Science

4 Myths About Eating Animal-Based Diet

8 months ago
4 Myths About Eating Animal-Based Diet

An ideal diet helps you to improve your health and stay healthy for a long time. In recent times several studies have been conducted to explore the effects of meat on the human body. The carnivore diet has several added benefits and is also known to be richer in proteins, vitamins, and minerals. 

Few studies suggest that plant-based foods such as rice, white bread, fries, refined cereals, and cookies are rich in sugar and starch. According to a survey, plant-based foods constitute 42% of calories in the US, whereas meat and processed meat constitute 10% of calories.

With the growing demand for meat food, there are several concerns and myths about the meat diet. Vast conflicting information about the meat diet makes it difficult to judge whether it is beneficial for health or not.

If you are thinking of eliminating the plant diet and loading up with a carnivore diet then you may have to go against some traditional beliefs of a meat diet. 

This article helps you find the answers to some common myths. Let us discuss some myths and facts about the carnivore diet and what research studies say about it.

1. We Need Plants for Complete Nutrition 

Plant foods are rich in proteins, vitamins, and minerals. They are absolutely a good source of nutrients and have many health benefits. But plants do not provide complete nutrition. Plants are a rich source of few nutrients but they also lack some essential nutrients. 

There are some nutrients that are essential but are not provided by plants. These nutrients include;

  • Vitamin D, generally found as Choleciferol(vitamin D3) in animal-sourced foods, such as fatty fish. It helps to raise the levels of vitamin D more than the plant form of Vitamin D(D2).
  • Heme iron is found only in meat, especially in red meat. It is a better source of iron compared to non-heme iron found in plant sources. Heme iron can be better absorbed by the human body. 
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an essential omega-3 fatty acid generally found in fish oil and fatty fish. It is essential for brain development and functioning.

Meat is a complete nutrient food, it contains all the 9 essential amino acids. Meat is an excellent source of minerals, iron, vitamins A, and B12. It is also an excellent source of choline, a nutrient that improves brain, muscle, and liver health. 

2. We Need Fiber For a Healthy Gut

Carnivore diet does not have fiber since it is totally free from plant food. So, do you need fiber in your diet? or should you take any supplements? No, you don’t need to add any fiber to your diet. Surprisingly recent studies say fiber is not an essential nutrient. 

As you would expect, this may result in major changes in bowel movements in many individuals. Certainly, fiber is not required for healthy digestion. In fact, fiber can be the underlying cause of digestive issues and it does impact bowel function. One of the major functions of the colon is to reabsorb water. Fiber does most of the functions of the colon in a high plant-based food diet, such as absorbing water, creating bulk and consistency of stools due to which the colon muscle gets weak

When you plan to switch yourself from a plant-based diet to a carnivore diet it results in a drastic change in fiber intake. Since the colon muscles are not used and have become weak they need some time to boost up their functions. For the first few days, you may experience loose stools. The colon may take several weeks to get back its capacity. 

The rate of absorption of meat is good in your small intestine, hence none of the nutrients go waste. Fiber is good for intestinal bacteria. It helps in the growth of the bacteria, they ferment and release unwanted gas. Removing the fiber from our diet may not benefit the bacteria. Microbiomes in our body sends signals like hunger and increased appetite, to feed those bacteria. Fiber benefiting microbiomes is not well studied; hence functions of these microbes are not clear.

Few ongoing studies suggest the incorporation of dietary fiber in meat products. This may help to increase the numerous properties like water retention, emulsion stability, texture modification, and neutral flavor. All these are still at a research stage with no evident data. 

There are also studies that suggest that removing dietary fiber from your diet helps to reduce constipation and its symptoms. Hence there is not enough data to prove that fiber is essential for healthy gut and bowel functions. 

3. Red Meat Causes Cancer and Shortens Our Life

Red meat includes the meat of beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse, and goat. There are two types of meat, processed and unprocessed meat. Processed meat is modified by adding salt, fermentation, smoking, and curing process, to enhance the flavor and also to improve the preservation. They include bacon, salami, sausages, and ham. Whereas unprocessed meat includes all fresh, minced, and frozen beef, pork, and lamb. 

The fresh white meat of chicken and fish are not linked with any risk of cancer. Harmful chemicals like haem, nitrates and nitrites and heterocyclic amines, and polycyclic amines are the chemicals generally found in processed meat. These chemicals may increase the risk of cancer by damaging our cells.  

Eating around 300-500g of cooked meat would not cause any risk of cancer. Also, moderate consumption of processed meat can help to avoid the risk of cancer. 

Few tips to avoid the risk of cancer. 

  • Eat-in small portions: It is advised to consume 70g of red meat a day. There is no need to cut down red meat from your diet, eating in small portions would avoid the risk of cancer.
  • Swap your red meat with chicken, fish, or any other seafood. You can also consume this with less red meat. 
  • Have 2 red meat-free days in a week. 

A study suggests that intake of fish regularly reduces the risk of gastrointestinal cancer. Though many data proves processed food causes cancer, they have also mentioned that eating unprocessed red meat is absolutely safe. Plan your diet with other meat sources. 

4. Red Meat Causes Heart Disease 

Red meat is protein-rich and also has a high quantity of bioavailable iron. It is believed that red meat is linked to heart disease, but there is a lack of evidence to prove this theory. 

Red meat releases abundant amounts of chemicals as part of nutrition during its digestion. High saturated fat levels in red meat are believed to be the reason for cardiovascular disease. 

Few studies suggest that Trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), a byproduct that is produced by the gut bacteria during digestion of the red meat may increase the cholesterol deposits in the artery wall. TMAO interacts with blood cells and is responsible for clotting response and may increase the risk of stroke and heart attack when consumed in very high quantities. 

Research studies suggested that there is no link between cardiovascular health risk and blood pressure in unprocessed meat users. Preservatives and the visible fat present in the processed meat are the main reasons to be lined with increased cardiac risk.

Another study suggests that consumption of 70g  servings of total red meat every day does not have any influence on blood lipids and lipoproteins or blood pressure. 

White meat and fish do not have any association with cardiovascular diseases. 

Though there are data that suggest that processed meat increases cardiovascular risk, unprocessed meat is supposed to be safe. Moderate consumption of red meat is not associated with any health risk.

Bottom Line 

The carnivore diet is a complete nutrient diet, with abundant proteins, minerals, and nutrients. In recent times the demand for the carnivore diet is increasing and is considered healthy. White meat and seafood are nutritious and also helps to reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. 

Unprocessed Red meat is absolutely safe, nutritious, and good for health and is not linked to any diseases. Limit your consumption of processed red meat, you can add fish, chicken to your red meat diet to make it more delicious and nutritious. 

Dr. Rashmi Byakodi is a health and wellness writer who aims to spread awareness about health through her words. With her medical background and a passion for writing, she has been creating health content on various platforms. Dr. Rashmi believes that with the right knowledge and a healthy lifestyle, we can combat many health issues, and she strives to spread the same through her blog posts. 

Find her on LinkedIn, Quora, and Pinterest.

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