For the carnivores among us, giving up meat forever might sound crazy, but the reality is a lot of us eat too much meat than is recommended. So, whether you decide to go meat free forever or not, it’s important to be aware of how much you are consuming.
We need protein for the proper functioning of every single cell in our bodies. Amino acids are the building blocks for all of our body’s enzymes, immune system, cell structure, and much more. However, the problem starts when we eat too much protein, specifically animal protein, on a daily basis. Too much of a good thing can be harmful, and this is a concept that should be applied to your diet as a whole. Excess protein consumption puts strain on your kidneys to filter large amounts of amino acids out of your body. In an attempt to balance protein levels in your body, your excretion of calcium also increases. The more excess protein you take into your body, the more calcium you start excreting from your body. This puts your body at risk of electrolyte imbalances and bone deficiencies.
We recently discussed the WHO’s findings that processed meat, such as sausages, luncheon, or corned beef is carcinogenic, but red meat also has a role to play in cancer progression.
Heterocyclic amines, HCA, are carcinogenic compounds formed when meat is cooked. The longer and hotter temperatures the meat is cooked at, the more HCA compounds are formed.
Foods high in saturated fats are known to promote oestrogen production, which encourages the growth of breast tumours especially. High intake of animal fat has been associated with increased breast cancer risk in women in a number of studies.
Similarly, red meat consumption has been associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. In order to absorb animal fat, the liver needs to form bile. Excess bile acids in the intestine can promote the formation of cancer-promoting substances.
The more meat you consume, the less chance there is for you to consume adequate amounts of wholefoods, such as fruit and vegetables. Plant foods and wholefoods are effective at removing carcinogens from the body, and are rich in antioxidants and cancer-fighting phytochemicals.
Heart disease is another of many reasons why you should put the steak knife down. Carnitine is an amino acid derivative found in red meat, and gut bacteria break it down to compounds that all promote the development and hardening of arteries.
Raised blood cholesterol is also one of the main risk factors for heart disease. The saturated fat in red meat is known to raise total and LDL, bad, cholesterol. A specific type of saturated fatty acid, stearic acid, raises cholesterol more than any other saturated fatty acid.
Ultimately, deciding whether or not to eat meat is a very personal choice. Research offers very powerful reasons to reduce your meat consumption. Read our plant based protein guide and explore non-meat sources of protein.