A choice with dramatic impact on your health
by Lauren Tomeu, NTP
The old saying “you are what you eat” no longer holds much value. You have to go deeper, “you are what you eat is eating”. An animal’s diet not only affects up to 4 generations of its offspring, but also has an enormous impact on the person that eats its meat.
Many people think that organic equates to healthy and safe. They assume the animals are eating healthy, and therefore the meat is healthy too. But I’m afraid this is not the case with many types of meat, including beef.
Cattle are ruminating animals that evolved to eat grass and green forages. They were not meant to eat grains (not even organic grains!) Unnatural grain-based diets affect mineral uptake, and disrupt digestive and biochemical processes.
Specifically, grain-based diets reduce the pH of the digestive system, which inhibits the growth of important bacterium that produces CLA or conjugated linoleic acid, a potent antioxidant that research indicates may aid in fighting against heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Pasture-raised beef has 3 to 5 times more CLA than grain-fed beef, and that is evident in research that shows that Americans consume far less CLA than people in countries where grass-fed is the norm.
Pasture-raised beef also contains 2 to 5 times more of an essential fatty acid, called Omega-3. They call it “essential” because it is one of the few types of fats that your body needs, but cannot produce on its own. Importantly, it’s the ratio of Omega-3 to another fatty acid — Omega-6 — that can either keep you healthy, or make you susceptible to inflammatory diseases, cancer, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and more.
Many generations ago, our hunter-gatherer ancestors consumed a ratio close to 1:1. But with the popularity of vegetable oils — and the use of corn and other grains to fatten livestock — the ratio has shifted toward more Omega-6. Depending on one’s diet, average ratios are now estimated to be from 10:1 to 20:1. So you need increase your Omega-3 intake, and pasture-raised beef is an excellent source.
Pasture-raised cattle also have more carotenoids like beta-carotene, which are important precursors to vitamin A. They also give you more vitamin E, glutathione, superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase. And finally, pasture-raised beef is a much better source of vital trace minerals like zinc, iron and phosphorus.
Another important thing to realize is that grain-fed beef is almost always produced in feedlots. It is not uncommon to find more than 100,000 head of cattle crowded into a single feedlot. In addition to unnatural diets, they are injected with growth hormones and prophylactic antibiotics, because the feedlot owner cannot risk an animal getting sick and infecting thousands of others.
In many cases, these pharmaceuticals do not clear the animal’s body before slaughter, and end up on your dinner table to be ingested by your family. This can be especially dangerous for young children with developing immune systems.
So, for the sake of your own health and that of your family, always choose pasture-raised beef over grain-fed. Better yet, make sure it is organic pasture-raised!