens. Processed meat has been regarded as one of the greatest food-related dangers, thanks to the high use of chemicals and artificial ingredients. Diabetes has also been linked to red meat, which means that it is still believed to be a danger to our health if consumed in excess.
The Environmental Factor
All experts can agree that the meat industry has a huge effect on the environment! Studies have linked beef production to a drastic increase in our environmental impact—far more than with any other protein production industry. Cows require more water and land, and the greenhouse emissions resuling from beef farming is far higher than any other industry.
How You Should Treat These New Red Meat Guidelines
Treat them with a healthy degree of suspicion, and keep trying to reduce your red meat intake whenever possible. You definitely don’t need to cut it from your diet—after all, red meat is an excellent source of a lot of critical amino acids and minerals—but you should try to limit your intake to 2 or 3 times per week. Eating other animal-based proteins like eggs, fish, and poultry will help to improve your diet, and plant-based proteins deserve a place on your menu as well. Red meat may not be fully unhealthy (like some people claim), but there are enough associated risks and drawbacks that you should moderate your intake.