According to a new review of the evidence, a team of Spanish and Polish researchers have found that there is no health benefit to reducing the consumption of red meat in one’s diet.
Dietary guidelines across the globe, such as the EAT Lancet Global Initiative, and others, suggest limiting the portions of red meat per week for both health and environmental concerns. There is no substantial case whatsoever for reducing beef consumption in regards to environmental impact in the United States, but for many years, it has been suggested that red meat can increase your risk for heart disease due to the presence of saturated fats, and cancer.
A primary function for this claim is that red meat, being rich in essential amino acids, increases the activity of IGF-1 (insulin-growth factor) a very powerful growth signal that allows cells to survive and repair themselves when they might otherwise die.
Damaged cells that may become cancerous or that are already cancerous, show increased proliferation and longevity when receiving IGF-1.
However lifestyle interventions like time-restricted feeding, fasting, exercise, and hot and cold therapy all can work to reduce the lifespan of damaged cells and in theory mitigate the risk of mutation even in an IGF-1 rich environment.
According to one estimate, only 5% of nutritional studies are conducted with the gold standard – randomized placebo-controlled trials. These offer a high grade of accuracy because all elements of diet are controlled for, and neither the participants nor scientists know which group is the case group and which is the control group.
Instead, many nutritional studies come from what are known as observational studies, and they consist of observing the dietary patterns of a group of people and then observing the effects. These are notoriously open to bias as well as often lacking strong parameters, such as isolating those who eat meat and smoke cigarettes from those who eat meat and don’t exercise but don’t smoke, etc.
The researchers separately reviewed the 12 randomised trials that have been done on red meat and processed meat and health risks, and found there was little or no health benefit conferred to people who cut down on eating these foods.
While the members of the team, as well as other experts quoted in the original news bulletin, remind those reading that this should not be taken as a green light to eat as much meat as you want, it should help us all understand how difficult it is to conduct proper nutritional research.
It also demonstrates that unless a randomized controlled trial is employed in any paper, we can’t be at all sure the findings are replicable, or accurate.
Continue reading on this topic — What Sacrifices Would Need To Be Made To Cut U.S Livestock Emissions?