By Kelley Herring
A juicy steak slathered in butter… mouthwatering lamb chops… delectable prime rib… sizzling bacon…
If you still think of these foods as “guilty pleasures” or unhealthy choices, it’s time to get with the times… and the latest research!
Of course, millions of people have been swayed by decades of misguided “fat phobia” and sold the lie that red meat consumption is linked to health problems like heart disease, stroke, and cancer. But if you’re a critical thinker, you know these studies have clear biases and serious limitations.
The most notable limitation is that almost all “red-meat-will-kill-you-bad” studies are observational or population studies.
These studies may indicate correlation. But they do not prove causation.
And there is a big difference…
Here’s an obvious example of flawed thinking on display in many of these studies. Every year, during the months of June, July, and August, drownings are MUCH higher than in December, January, and February. It is also true that the consumption of ice cream is MUCH higher in June, July, and August than during the winter months.
So, it is absolutely true that drownings and ice cream consumption are closely correlated.
But do you believe ice cream is the CAUSE of those drownings? Of course, not!
And yet this obvious logical fallacy is often overlooked when it comes to observational health studies.
These studies also often fail to identify and account for confounding variables.
For example, many population studies purport to show a strong correlation between red meat and disease risk. But might there be other variables in the population – besides red meat – that could increase disease risk?
Did some of the meat eaters also smoke? Did they eat their meat with a side of omega-6-laden French fries and wash it all down with a “Supersize” soda? Unless the population consumed only meat, these other dietary variables could not be teased out with any degree of accuracy.
These studies are also based on self-reported consumption. And the fact is that most people – myself included – can barely recall what they ate for breakfast last week… not to mention a pattern of consumption over years.
Finally, the purported increased risk in these studies is often less than 10 percent. This minor level of purported increased risk can be explained by factors such as genetic variance, data-gathering issues, and mathematical errors.
The Death of Junk Science & Faulty Correlations?
To clear the confusion, researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics & Evaluation (IHME) set out to establish a burden-of-proof risk function – an inventive new method designed to improve the accuracy of statistical reporting.
Hundreds of studies are published each year, which attempt to discover a link between eating specific foods (like tomatoes) and the occurrence of a health outcome (like cancer).
Unfortunately, these types of studies typically create more confusion for the public, not less… given inconsistencies in populations, different data collection methods, and other statistical variations.
Using the IHME’s new burden-of-proof risk function, data for a certain health risk can be computed using a single number that translates to a one-through-five-star rating system:
- One-star rating: No association between the behavior/condition and the health outcome
- Two-star rating: The behavior/condition is associated with a 0-15% change in the risk likelihood of a health outcome
- Three-star rating: The behavior/condition is associated with a 15-50% change in the likelihood of a health outcome
- Four-star rating: The behavior/condition is associated with a 50-85% change in the likelihood of a health outcome
- Five-star rating: The behavior/condition is associated with an 85% or greater change in the likelihood of a health outcome
So, you might wonder what the researchers discovered about the health risks of eating red meat using their new system?
“We found weak evidence of association between unprocessed red meat consumption and colorectal cancer, breast cancer, type 2 diabetes and ischemic heart disease. We found no evidence of an association between unprocessed red meat and stroke.”[i]
These results are no surprise when you consider red meat one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet and the primary source of disease-fighting nutrients, including carnitine, creatine, vitamin B12, and heme iron.
Given this nutrient density, it’s no wonder a study of more than 218,000 people from over 50 countries found that consuming unprocessed meat regularly reduces the risk of early death… and increases longevity.[ii]
Choose Ancestral Wisdom & Nutrient-Dense Foods for Optimal Health
When it comes to “the perfect human diet,” we must look no further than the wisdom of our ancestors.
Choose an ancestral diet rich in nutrient-dense foods, including grass-fed beef, bison, and lamb, wild seafood, pastured pork and poultry, native fats (like tallow), as well as raw, organic dairy (if tolerated).
From there, add organic veggies and fruits that work with your body, considering your health concerns, such as blood sugar balance, digestive issues, food sensitivities, and intolerances.
Love comfort foods, but not the carbs? Check out Kelley’s FREE new book – Carb Lover’s Keto – with 100 recipes for all of your favorite comfort foods. From Chicken Parmigiana and Coconut Shrimp to Buffalo Wings and Pizza. Discover how you can indulge – 100% guilt free!
[i] Lescinsky H, Afshin A, Ashbaugh C, Bisignano C, Brauer M, Ferrara G, Hay SI, He J, Iannucci V, Marczak LB, McLaughlin SA, Mullany EC, Parent MC, Serfes AL, Sorensen RJD, Aravkin AY, Zheng P, Murray CJL. Health effects associated with consumption of unprocessed red meat: a Burden of Proof study. Nat Med. 2022 Oct;28(10):2075-2082. doi: 10.1038/s41591-022-01968-z. Epub 2022 Oct 10. PMID: 36216940; PMCID: PMC9556326.
[ii] You W, Henneberg R, Saniotis A, Ge Y, Henneberg M. Total Meat Intake is Associated with Life Expectancy: A Cross-Sectional Data Analysis of 175 Contemporary Populations. Int J Gen Med. 2022 Feb 22;15:1833-1851. doi: 10.2147/IJGM.S333004. PMID: 35228814; PMCID: PMC8881926.