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Red Meat and Your Health

Updated on September 2, 2013

New Research

Consumers are becoming more and more aware that high consumption of red meat can be detrimental to their health. A plethora of health risks can be found in health journals, in news reports and in discussions with their healthcare providers (hopefully). But now even more research has discovered why excessive red meat consumption can be detrimental. Below is new evidence about links to red meat consumption and Alzheimer’s disease, followed by the other risks consumers should all be aware of.

Red Meat

Red Meat and Alzheimer’s

Red meat is full of iron, and a diet high in red meat can lead to iron build-up in the brain. According to a study published in the August issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, researchers at UCLA have found that excess iron in the brain may lead to the development of the disease. Scientists examined the hippocampus and thalamus regions of the brains of 31 patients with Alzheimer’s and 68 healthy control subjects. MRI results revealed that in the hippocampus region, the interaction of iron with amyloid proteins resulted in their toxicity. Scientists have long believed that the amyloid proteins were the trigger for the disease, but they knew that the presence of the proteins alone did not provide a complete understanding of the disease. Iron is the missing link. Scientists have concluded that the disease is caused by a deadly combination of the amyloid proteins and high levels of iron, which combined, create a toxic environment in the brain.

Red Meat Consumption

Will you cut down on the amount of red meat you consume based off this new research?

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Red Meat and Cardiovascular Disease

For years, connections have been made between consumption of red meat and cardiovascular disease. It was often assumed that the disease was caused by the high levels of saturated fats and cholesterol found in red meat. But a recent study has found that gut microbes break down a compound found in the meat known as carnitine, which in turn produces trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO). Fat build-up in arteries can lead to atherosclerosis, which in-turn can lead to a heart attack. TMAO has been associated with this fat build-up and atherosclerosis.

Huge Portions

Decrease Your Risk

  • Eat less red meat. When you do eat red meat, stick to moderate portions.
  • Increase the amount of fish and other seafood you eat.
  • Make plant foods the center of your plate at most meals. This includes vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes and whole grains.
  • Vote with your fork! By choosing other alternatives, you are letting the food industry know that you are fed up with the heavy meat consumption.

Red Meat and Colon Cancer

Numerous studies have shown that high consumption of red meat can increase the risk of colorectal, or colon cancer. Adversely, consumption of poultry and fish can reduce the risk of colon cancer. In a pair of massive US and European studies done in 2005, researchers found that participants free of the disease who consumed five ounces or more of red meat daily were about a third more likely to develop colon cancer than those who consumed less than an ounce of red meat per day on the average. Consumption of chicken by the participants did not seem to affect their risk one way or the other, but high consumption of fish decreased their risk by about a third.

Types of Red Meat

Yes, pork is considered a red meat, despite the pork industry labeling it as "the other white meat".

Red Meat and Type 2 Diabetes

Recent research has discovered that just three extra servings of red meat each week can increase the risk of Type 2 Diabetes by 50 percent. There has always been a link between the consumption of red meat and the disease.

Other Health Risks

Despite the fact that there have been only three reported cases of Mad Cow Disease in the United States, the disease is still a risk for humans. Scientists believe that there will eventually be more cases reported. Also, most commercially raised livestock are pumped full of hormones and antibiotics. Whereas the FDA has approved the use of these chemicals to produce meat and dairy for consumers, the tests used to discern their safety have never been paired with other chemicals in the environment, including antibiotics and other chemicals consumed by humans. Chemicals in the air, water and other foods eaten could react negatively with the antibiotics and hormones given to livestock, scientists believe

Live Better

With all of the above data compiled by researchers and scientists over decades of research, consumers need to be aware and cautious of their red meat consumption. At the behest of the cattle and pork industries, American consumers have been nearly force-fed their product for decades, at low prices and high availability. With an increase in plant food and seafood consumption, consumers can increase their chances of living longer, healthier and better quality lives.


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    • cbunch11 profile image

      Chad Bunch 4 years ago from Florissant, MO

      Thanks for the comment. I have also heard that many commercial toothpastes contain aluminum also. We purchase Tom's or Trader Joe's brand only.

      I also have cut back on red meat the past several years. Down to about one serving per week. I try to eat vegetarian/vegan several times per week now. Overall better health and longevity.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 4 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Very informative hub about the dangers of excess consumption of red meat. I have previously been a big red meat eater, but have recently reduced my consumption by about half.

      I read recently that high levels of aluminium (found in most deodorants) have been found in the brains of people with Alzheimers disease. A worrying side to this is that fluoride helps the body to absorb aluminum more easily, and the body automatically stores it in the brain. As most of our drinking water is fluoridated, this is also concerning.