By Robb Wolf at RobbWolf.com
Red Meat Scare
There I was, minding my own business. Just getting my talk ready for PaleoFx, washing clothes and chasing Keystone around the house on my mobility breaks. Then…the Meatpocalypse began. It started benignly enough. A few folks posted links to Facebook and twitter about a new study claiming “RED meat will kill you. DEAD.”
“Ah, this will blow over.” I thought.
But the terror grew. Bacon panics broke out in the civilized nations that consume this Nectar of the Swine. People lost the ability to think for themselves! Would the sun come up tomorrow? Bet your bottom dollar!…oh, wait. I was drifting into a coma, tired of the fight…tired of doing this…ALL…OVER…AGAIN. We’ve been down this road before, but a lie said frequently enough becomes truth, I so guess we need to dispel this myth. And I’m sure this will not be the last time.
Somewhere along the line “red meat” became the Red Scare of the nutritional world. It has saturated fat (gasp!) and comes from an animal! Case closed. Except that we can’t seem to hang much of anything on the saturated fat villain and if you put meat in a nutrition analyzer, you find it’s one of the most nutritious foods you can eat. The fact you can live on meat exclusively and indefinitely seems to get lost in the shuffle. And please, please do not bring up cultures that eat a lot of meat yet are quite healthy. That would require talking about “mechanisms” and doing legit metabolic ward studies. Crazy talk! I mean, things Like the Nurses Health Study already “showed” that the more meat and fat women ate the healthier they were, right? Folks really want to believe in this “meat=bad” idea, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Don’t fall for it.
Several people have already provided succinct, accurate criticism of this piece, so I do not want to belabor that part. I have bigger chicharrones to fry. The Blog, Constantly Varried had the aptly titled Red Meat: Here we go again while CavemanDoctor had a more sciency title.
Please check those out but the take-aways are:
1 – Nutrition data was collected via Food Frequency Questionnaires. Yes, folks just had to remember what they thought they ate.
2 – Confounders galore. The higher meat consumption group tended to be overweight, smoked and was less active. Apparently they did not get a Paleo cohort in that mix?
3 – Correlation does not equal causation. Now…I hesitate to even include this and here is why: Some epidemiology CAN be done in such a way that we can find a correlation that is worth pursuing some kind of mechanistic validation….