Most of us would agree that what first comes to mind is that meat is an all-natural source of high quality protein that has not been altered in any way, and it should be the case. The problem is, this is not always true.
Hormones and antibiotics
Beef, chicken, pork, turkey and other meat sources that typically grace our tables, usually come from animals treated with hormones and other unappetizing and unhealthy substances.
There are pesticides in the soil, hormones in milk, and antibiotics in the meat we eat. Hormones and antibiotics are regularly used to help animals grow and reduce the threat of disease. Even though there are guidelines for their use, these are not always properly regulated.
How these hormones affect us
Cattle are usually treated with growth hormone to increase production of milk. Hormones are banned for poultry in countries like the U.S., but this has not necessarily meant producers have stopped using them. Studies show that the use of hormones endangers the health of animals and man, when used repeatedly and in large doses. Still, the animal industry does not always declare what it uses. The problem isn´t necessarily the ingestion of growth hormones, which is destroyed along the way, but that it may increase another hormone called insulin-like growth factor, this mimics the effect of the human growth hormone in harmful ways. High levels of this hormone have been associated with breast and prostate cancer, among others. Also, animals fed with these sources, which are unnatural to their digestive systems, produce toxic waste accumulated in their fat tissues. Once these tissues are part of our diet, the toxins within have a hormonal effect in our own systems as well.
How antibiotics affect us
Antibiotics are used to treat infections, encourage weight gain and to counter the effects of other treatments used. Producers don’t publicize the use of antibiotics so accurate, information on this practice is hard to come by. One of the biggest controversies, of using antibiotics designed to treat human illnesses in animals, is the possibility of making consumers resistant to those antibiotics.
The way you cook your meat matters. It’s believed that cooking at higher temperatures increases the chances of having cancer, because of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs) formed during high-heat cooking methods like grilling and deep-frying.
Visit ncbi.nlm.nih.gov to learn more about the risk of consuming meat containing antibiotics.
Can we do something to be less exposed to chemicals found in meat? Yes, we can.
Avoid hormone-laden poultry, fish, pork, and products made from conventionally raised dairy. Choose lean cut meat that is certified hormone free, preferably “grass fed”, “free range” and game; limit red meat intake to once a week, cut down red meats cooked under high temperatures and marinate them to decrease cancer-causing-compounds. Avoid processed meats such as lunchmeats, hot dogs, pre-packaged smoked meats and chicken nuggets (what are we feeding our children?!). Eat lots of organic fruits and vegetables to block the toxic effects from the Standard American Diet (SAD). In addition, include more vegetable protein sources like legumes, nuts and seeds, which in addition to fiber and phytonutrients, have the added value of containing less saturated fats and cholesterol.
Meat is a very healthy food, rich in iron, high quality protein, vitamins B, vitamin D and minerals, like zinc. High quality meat even has Omega-3! As with most foods, how you choose them, how you prepare them, the frequency and the amount you eat make a big difference to a long healthy life.
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Eating Less, Better Meat: Yes We Can. ( July 18, 2011).Accessed March 10,2015, from Environmental Working Group: http://www.ewg.org/agmag/2011/07/eating-less-better-meat-yes-we-can
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Haspel, T. ( April 7, 2014). Is organic better for your health? A look at milk, meat, eggs, produce and fish. Accessed March 10, 2015, from The Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/is-organic-better-for-your-health-a-look-at-milk-meat-eggs-produce-and-fish/2014/04/07/036c654e-a313-11e3-8466-d34c451760b9_story.html
Modern meat. (s.f.). Accessed March 10, 2015, from Frontline: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/meat/safe/overview.html
Storrs, C. (January 31, 2011). Hormones In Food: Should You Worry? Accessed March 10, 2015, from The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/31/hormones-in-food-should-y_n_815385.html
Velle, W. (s.f.). The use of hormones in animal production.Accessed March 10, 2015, from FAO: http://www.fao.org/docrep/004/x6533e/x6533e01.htm