‘Pie hole’, colloquial for one’s mouth, is believed to have evolved in the USA in the 1980s from the British expression ‘cake hole’ (coined in the mid 20th century). Pie hole refers to a mouth, as in: Shut your pie hole or, in this case: Put less in your pie hole.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

What Ails and Cures

Meat: What used to be a staple in most homes and enjoyed around the dinner table is now a controversial meat hole. There are the usual ethical and religious views as well as various types of vegetarian and vegan diets. Then there are media alarmist claims that eating meat is bad for your health. And the whiney list of reasons to break up with meat goes on and on, like a Taylor Swift song. Here we'll discuss all things meat-alicious. Jump on this juicy bandwagon as we flesh out the evidence behind this tasty topic.

Pie Hole devotees will recall that meat is an excellent and reliable source of nutrition. Plant killers like to argue that non-animal sources of iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and vitamin A (such as grains and dark green leafy vegetables) are just as good as meat. However, plant sources of these are not as bioavailable as animal sources. Bioavailability is the extent to which our body can absorb and use vitamins and minerals from food (for further explanation of the bioavailability concept, click here).

Vegetarian or omnivore? Studies show vegetarians have a lower risk of heart attacks and other lifestyle diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. However, these studies show vegetarians make more conscious lifestyle choices beyond meat. For example, vegetarians are generally leaner, more active and smoke less compared to their omnivorous counterparts. These behavioural differences decrease risk of lifestyle diseases.

A recent study investigated meat consumption and risk of early death in a whopping 450,000 people. Results showed:
  • Males and females consuming the most red meat also consumed lower amounts of fruits and vegetables compared to those who ate less red meat
  • Males and females consuming the most red meat were also more likely to smoke and have lower education levels
  • Males (not females) who ate the most red meat, drank more alcohol than their low red meat eating peers

BUT... there's always a but. Neither red meat or poultry consumption was associated with increased risk of death. Processed meats on the other hand, were associated with higher risk of early death by cancer and heart disease. 

Processed meat includes sausages, salami and bacon. Not only are these meats higher in fat and cholesterol than fresh meat, they are treated by salting, curing or smoking. This often improves shelf life, colour and taste. Unfortunately, these processes also increase carcinogenic compounds in the meat... Thus what cures the meat, ails the eater.

One last meaty morsel in this tender tale is that the lowest risk of early death was seen in those who ate low to moderate amounts of red meat and poultry. Meat abstainers didn't exhibit the lowest risk of early death, as plant peddlers perpetuate.

Take home points and tips:
  • Small to moderate amounts of red meat and poultry in the diet is beneficial to health
  • Meat supplies protein and other nutrients that are highly bioavailable (zinc, vitamin B12, iron and essential fatty acids)
  • It's ok to have a special steak dinner every now and then, but for day to day practice, spread the meat around by buying meat you can cut up (e.g: chuck steak, beef strips, lamb steaks) and cook  in a curry or stew that includes your favourite veggies

1 comment:

  1. Appreciate you sticking up for omnivores! I believe "la viande rose" is an important element in "la vie en rose".