In the first part of this series of articles we looked at the history of how red meat got a bad reputation and how research has never really proved that saturated fat and dietary cholesterol cause heart disease, diabetes, or obesity. The latest study found that eating red meat from an early age will help supply people with recommended levels of vitamin and mineral intake. Red meat nutrients play a key role in immune and cognitive health. Meat is a great source of protein, iron, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, and B vitamins (especially B1, B3, B6, and B12). In the light of this, why do we still follow the modern nutritional guidelines and avoid these nutrients?
Let’s look at the nutritional benefits of eating red meat
Meat is a rich source of vitamin B12
Vitamin B-12, or Cobalamin, is the most complex vitamin and can only be found naturally in animal products. Vitamin B-12 is needed for red blood cell formation. It helps build DNA and makes sure cells work properly. It is vital for the nervous and circulatory systems. Long term deficiency of vitamin B-12 can lead to brain and central nervous system damage. A lack of B12 damages the myelin sheath that surrounds and protect nerves. B12 deficiency can also lead to dementia, loss of memory, anemia, fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite and constipation. On average, a 150g serving of beef provides 85% of the Recommended Dietary Intake for vitamin B12.
Red Meat is an excellent source of Zinc
Zinc in the body contributes to the development of bone tissue, stimulates the growth and division of cells, tissue regeneration, reproductive function and brain development. Unfortunately, most people are difficient in Zinc. Zinc is an active agent responsible for triggering 100 internal enzymes that are required to metabolize food and nutrients.
Our immune system depends on the presence of zinc. Zinc is actively involved in the processes of tissue regeneration, and the normal processes of DNA synthesis depends on it. Zinc found in meat plays an important role in the secretion of sexual hormones, the successful balance of amino acids and valuable vitamins.
The deficiency of zinc can lead to the growth retardation and development in children. With a significant shortage of zinc comes a clear distortion of taste sensors. Deficiency in zinc also effects all metabolic processes. The immune system is weakened thus reducing resistance to infection. Zinc deficiency disturbs the normal functioning of the thymus, responsible for the formation of protective cells – lymphocytes. Low zinc content leads to dysfunction of the genital organs, and this, in turn, leads to a slowdown of puberty. The shortage of zinc in the body can lead to hair loss, loss of appetite and dermatitis.
Red Meat is an excellent source of Magnesium
Every organ in our body needs magnesium, and unlike trace minerals, magnesium is needed by the body in large amounts. Magnesium is a macro-mineral, which means that our bodies have to be supplied with hundreds of milligrams of magnesium every day through food. It is necessary for the proper functioning of the brain, nervous and cardiovascular systems, bone strength, muscles, kidneys, hormone-secreting glands and the liver. It performs about 300 biochemical functions. Magnesium is a cofactor of many enzymes and enzymatic reactions, including energy metabolism, the synthesis of nucleic acids and protein. Magnesium plays a vitally important role in the reactions that generate and use ATP, the fundamental unit of energy within the body’s cells. Magnesium has a stabilizing effect on membranes, it is necessary for maintaining calcium, potassium and sodium homeostasis. Magnesium also works as a cofactor in the repair of DNA damage.
Magnesium deficiency can lead to chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, kidney disease, constipation, heart disease, sleep disorders, irritability, fatigue, hypertension, convulsions in children and an increased risk of cancer.
Vitamin D is crucial for helping the body to absorb calcium from the foods. It’s also important for the growth and maintenance of bones and teeth. Thus, it does not matter how much calcium we take, because without Vitamin D, calcium is excreted in our urine. The presence of vitamin D is also necessary for blood clotting, tissues, the work of the heart, the regulation of the activity of the nervous system. Vitamin D is also necessary in the modulation of cell growth, neuromuscular and immune function and reduction of inflammation.
Iron is a vital mineral because it is involved in the transportation of oxygen to your cells. It is essential for hemoglobin formation and muscle function. In addition, iron is included in the antioxidant enzymes (catalase and peroxidase), which protect cells from the ravages of oxidation. Your thyroid gland and the central nervous system can not properly work without iron.
Meat is an excellent source of Iron, of which approximately 40% is heme iron. It enters your cells faster and is better absorbed by the body compared to plant based sources of iron (which contain a different form of Iron). Iron deficiency causes low immunity levels and anemia. Anemia leads to the reduction in hemoglobin, red blood cells and lymphocytes, which results in weakened immunity and a higher risk of infectious diseases. In children, iron deficiency can delay growth and mental development. Adults feel constant fatigue. Problems begin with the skin and mucous membrane, gastrointestinal tract and respiratory ways, which, may be one of the causes of dermatitis, eczema, rhinitis, gastritis, etc.
Beef also contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Studies have showen that linoleic acid has inhibited cancer growth in laboratory animals. Compared to chicken, beef has twice the thiamine and riboflavin, three times the iron, five times the zinc, and seven times the B12. The nutritional benefits of eating red meat are great! And these are just some of the reasons why you should eat red meat.